In the ongoing turmoil in Ecuador, 32 nurseries near the capital city of Quito were attacked by protesters last Monday. Employees were forced to stop their work and join the strikes. Nurseries were damaged and pillaged. Expoflores, organisation for flower exporters, has called on the authorities for protection. According to the organisation’s president, Alejandro Martinez, the damage caused by the unrest has already reached 20 million dollars.
The riots, plundering and road blockades began last Thursday, after the government had announced new measures in order to meet the requirements for their multi-billion IMF loan. The most controversial measure regards the end of the fuel subsidies
Expoflores was initially most concerned about the flower transports to Quito airport. They requested military protection, which was promised, but turned out not to be sufficient.
The situation escalated yesterday, in the flower industry as well as other places. Workers were threatened by armed protesters, and flowers, water pumps and computers were damaged. Wood and plastic materials were taken from the nurseries and burnt on the public roads. Companies were left with no other choice but to close down. Workers were forced to get onto lorries and participate in the protests.
The Ecuadorian production sector estimates the total damages so far at 70 million dollars. Martinez says that the damage for the important flower sector (Ecuador is the third largest exporter in the world) has already reached 20 million dollars.
Entrepreneur Bernardo Espinosa, who has a nursery in Lasso, was quoted in Extra, saying that his losses had already amounted to 30,000 dollars due to forced closure. His company normally processes 30,000 stems per day for exports.
Getting the right information isn’t easy at the moment in the riot-stricken Andean country. Declaring a state of emergency allows president Lenin Moreno to impose restrictions on information sharing. Messages on social media are all very subjective.
One of the stories doing the rounds is that Indian tribes have infiltrated the movement of protesters. However, Martinez didn’t want to confirm this on behalf of Expoflores during his interview with radio channel FM Mundo.
The allegation regarding infiltration has everything to do with the idea that supporters of ex-president Rafael Correa are behind the protests. Correa is an ally of president Maduro (Venezuela) and is in a row with the current Ecuadorian president, his former socialist friend Moreno.
Here you can read the previous article on the unrest in Ecuador.