Ecuador factories, schools shut down during seventh day of fuel subsidy protests

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Oct. 9 (UPI) — Demonstrators shut down portions of Ecuador on Wednesday as protests against President Lenin Moreno’s decision to eliminate fuel subsidies reached their seventh day.

Shops, factories and schools in the capital city of Quito were closed on Wednesday as thousands of demonstrators including indigenous people in traditional bowler hats gathered for the protests.

The Red Cross also announced it would suspend operations and assistance in the city because it could no ensure the security of its staffers.

More than 700 people have been arrested throughout the country in the protest and police used tear gas to break up crowds on Wednesday as some demonstrators threw Molotov cocktails.

Vice President Otto Sonneholzer said people engaging in vandalism during the protests would face terrorism charges.

Moreno returned to Quito on Wednesday after moving the government to the city of Guayaquil due to the protests.

Authorities blocked a major bridge in Guayaquil and imposed a curfew banning people from areas near government buildings and other strategic locations between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m.

Moreno has said he will not step down or reverse his decision to eliminate the fuel subsidy, stating the government will save an estimated $1.4 billion from their removal.

He did suggest, however, that the government could grant special credits to indigenous groups to handle increased gas prices.