This is the continuing coverage of the unfolding SHTF situation in Ecuador being reported by an American Partisan reader and expat living in the nation. It is going from bad to much worse, with reports of violence among the large scale demonstrations. It won’t be long now.
Previously I had been helping him remotely to build up the local Red Cross chapter off-grid communications, which was left in shambles from neglect and no serious attitude towards them amid more convenient methods. And now here they are, with periodic outages just in the beginning phases of what looks like a long term bad situation playing out.
In Quito this morning- Lots of places where troops and police behind barricades, and protesters on the outside, face off. Conaie has declared a day of mourning
The numbers of detainees, injured and dead vary. Conae says this memorial day is for two of their fallen comrades, Jose Rodrigo Chaluisa and Inocencio Tucumbi.
Headlines from major news outlets and what is seen on Twitter and elsewhere suggests any possibility of negotiation farther and farther away. The majority of the indigenous and mixed at the face of the protests, and farther away from the cameras involved in the logistics are workers. Farmers, waitresses, laborers, deliverymen, herdsmen…….they are away from home, some for their second week. Many have their children with them, farther away from the edge of the protests, back in the crowd, or in the kitchens or gathering food from the supporters in cities where most of the pictures come from , Quito, Guayaquil, Ibarra. For the protesters a day of anger, of fear of hunger. Not working, they and their families have less. It is a nation where the minimum salary is around $400 a month. For the police, for the soldiers also another of discomfort and worry. risk for all …..yesterday I was given a photo of a grandmother and her grandson, sitting on a curb together in Quito. She in her 70’s in traditional Kitchua tribal dress……He a young soldier in fatigues, a helmet and a plastic shield…….
As I write this the first rounds of the day are fired…..police behind barricades in a government complex near the centro fiscaleria (and where you start to go up the hill to Centro Historico) have opened up with tear gas against a crowd of perhaps 2000, driving them away from the complex. They move farther back into the streets of the surrounding city. A few protesters with masks and gloved hands pick up the gas rounds and throw them back, causing a flurry behind the barricades as police erect the shields they use in crowd control for protection, clear plastic. The protesters have their own out now, sawed metal drums, pieces of plywood, sheet metal. Another crowd of protesters perhaps 500 yards away, this one much larger than those at the barricades, watches the action…..
After the tear gas volley those driven back from the face of the confrontation flow back in like water to gather farther away, slowly inch closer as the process repeats…..
At the forward edge of the protest police occupy the high ground on an elevated highway, the protesters below. The elevated part is an east-west artery. On the south side of the overpass perhaps 30 police are facing an area below , with the mirrored front of a health, x ray and physical therapy clinic a half block away on an intersecting street reflecting the massed protesters below. The crack-whoosh sound of tear gas rounds outgoing. Below protesters respond with rocks and the police scramble to put their shields in place– they all are helmeted and with body armor. An incoming rock hits one in the throat, there is a scramble and he is led away from the edge of the overpass where the action is, as he draws closer one can see one of his fingers is splinted from an earlier injury…..
Across the overpass on the North side another group of police. A young couple appears, dressed in blue jeans and jackets attempting to cross the elevated section of the highway. There are incoming rocks from the protesters below, the police have their shields up. The young man takes off his jacket, puts it over the girl’s head to try to protect her. When the police spot this 3 of their number take their shields, form an arch over the young couple help them across.
From the other side……
behind the forward edge of the protests, same area of the city, below the historic district…..perhaps 2000 protesters lined up facing the police, this is a fixed line without much movement either forward or back. Behind the line protesters wander most of them in their late teens and 20s, supporters from the city, blue jeans and hoodies all with backpacks….. others from outside in the colorful traditional Kitchua dress, some are mothers with their children on their backs. Most are carrying the 3.5 liter clear plastic bottles popular with water sellers….and the iconic hardwood staffs, these 2 meters long and 2-3 inches in diameter, their weapons…..by the curb, 4 are gathered, two bent down working on something….. one has a beer bottle and is sloshing something in the bottle, when I see this I think it is water for a cut or scrape…. The other pulls a rag out of his pocket, saturates it with whats in the bottle then stuffs the rag in the mouth…..Molitoff cocktail….. in the crowd along the edge of the protests clouds appear, incoming gas rounds, the mothers with their children scamper away…… then return seconds later as apparently the tear gas is returned to the sender……in the background a Toyota 4X 4 with a siren going a nd a large flag pulls into a hospital entrance a half block back from the protests, Cruz Roja at work again and this time as before close enough to be in harm’s way……
Today the level of violence is definitely up compared with yesterday. Seems neither side knows what may be next. In Quito lots of the streets around Centro Historico, Casa de la Cuntura and the areas around El Ejido and the government buildings are blocked. This may be the worst day yet.
The military is mobilizing transport, attempting to get food and medicine to various parts of the city as well as elsewhere in the country, the result of transportation being paralyzed for the last week.
Reportedly so far 47 military and 8 police imprisoned by the protesters nationwide. The main highway from Quito (on the east side of the Amazon littoral, south to the Orient is closed.
Before dawn this morning a convoy of around 30 large trucks accompanied by police and military were escorted into Guayaquil carrying medicine, meat, vegetables and fruit. The transportation problem caused by protesters closing highways begins to pinch in larger towns and cities. The longer the protests continue, the worse this problem becomes. On the consumer side of the equation most Ecuadorians have not worked this past week. Disposable cash goes to zero and people are hungry.
The Peruvian government today sent planes to Guayaquil to rescue Peruvians, either tourists trapped by the protests or workers who wish to return home. One group of 200 Peruvian tourists have been trapped in country since shortly after the protests started last week.
Reports from the National Transit authority indicate that at any time roughly 60% of intercity roads are closed to transit. Roads north of Quito to Ibarra, Cotacachi, Otavalo and points north(including the border crossing with Colombia ) have been effectively closed since the protests started. Roads south of Quito and to Guayaquil and the Orient ( the Amazon Basin part of Ecuador, East of the mountains and south to the southeastern part of Ecuador) are intermittently passable. Military or transit authority remove roadblocks and the roads are open until they are closed again by protesters.
Early afternoon –all the banks and most of the stores (I would estimate 90%)are closed. No signs of the indigenous vigilantes that were here yesterday. A few people on the street all a little more tightly wound than yesterday. From a friend with a cell phone repair shop/ internet cafe…. his price for a 6 foot USB/ telephone cable is $9. Before this nationwide mobilization started it was $3 for the same cable. Scarcity. Store with the $14 chicken yesterday has no chicken today. Another store has a distributor with a local warehouse and got a delivery this morning a few bags of noodles, Coca-Cola, some cigarettes, potato chips, dried noodles….. and plenty of whiskey. Another expat I talked to on the way verified what my people in the US have told me that no one outside of Ecuador much knows whats going on particularly in the US. Everything is becoming more scarce. All banks closed today but most of the ATM’s are in service…..the one I tried had money.
As earlier reported the Pan American highway between Quito and all points north remains closed. No resupply to our nearest, larger neighbor, Ibarra and nothing moving between Ibarra and Cotacachi. I was told that Ecuadorian friends with a pregnant daughter were successful yesterday with her transport between the clinic here and the public hospital in Ibarra, the protesters allowed them through.
As an effort to combat the growing shortages and increasing unease in the populace, the Cotachi municipality issued the following decree this morning
The citizen was informed that in order to guarantee the food security of the Cotacachena population, a meeting was held in which representatives of the municipality of Cotacachi participated, assembled from the cantonal unit, UNORCAC, representatives of the councils of the communities, ffederacion of neighborhoods, andcivil and general society and the following agreements were reached
1- allow commercial stores, including Mercado Jatun Cem, grocery stores, pharmacies, in the hour from 6 to 10 in the morning on Saturday October 12
2) That the control bodies supervise the retail prices of the essential products and that the price list be published to avoid speculation
The Andean zone and the intag zone add their efforts to provide products to the community in a direct way, so their mobilization will be facilitated on the roads The consensus through dialogue is the only tool for community welfare
Jatun Cem is the public market here. Stores will open tomorrow for 4 hours. Without resupply from anywhere except for the Intag river valley farms east of here and presumably from other farms in the area, what is available remains to be seen.
The main square, where the transport of protesters to the roadblocks and to Quito happened a couple of days ago, today was for the most part empty. In talking with a few of the shopkeepers about the death cross (outlined in one of my earlier posts) and the national legislature meeting tomorrow in Quito to try to determine a way forward….. most of them said the resolution they thought most likely was open revolution. They had no faith that the legislature would be able to remove the Moreno government. From the steps of the Catholic church looking toward Imbaburra volcano, there were a couple of kids kicking a soccer ball back and forth. As I left, a cold rain began to fall…..
City of Latacunga has no gasoline, cooking gas and food is scarce.
NC Scout is the nome de guerre of a former Infantry Scout and Sergeant in one of the Army’s best Reconnaissance Units. He has combat tours in both Iraq and Afghanistan. He teaches a series of courses focusing on small unit skills rarely if ever taught anywhere else in the prepping and survival field, including his RTO Course which focuses on small unit communications. In his free time he is an avid hunter, bushcrafter, writer, long range shooter, prepper, amateur radio operator and Libertarian activist.
He can be contacted at [email protected] or via his blog at brushbeater.wordpress.com .