The government of Ecuador is cracking down on protests that have rocked the country and crippled oil production. Security forces have detained the prefect of Sucumbios, one of the two main provinces in which demonstrators have caused havoc for several days. The army has taken control of two airports occupied by activists. The president has also appointed a tough-talking defence minister to take the place of Solon Espinoza who resigned over the protests.
Oswaldo Jarrin says force will be used against the rioters if it is needed. “In accordance with its responsibilty under the constitution, the army will apply the necessary procedures to make sure that law and order are maintained in Ecuador,” Jarrin said. The country is the second-largest South American supplier of oil to the United States. The unrest has hit US crude futures and forced Quito to ask Venezuela for an oil loan. Protestors are demanding foreign oil companies provide more jobs and funds for infrastructure projects.