Ecuadorian police announced on Tuesday the arrest of Leonidas Isa, a top indigenous leader who has spearheaded a national protest against rising fuel prices.

Police tweeted that Isa was arrested on suspicion of an unspecified “crime” in Pastokare, about 20 kilometers (12 miles) south of Kito.

Pastokare was the flash point of a protest called by the Ecuadorian Indigenous Peoples Union (Konaier) against rising fuel prices and living costs, which saw protesters blockade roads across the country on Monday.

Police added that Isa, who leads Conayer, was detained awaiting a hearing.

Conayer confirmed Isa’s arrest, accused it of being “arbitrary and illegal,” and called for a “radicalization” of the demonstration accordingly.

In 2019, Conayer-led protests killed 11 people, forcing then-President LenĂ­n Moreno to abandon plans to abolish fuel subsidies. The group is also known to have helped defeat three presidents between 1997 and 2005.

Ecuador, an oil-producing country, has been hit by stocks exacerbated by rising inflation, unemployment, poverty and a pandemic of the coronavirus.

President Guillermo Lasso warned late Sunday that the government would not allow roads and Ecuadorian oil facilities to be hijacked by protesters.

However, Isa claimed that the demonstration would last as long as needed.

According to officials, at least 10 of Ecuador’s 24 states had roads blocked by tire burning and barricades of sand, rocks and tree branches, and partial access to the capital, Kito, during a national demonstration on Monday, officials said. Was blocked by.

Fuel prices have risen sharply since 2020, almost doubling from $ 1 to $ 1.90 per gallon for diesel and from $ 1.75 to $ 2.55 for gasoline.

Lasso froze prices at this level in October last year after a series of protests led by Connie, who had dozens of people arrested and several, including police, injured in a clash.

However, in countries that export crude oil but import much of the fuel they consume, freezing has failed to relieve simmering anger.

Conaie wants to reduce fuel prices to $ 1.50 per gallon for diesel and $ 2.10 for gasoline.

Protesters are also calling on the government to work on price controls for farmers and agricultural products that undermine mining rights recognized in indigenous territories.

Indigenous people make up more than 1 million of Ecuador’s 17.7 million inhabitants.

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