Ecuador braced for protests after assassination attempt

 Protests are expected to grip Ecuador this week following the recent attempted assassination of a prominent leader of the indigenous movement. The attempted murder of Leonidas Iza, leader of the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE), on 1 February, is one of many issues intensifying political tensions in the country, which threaten to reach boiling point over the coming weeks. Iza was returning home from Cuba accompanied by several close family members, when two armed men approached him outside CONAIE's headquarters. They threatened to kill him and proceeded to fire at point-blank range. Iza escaped unscathed into the building but some of his family members were injured, including his son Javier, who suffered two bullet wounds. Although the government denies any involvement in the attack, the incident appears to be one in a series of acts of political repression and has fuelled the volatile political situation. Discontent with the government has been growing and recent polls indicate that it has support from just 15 per cent of the population. Iza called for a peaceful response from the indigenous community. But he warned other movement leaders to be on their guard against possible further attacks. Patricio Zhingri of Ecuarunari, CIIR partner and sister organisation of CONAIE, has called for an immediate inquiry into the attack. Last Wednesday, hundreds of members of the indigenous community began their protests against the government in Latacunga, the capital of the Cotopaxi region. Iza said: "We want the nation to know that we are here to say 'enough' to the abuses we have been suffering under this government. The only thing the government has done for us is to come bringing dolls, old computers and sweets." Source: CIIR

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