Debbie Mucarsel-Powell Monitoring Ecuador as Protests Against Oil Prices Continue

As Ecuador reels from continued protests over high oil prices, the first member of Congress born in South America weighed in last week.

Freshman U.S. Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, D-Fla., was born in Ecuador and moved to the U.S. when she was 14.

With protests in Ecuador growing increasingly violent, the congresswomen offered her thoughts about the continued problems which have led to a reduction in that nation’s oil production.

“Thus far, the protests have disrupted more than 200,000 barrels of oil production, creating a loss of $12.8 million,” reported Julianne Geiger at oilprice.com. “Ecuador, who exports 315,000 bpd, currently has contracts with Chile, PetroChina, Unipec, and PetroThailand according to TeleSUR, but its larger clients include Chevron, Valero, and Marathon Petroleum Corp—Ecuador’s largest customer. Marathon purchased 59,000 bpd from Ecuador in July. The protests, which were sparked in part by high fuel prices, have drug on for a week, and Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno is hoping to settle the matter through dialogue with the country’s indigenous population. But so far, the interaction between the protesters and security forces in the country have resulted in violence. But what the protesters want is the return of fuel subsidies, which Ecuador canceled in a deal it made with the IMF to secure more than $4 billion in funding. Fuel prices have seen increases of up to 120 percent when the end of the subsidies came into effect earlier this month.”

Mucarsel-Powell promised to keep a close eye on the protests and their impact on Ecuador.

“As the situation in Ecuador continues to develop, I will continue to closely monitor the situation,” she said last week. “I have had a chance to communicate with and express my concern about the violence to both the U.S. and Ecuadorian governments.

“Freedom of speech and assembly are vital to a democracy, but violence is never the answer,” Mucarsel-Powell added. “I believe the only way to find a solution to these complicated issues is through a productive dialogue between the government and the protesters. All parties should be coming to the table to reach a peaceful resolution to the unrest. As a beacon of democracy in the world, the U.S. needs to continue to push for a diplomatic solution to this issue – not only for Ecuador but to protect the stability of the entire region.”

Reach Kevin Derby at kevin.derby@floridadaily.com

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