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Ecuador’s Moreno Wins Major Victory at Home Over Fuel Subsidies

Stephan Kueffner

(Bloomberg) -- As troops and police dismantled barricades, arrested ringleaders and cleared roads, Ecuador’s formerly powerful transit organizations blinked.

“We have forced the government to hear the voice of dissent,” Abel Gomez, head of FENACOTIP, a nationwide federation of bus transportation groups, said in announcing the end of the two-day strike. The job action and nationwide unrest had been set off by President Lenin Moreno’s decision Tuesday to end fuel subsidies that kept costs to consumers down. Moreno on Thursday had declared a state of emergency.

Close to 400 people were arrested as protesters throughout the country mounted barricades of vehicles and burning tires. Some attacked ambulances during the night, while others took advantage of the unrest to loot stores in Guayaquil and Quito.

Moreno’s decision ended diesel and gasoline subsidies introduced by a military dictatorship in 1974 that subsequent governments left in place and which cost the country close to $60 billion. The decision will help his government meet terms of a $4.2 billion financial agreement with the International Monetary Fund.

To contact the reporter on this story: Stephan Kueffner in Quito at skueffner1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Daniel Cancel at dcancel@bloomberg.net, Robert Jameson

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