Quito, Oct 10 (AP/UNB) — An indigenous leader and four other people have died in unrest in Ecuador since last week, the public defender's office said Thursday.
The state agency, which monitors human rights, identified the indigenous leader as Inocencio Tucumbi of Ecuador's Cotopaxi region.
The office of President Lenín Moreno, however, said the number of deaths was lower. It said two people had died in accidents linked to the violence across the country.
One person was hit and killed by a car, and another person suffered fatal injuries after a fall during protests in Quito, said José Briones, secretary general of the president's office.
There was no immediate explanation for the discrepancy in the reports on the death toll.
Also Thursday, indigenous demonstrators were holding captive at least eight police officers following anti-government protests.
The uniformed officers were brought onto a stage by protesters who are based at a cultural center in the capital, Quito.
One of the officers was forced to drape a national flag around his shoulders and don a hat of a style worn by some indigenous people.
Indigenous leader Jaime Vargas invited the captive police to join the anti-government campaign of the protesters.
Elsewhere in Quito, security forces patrolled after a day of protests that included clashes with police.
Ecuador's indigenous groups as well as labor organizations and other demonstrators mobilized after the removal of fuel subsidies, a step announced by Moreno last week.
The announcement led to a sharp increase in fuel prices and unrest in many parts of the country. The discontent widened to include calls for the resignation of Moreno, who has refused to quit.
Indigenous protesters played a major role in the 2005 resignation of Ecuador's president at the time, Lucio Gutiérrez, though the military's tacit approval was key to his removal.
Ecuador's cuts in fuel subsidies were among measures announced as part of a $4.2 billion funding plan with the International Monetary Fund, which said the package will strengthen the economy and generate jobs.
Indigenous groups condemn the deal with the IMF, saying austerity measures will deepen economic inequality.
Brussels, Oct 10 (AP/UNB) — Former Ecuador President Rafael Correa is dismissing as "nonsense" allegations that he is plotting with Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro to destabilize the current Ecuador government amid violent unrest sparked by fuel price hikes.
In an interview with The Associated Press, Correa called for a new election to solve the crisis. He has been accused by his successor, Lenin Moreno, of trying to foment a coup. Correa said "Moreno says whatever he wants, but this is irrational ... it's ridiculous."
Correa, who settled in Belgium after he left office in 2017, faces an arrest warrants issued last year in Ecuador for alleged corruption.
Correa said "the solution is very clear ... to call for anticipated election in the case of very strong political crisis or social unrest. Exactly the situation that we have right now."
Rio De Janeiro, Oct 6 (AP/UNB) — Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has instructed federal police and the navy to join an investigation of oil spills that have contaminated parts of the northeast coast in recent weeks.
The order, published in an official gazette on Saturday, escalates a probe into the pollution that environmental officials say has affected coastal waters and dozens of beaches.
Authorities say they have not determined the origin of the oil, which has killed some turtles and forced bathers and fishermen to stay away from contaminated areas.
State oil company Petrobras has conducted an analysis and says the spilled oil isn't the type that it produces.
Bolsonaro is urging security forces involved in the investigation to provide a preliminary assessment early next week.
Sao Paulo, Oct 5 (AP/UNB) — Brazil's tourism minister committed electoral crimes during last year's general elections, police said Friday.
Prosecutors endorsed the police findings, opening the way for a judge to decide whether the case against the minister, Marcelo Alvaro Antonio, should go to trial.
Antonio was leading President Jair Bolsonaro's party in Minas Gerais state during the 2018 election. Police say Antonio abused a law requiring parties to have women make up at least 30 percent of their candidates.
Testimonies suggest many women on the far-right party slate were basically fake candidates who received no campaign funds or promotion.
Some received small amounts and then had to return them to party coffers, police said.
Antonio said in a statement that he trusts "truth will prevail in the case."
The minister has denied any wrongdoing since the first of many complaints about the issue appeared in March.
He could face several years of jail time if the case against him goes to trial and he is convicted.
Bolsonaro's spokesman said the Brazilian president will not fire the embattled minister. Bolsonaro campaigned on an anti-corruption platform.