On the evening of October 13th, 2019, the 11th day of nationwide indigenous-led mobilizations that paralyzed the country, Ecuador’s indigenous movement forced their government to pay heed to their demands over those of the International Monetary Fund, a monumental victory for indigenous organizing and a powerful blow to a 4.4 billion IMF-backed loan deal that seeks to restructure the Ecuadorian economy towards privatization, resource-extraction, and other severe neo-liberal economic reforms.

This visual recap gives a brief glimpse into the events and emotions on the ground in Ecuador since the mobilizations began.

Indigenous people from the Sierra and Amazon in Ecuador gather in the “Casa de Cultura” (House of Culture) in Quito for an assembly as part of the indigenous mobilization during the nationwide protests against the government’s neoliberal policies.
Thousands of Indigenous peoples, students, and groups of civil society mobilize in the streets of Ecuador’s capital city to protest against the central government’s newly announced austerity measures.

Resistance in the Amazon

Across the Amazon, indigenous peoples blocked roads, occupied government buildings, and disrupted oil operations in an organized demonstration of power, unity and discontent to the entire country.

Police and Military Repression


Nationwide protests were met with repression and violence. The government responded by declaring a state of emergency across the country, within which they committed serious violations of human rights.
The United Nations and the Inter-American Commission on Human RIghts expressed deep concern for the alarming situations of violence and repression, and called for the government to respect human rights.

This video documents instances of police brutality and represssion against demonstrators during nationwide protests in Ecuador, October 2019.

Kichwa leader Pusanga Gualinga from the Amazon stands in the midst of tear gas during protests in Quito, Ecuador. Photo Courtesy AP/Dolores Ochoa
Tear gas, a chemical weapon, was the Ecuadorian police and military’s primary method to disperse crowds during protests.

This video shows inside moments of fear and chaos as thousands of people peacefully protesting outside the National Assembly ran from a ruthless surprise attack of tear gas and rubber bullets by police and military.

Shields were crafted out of improvised materials by indigenous youth during marches in the streets of Quito as protection from police brutality. Photo Courtesy of Wio Gualinga / WAKTACHIK Sarayaku Comunicación
Indigenous peoples and civil society carry the coffin of the indigenous leader Inocencio Tucumbí, in Quito, Ecuador to the headquarters of the House of Culture on October 10, 2019. Tucumbí died during protests against the government. Photo Courtesy AP/Dolores Ochoa
Indigenous people, religious groups and civil society gather in prayer during the funeral for Tucumbí in Quito. Preliminary reports indicate the loss of at least seven people’s lives, 1340 severely wounded, and more than 1152 people detained.

Indigenous Women’s March

Thousands of women, indigenous and non-indigenous, march together to denounce state violence and to demand the cancelation of agreements with the International Monetary Fund and the reversal of economic measures by the government which have sparked the largest social unrest in the country in over a decade. “No more deaths, no more violence by the repressive state!” was the uniting cry from the women’s peaceful march in Quito on October 12th 2019.
Indigenous leader from Ecuador’s national indigenous organization CONAIE delivers a moving speech at the end of the women’s march, while demonstrators symbolically paint a statue of Queen Isabella I of Castile in red to represent blood spilled during the protest. “They are killing us. We want peace, we want respect. The number of deaths and irregular detentions keep on increasing. But we will continue to fight, we are defending life itself!”
Indigenous women symbolically paint the statue of Queen Isabella I of Castile in Ecuador’s capital city of Quito. “This represents the blood of our brothers and sisters spilled by the state. We have been resisting oppression for over 527 years and today, the fight continues more than ever” declared the women, who led a march through the capital on October 12th 2019 during the second week of protests.

Women from all walks of life march through the streets of Quito’s capital city during the second week of nationwide protests in Ecuador, making prayers for peace and delivering speeches of resistance against state violence and oppression along the way. Amazonian women also released a collective statement calling for peace.

At around 8:30pm on Saturday 12th 2019 in Quito, the city filled with the sounds of clanking pots and pans as people joined together through windowsills and avenues in the South American protest tradition called “cacerolazo”, derived from the word casserole. The spontaneous eruption of sound brought a moment of hope throughout the city, and across the provinces, in what has been one of the most tumultuous weeks in the last decade in Ecuador.

The sounds of the “cacerolazo” have preceded protests across the region for over 50 years, and were last heard in Ecuador before citizens forced then-President Lucio Gutierrez out of office and out of the country. Indigenous peoples walled in last night by police and military at designated peace zones, thanked Quito this morning for its support and promised to stand firm with their demands in today’s scheduled dialogue with President Lenin Moreno.

A Dialogue Begins

The next day, indigenous leaders bring their demands to President Lenín Moreno during a dialogue on October 13th, 2019 in Quito, Ecuador. The dialogue, mediated by the United Nations amongst others, was broadcast live on national TV.
“Our brothers have died. Our own President sent armed men to attack us when we came to march in peace. We have left our children in the Amazon, we don’t know if they are eating well, or not. I have spent 12 days in the streets, Mr. President. But I haven’t been alone, because in this fight we have all united,” said Mirian Cisneros, President of the Kichwa of Sarayaku.

Indigenous Celebrate Agreement

Indigenous people and civil society rejoice in the streets of Quito after President Lenín Moreno accepts the indigenous movement’s demand to nullify the IMF-backed austerity measure that took away gasoline subsidies. Indigenous leaders called for the end of protests in Quito and around the country as further dialogue will continue in order to address the rest of indigenous demands. Photos Sofia Dora Bustamante

Cleaning Up and Looking Ahead

Indigenous people, government workers, and citizens of Quito joined together in a “minga”, a traditional gathering for communal work, to clean up the city of Quito, October 14th 2019.

Indigenous leader from the Sierra, Luisa Lozano, cleaning up after the protest as part of a collective clean-up operation in Quito.


A lot remains to be written, as indigenous peoples prepare for the long road ahead to hold the government accountable for widespread human rights violations during the protests and the complete nullification of the economic measures and extractive policies imposed by the IMF in Ecuador.

For centuries indigenous peoples have struggled against government attempts to marginalize, dispossess, and ultimately relegate them to the sidelines in decisions that affecting their lives, their cultures, and their forests. What is clear from the past two weeks is that indigenous peoples have the power to organize and ensure that decisions that affect their future aren’t made unilaterally by money-strapped governments and resource-hungry multinational companies.

URGENT: Humanitarian Aid and Legal support needed for indigenous peoples in the wake of nationwide protests in Ecuador

Indigenous and human rights organizations on the ground in Ecuador need urgent humanitarian aid for the wounded and legal aid to defend indigenous people who were arbitrarily detained or charged with a crime during the mobilization. Amazon Frontlines, Land Is Life, and Amazon Watch will channel the funds from this campaign to the Ecumenical Commission on Human Rights (CEDHU), an Ecuadorian non-profit with 40 years of experience working towards social justice and human rights. 100% of funds will be used exclusively for humanitarian and legal support for indigenous peoples.

Amazon Frontlines

Amazon FrontlinesDefending indigenous rights to land, life and cultural survival in the Amazon rainforest.

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