QUITO (Reuters) – Ecuador’s oil production has fallen by more than half due to road blockades and vandalism connected to nearly two weeks of anti-government protests, the energy ministry said on Sunday.
The sometimes-violent demonstrations by largely indigenous marchers demanding lower fuel and food prices, among other things, began on June 13 and have led to at least six civilian deaths.
President Guillermo Lasso, whose already-adversarial relationship with the national assembly has worsened during the marches, has offered concessions including easing security measures, subsidized fertilizers and debt forgiveness, and his government met on Saturday with indigenous groups.
“Oil production is at a critical level. Today the figures show a reduction of more than 50%,” the energy ministry said in a statement. “In 14 days of demonstrations, the Ecuadorean state has stopped receiving around $120 million.”
Vandalism, the takeover of oil wells and road closures have prevented transport of necessary supplies, the ministry said.
Before the protests, oil production was about 520,000 barrels per day.
The public oil sector, private producers of flowers and dairy products, tourism businesses and others have lost about $500 million, the ministry of production said in a statement.
Protesters reiterated on Sunday that marches would continue until Lasso has answered all of their demands.
“The central issues have not been won yet,” said CONAIE indigenous organization leader Leonidas Iza, adding that protesters want guarantees on fuel prices and a limit to the expansion of oil and mining. “We are going to return with results.”
Lasso on Twitter called for peace and said a humanitarian convoy on the way to Cuenca was attacked with explosives and the city’s hospitals are suffering an oxygen shortage.
CONAIE has tallied five protester deaths, while the government says four civilians have died during protests and two others died in ambulances delayed by blockades.
The assembly was continuing debate on Sunday on an effort to remove Lasso from office, though it appears opposition lawmakers do not have the required support for the measure.
(Reporting by Alexandra Valencia; Writing by Julia Symmes Cobb; Editing by Nick Zieminski)