Ecuador’s economy and health ministers quit government

By Yuri Garcia

QUITO (Reuters) – Ecuador’s Health Minister Ximena Garzon resigned from President Guillermo Lasso’s government on Monday, after learning earlier that Economy Minister Simon Cueva would also leave the administration.

“I am deeply grateful for the opportunity you have given me and I am proud to have helped control the COVID-19 pandemic with you,” Garzon said in a resignation letter to Lasso seen by Reuters.

Ecuadorian Public Administration Secretary Ivan Correa revealed Cueva’s impending departure during an interview with local TV channel Teleamazonas earlier on Monday.

The needed cabinet changes followed more than two weeks of protests, he said, without explaining the exact connection.

Correa’s office and the Economy Ministry did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Cueva’s role has also included that of Minister of Finance. Lasso is a former conservative banker.

Changes to the government would be announced tomorrow, Correa said in the interview.

“Without a doubt, changes are coming,” he said. “The president is evaluating all these changes and what is certain is that they will be announced tomorrow, including obviously at the Ministry of Finance.”

Other ministers will also leave the government, Correa said, without specifying which ones.

“There are other changes also within the cabinet which will be announced by the president tomorrow afternoon,” he said.

The announcement follows weeks of protests that erupted in Ecuador in June demanding lower fuel prices and limits on the expansion of the mining and oil industries. Organized by indigenous leaders, the protests left at least eight people dead and halted oil production.

A pact to end the crisis was signed Thursday between the government and indigenous leaders.

Lasso appointed Cueva last year, giving him the task of reducing the budget deficit, which the government hopes to cut by $2 billion this year.

(Reporting by Yury GarciaWriting by Oliver Griffin; Editing by Franklin Paul and Bradley Perrett)

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