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General Strike Nearly Paralyzes Ecuador's Capital

Indigenous walk on the Pan-American Highway, as they make their way to Quito to take part in a national strike protesting the policies of President Rafael Correa, outside of Quito, Ecuador, Aug. 13, 2015.

Dozens of workers, union leaders and indigenous Ecuadorians on Thursday blocked roads to Quito with branches and rocks to protest President Rafael Correa's plans to hike taxes and reform the constitution to allow indefinite presidential re-election.

Thousands of Ecuadoreans have participated in demonstrations in the last weeks, mainly in wealthy parts of capital Quito and the coastal city of Guayaquil, against socialist Correa, who accuses them of plotting a coup.

"We want... the government to respect the constitution," said Mesias Tatamuez, a union leader who was protesting in Quito as part of a general strike called in protest against the government on Thursday.

"What we're asking for is to forget these constitutional amendments [to allow indefinite re-election] and a referendum on this issue and the country we want."

Protesters said more union leaders, students and politicians would join their demonstration on Thursday afternoon.

So far, however, there has been low adherence to the strike called in protest to Correa, a 52-year-old economist first elected in 2007.

The oil industry, transport and other services were operating normally in the country of 15 million.

Correa, who remains popular with many indigenous and lower-income Ecuadorians, says his fiscal reforms would help wealth distribution in the poor Andean nation. He condemned the latest round of protests.

"They're hurting the country, not the government. We cannot be submitted to the abuses of an absolute minority," the president wrote on Twitter.