October 14, 2019 / 12:28 AM / a month ago

Mercosur bloc and other South American countries condemn unrest in Ecuador

Demonstrators run past a fire during a protest against Ecuador's President Lenin Moreno's austerity measures, in Quito, Ecuador October 13, 2019. REUTERS/Henry Romero

SAO PAULO (Reuters) - The South American trade bloc, Mercosur, along with other countries in the region on Sunday, condemned the unrest in Ecuador, saying mass demonstrations against cuts to fuel subsidies were an attempt to destabilize the government of President Lenín Moreno.

The unrest has been the worst in the small South American country in more than a decade and the latest flashpoint of opposition to the International Monetary Fund in Latin America.

“We endorse the efforts made by Ecuador’s government to maintain peace, public order and democratic institutions by using the instruments provided by the constitution and the law,” Mercosur members said in a joint statement with a group of countries including Peru, Colombia and Chile.

Mercosur groups Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay.

“We condemn acts of violence and attempts to destabilize the country, its institutions and the Ecuadorean democratic process,” the statement added.

Moreno has defended his decision to slash fuel subsidies as a key part of his bid to clean up the country’s finances.

He denied it was a request made by the IMF, with which Ecuador signed a $4.2 billion deal earlier this year, angering former supporters who voted for him in 2017 as the left-leaning successor of his former ally, Rafael Correa.

Brazilian Foreign minister Ernesto Araújo said on Twitter on Sunday that leftist forces were responsible for the unrest in Ecuador.

“South America is mobilized to defend democracy in Ecuador, where leftist forces are trying to undermine the legitimate president Lenin Moreno. The threat is continental, the answer has to be continental,” Araujo wrote.

Reporting by Lisandra Paraguassu; Writing by Gabriela Mello; Editing by Peter Cooney

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