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Ecuador Declares State of Emergency Amid Indian Protest


Ecuadorean President Alfredo Palacio has declared a state of emergency in five provinces in an effort to control renewed protests by Indians opposed to free trade talks with the United States.

The state of emergency, which covers the provinces of Cotopaxi, Canar, Chimborazo, Imbabura and parts of Pinchincha, which surrounds the capital city of Quito, restricts freedom of movement and public gatherings. Interior Minister Felipe Vega announced the measure on Tuesday, saying the president made the decision after exhausting all other options for dialogue.

More than a week of road blockades by Ecuador's indigenous peoples has taken a toll on businesses, disrupted food deliveries and caused price increases.

The protesters are demanding that the Ecuadorean government abandon the talks, saying a trade pact will damage their livelihoods and way of life. President Palacio has pledged to continue the discussions, which resume Thursday.

Colombia and Peru have already signed trade deals with Washington.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.