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Student groups demonstrate outside public universities in Quito, Guayaquil on October 10-11

Reports indicate that on October 10-11 student organizations protested against the perceived deterioration of education budgets in Quito and Guayaquil. On October 10 members of the FEUE student union reportedly marched in Quito from the Universidad Central to the historical district without violent incidents being recorded. Subsequently, student groups protested a day later in Guayaquil. The demonstrations were triggered by a series of tax cuts under the so-called “Law of Promotion” (Ley de Fomento) passed in August, which aims at liberalizing the economy. According to student groups, the loss of tax revenue will indirectly reduce funding for public universities. In turn, government sources indicated that students’ fears are unfounded, suggesting the education budget would not be undermined by the abovementioned measure.

Given that the funds allocated for the education budget have traditionally come from taxes applied to the private sector, student groups believe funding for public universities could be jeopardized by the tax cuts. While such concerns cannot be fully discarded at the time being, these fears are probably exaggerated, as there is no evidence suggesting a shrinking budget for education in 2019. Regardless, Ecuadorian student organizations are not likely to desist from taking their grievances to the streets, potentially finding inspiration in recent student protests in neighboring Colombia. Although larger student demonstrations would likely cause traffic disruptions in Quito’s city center, apart from probable minor incidents, protests are unlikely to devolve into violence.

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