Hello again from south of the equator! As you may or may not have heard (because the international news media isn't really giving the situation much coverage), Ecuador is in the grip of a major social protest movement. This started on October 1, when fuel subsidies in the country were abruptly struck causing the prices of gasoline and diesel to more than double overnight. Transport and heavy haulage unions immediately went on strike, and blocked the main roads of the cities with their vehicles in protest. The indigenous movements of the central Sierra, beginning in my province, Tungurahua, joined the strike on October 2, and the President quickly declared a State of Emergency that restricts movement, freedom of the press, and freedom association. The indigenous took over the road blockades on October 3, cutting the cities off from the world; Ambato became an island overnight.
It is now October 8, one week into the blockades. Shortages in the fresh markets and supermarkets began on Sunday, as people realized that we were in for a long-haul of protest and possibly an overthrow of the sitting government. Ecuador's indigenous have a long history of deposing governments in this way, and it's not a fast process.
I'll be blogging informally throughout the National Strike, to document how the inevitable food shortages affect the city and my own table.
These first pictures are from Sunday, October 6. In the Mercado Mayorista, a place I've always taken you along to when I've blogged from Ambato, the cement floors of the naves are visible in places where they have never, in my experience, been exposed. The fresh corn nave is all but abandoned - this is because all of the corn in the city's stock has been sold. I'll remind you: a nave in this market is about a thousand square metres of space. This is also missing the big trucks that come to trade fresh grains in the parking lot, because they couldn't make it through the roadblocks. Most of the Mayorista is in the same situation - stocks are selling off fast.
The supermarkets are even more dire. The meat coolers are completely empty, and the produce shelves are diminishing quickly.