Ecuador claims end to oil unrest

Ecuador's government has deployed troops to its Amazon region and claimed an end to six days of civil unrest that has cut oil exports, but protesters have declared only a truce in their fight for a larger slice of oil revenues.

    Protests leaders have halted their attacks and declared truce

    "We granted a suspension to talk with administration officials," Orellana provincial governor and protest leader Guadalupe Llori told AFP in a telephone interview.

    However, interior minister Mauricio Gandara said late on Saturday residents of the region "had decided to end the strike".

    "Reason has prevailed and people will be returning to work because the damage from the strike has been enormous, reaching about $500 million," the minister said.

    Leaders of protests halted their attacks and flew to the capital on Sunday to negotiate with the government as the country's petroleum output showed signs of recovery.

    Delegation in Quito

    A delegation of about 60 protesters arrived in Quito from the Amazon region where they had started blowing up pipelines and vandalising pumping machinery nearly a week ago, demanding jobs and infrastructure investment.

    Defence Minister Jarrin wants
    emergency to remain in force

    The government of President Alfredo Palacio declared states of emergency in Sucumbios and Orellana provinces in Ecuador's Amazon basin on Wednesday when protesters demanded a greater share of oil revenues.

    Defence Minister Oswaldo Jarrin, whose predecessor resigned on Friday, said the states of emergency would remain in force.

    The protests forced Ecuador to suspend oil exports, a key source of foreign exchange, costing the country some $30 million a day.

    Key supplier

    Oil prices shot higher on Friday after the suspension added to fears over tight global supply. New York's main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in September, rallied $2.08 to $65.35 per barrel in closing trade.

    Ecuador is South America's fifth-largest oil producer and more than half of its exports go to the United States. It also supplies Asian nations.

    In addition to the oil facilities, protesters occupied airports in Lago Agrio and El Coca, the capitals of Sucumbios and Orellana provinces, respectively, and have blocked major roads in the region.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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