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    France Administrator Hervé's Avatar
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    Default Turmoil in Ecuador

    Ecuador declares state of emergency amid fuel protests

    Deutsche Welle
    cmb/cmk (EFE, AP, Reuters)



    After announcing a multibillion-dollar fiscal reform package, President Lenin Moreno is now facing street protests and transport strikes. The reform measures are aimed at improving the country's economic revenue.


    Ecuador's President Lenin Moreno has declared a state of emergency in response to nationwide protests over fiscal reforms valued over $2 billion (€1.8 billion) per year.

    Moreno announced the package of reforms on Tuesday; its measures include tax reform, relaxing labor protections and doing away with 40-year-old fuel subsidies. He said the elimination of the fuel subsidies was needed to lift the economy and stop smuggling.

    In a television address, Moreno said the price of gasoline would go up to $2.30 a gallon from $1.85 and the cost of diesel up to $2.27 from $1.03.

    Moreno also announced that Ecuador would be leaving the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), of which it is the smallest member, on January 1, 2020 in order to increase its exports beyond the restrictions imposed by the group.

    Protesters included university students, union members and indigenous rights' activists

    Tear gas and arrests
    Increased fuel prices went into effect on Thursday, prompting Ecuadorians to take to the streets of the capital, Quito, and Guayaquil, the country's largest city.

    Taxi, bus and truck drivers blocked streets and bus stations were closed for a nationwide transport strike, forcing the government to suspend schools.

    Various groups of protesters blocked roads, burned tires and scuffled with police, who responded in certain instances with tear gas.

    The demonstrators put the fuel measures at the forefront of their protest message, but also called for the general repeal of the package.

    According to the Interior Ministry, some 19 people were arrested in relation to the protests.

    Moreno: No going back
    Moreno said he called the state of emergency "to ensure citizens' security and avoid chaos." The measure suspends some civil rights, allows authorities to commandeer public or private property and empowers the military to keep order.

    Hours later, he told reporters that order had been restored and praised the armed forces and police. "The areas of violence are being controlled almost totally," he said.

    Moreno, who has promoted market-friendly policies since his election in 2017, said he would not backtrack on the fiscal reform. He described the fuel subsidies as "perverse" and said they had distorted Ecuador's economy.

    Ecuador, which has a population of 17 million, has a long history of political and economic instability.

    Prior to Moreno taking office, the country had been on a leftist economic course under Rafael Correa for 10 years. It is currently struggling with high levels of public debt.

    Moreno's administration reached a $4.2 billion deal with the International Monetary Fund in February. However, many remain skeptical of its austerity policies.

    ===================================

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    Default Re: Turmoil in Ecuador

    Anybody heard from Bill Ryan since this started?

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    Default Re: Turmoil in Ecuador

    Quote Posted by pyrangello (here)
    Anybody heard from Bill Ryan since this started?
    pyrangello, you must’ve missed the tail end of Hervé’s post.. Bill has been having a bit of an unplanned adventure but he and Mara are fine. I’m sure he’ll post about it when he is back online
    "Love is the only engine of survival.." Leonard Cohen

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    UK Avalon Founder Bill Ryan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Turmoil in Ecuador

    Quote Posted by Ken (here)
    Quote Posted by pyrangello (here)
    Anybody heard from Bill Ryan since this started?
    pyrangello, you must’ve missed the tail end of Hervé’s post.. Bill has been having a bit of an unplanned adventure but he and Mara are fine. I’m sure he’ll post about it when he is back online
    Many thanks, and yes, all's well. But, OMG.

    I heard about the protests on Thursday morning, but needed to head into town, 20 miles away, as my cupboard was fairly bare. Bad timing! I finally got to sleep last night at midnight after a 48 hour day.

    I'd figured if I hit a roadblock (trucks and buses across the road, plus burning tires and trees) I'd simply turn round and return home. That's what happened, but by that time there was another new roadblock behind me. So I was sandwiched between them.

    I ventured out on to the mountain dirt roads, with no map or GPS. I navigated three (one on Thursday, one overnight, and another yesterday). Each time I was getting slightly nearer home. Finally, I was totally trapped, but was able to borrow a mountain bike (there are some very nice people here!) and make it back home to feed Mara, who'd had nothing to eat for 36 hours and had no clue where I was.

    Then with Mara taken care of, I had to return the bike (now carrying a backpack of survival supplies) and go rescue my vehicle. I finally got home last night, after encountering a last roadblock just 500 meters from my house.

    The guys wanted money, and had a machete. I locked my doors, rolled up my window, put it into first and floored the accelerator. I crashed through the road block with the only damage being the guy with the machete crashing it down on my hood making a nice dent. (Just another war wound!)

    Because they were probably local and might know where I lived (the only gringo around, with a distinctive old vehicle), I brought Mara inside, locked up the entire house, locked the gate (something I rarely do), and turned off every light. I slept for 10 hours, and everything was fine.

    But here are the political points. All this is SO dumb.

    Increasing the previously subsidized price of diesel from $1.03 to $2.39 was always going to cause apocalyptic trouble. A high-school kid in their first economics class could see that. Not only was it a nationwide shock that no-one had foreseen, if the increases stick it's BOUND to trigger fast inflation as the costs of transporting everything, including people, more than double.

    The unions have now said they'll call off the protests, but no-one has told the truck, bus and taxi drivers. Or the citizens, who in a bewildering display of organization had blocked literally every asphalted road in Ecuador, and some of the dirt roads, too. Here's a quaint photo I took yesterday during one of many failed forays to get home.

    This was on a mountain road in the middle of NOWHERE. A local farming family had took it on themselves to cut down a large tree and burn it. You can see all the little kids playing, all having a great time. This family probably doesn't even own a vehicle, but they're still doing their thing for the country (they believe).



    There's nothing on the roads today, either, whatever the news reports claim. The country is still stopped dead, and it's all continuing. I'm taking stock of my supplies, but I'm in reasonably good shape here.

    A couple of interesting final points.
    • This is 'people power', too (see my People Power in Puerto Rico thread) but this seems very different from the protests there. Here, there's violence, some danger, and quite a lot of thuggery. With Puerto Rico, I didn't get that impression at all. It looked more like a big carnival!
    • And the other interesting thing is that anything can happen at any time. Really, to any of us. Something unexpected can occur literally overnight, and then there's chaos. And the supply chains are so thin and stretched. Everything, including food and fuel supplies, let along people getting to work, depends on transport. If the infrastructure breaks, then the way society is at the moment everything just collapses very quickly. So all in all... it was all quite an instructive experience. And it may not be over yet, at all.

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    UK Avalon Member Sunny-side-up's Avatar
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    Default Re: Turmoil in Ecuador

    Glad you OK Bill, adventures like that you could do with out.

    You both stay safe and well.
    Last edited by Sunny-side-up; 6th October 2019 at 12:45.
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    Default Re: Turmoil in Ecuador

    Wishing you All The Best, Bill.

    boja.

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    Wink Re: Turmoil in Ecuador

    So good you are safe and sound Bill. I live in Guayaquil on the coast and I am good. In fact life has been normal around my part of town. Thursday everybody had trouble getting to work but they did. Friday it was more difficult. No classes for 2 days.
    I have some family friends that have a huge business selling kitchen appliances , a/c, all kinds of electronics big and small. They have branch stores ( hope that is the word ) in poor suburban areas ...... 4 or 5 of them were completely destroyed and left empty on thursday.

    Some friends who live outside Cuenca were on their motorcycle on their way to the city when they were stopped by a road block on friday. It was near their farm and some of the indigenous people knew who they were. Still they wanted to make holes in their wheels and when my friend ( a woman ) tried to prevent it she was beaten. Nothing mayor happened but she was soooo mad. She was more mad that scare.

    My personal opinion is that this subsidizing gasoline and diesel cannot continue. It has been going on for decades. Correa for all the good things he did , also left us with huge problems including more debts. Just google Ecuador debt to China for example. ( I don’t know how to do it. ) Lenin Moreno is willing to negotiate to find other economic measures to compensate the sectors that have been more affected with this decision, but he says he is not backing up.

    The Conaie ( the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador ) have said they will continue with their strike and will start walking from every point in Ecuador to Quito’s general Assembly on Monday to take it over. They are a force to be reckon with.

    Edit : you hear so many gossip/ false information, but I am going to fill my car , get more gas to cook, and buy some more food just in case. And correct a word : whole for holes. Ughhhhh
    Last edited by Rosemarie; 5th October 2019 at 23:16.

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    UK Avalon Founder Bill Ryan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Turmoil in Ecuador

    Quote Posted by Rosemarie (here)
    The Conaie ( the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador ) have said they will continue with their strike and will start walking from every point in Ecuador to Quito’s general Assembly on Monday to take it over. They are a force to be reckon with.
    That's really interesting.... I'll stay tuned, and will post updates. The indigenous issue here has been a powder keg just waiting to be lit.

    Quote Posted by Rosemarie (here)
    So good you are safe and sound Bill. I live in Guayaquil on the coast and I am good. In fact life has been normal around my part of town. Thursday everybody had trouble getting to work but they did. Friday it was more difficult. No classes for 2 days.

    I have some family friends that have a huge business selling kitchen appliances , a/c, all kinds of electronics big and small. They have branch stores ( hope that is the word ) in poor suburban areas ...... 4 or 5 of them were completely destroyed and left empty on thursday.

    Some friends who live outside Cuenca were on their motorcycle on their way to the city when they were stopped by a road block on friday. It was near their farm and some of the indigenous people knew who they were. Still they wanted to make holes in their wheels and when my friend ( a woman ) tried to prevent it she was beaten. Nothing mayor happened but she was soooo mad. She was more mad that scared.
    Yes, there's a lot of potential violence, targeted against just about anyone (but especially anyone who looks like they may possibly have any money).

    I'm going to make my way to the weekly Sunday morning market in the nearest small town tomorrow to stock up on fresh fruit and veg. It's not far (just 10 miles/15 km), but a road block is a road block, and there's a small mountain dirt road that will get me most of the way there. But I'm taking a tow rope, saws, a spade, leather gloves, a heavy metal bar and a machete of my own in case I encounter troublemakers. I'd never use weapons in anger myself, but I can look pretty scary if I really have to.

    Quote Posted by Rosemarie (here)
    My personal opinion is that this subsidizing gasoline and diesel cannot continue. It has been going on for decades. Correa for all the good things he did , also left us with huge problems including more debts. Just google Ecuador debt to China for example. ( I don’t know how to do it. ) Lenin Moreno is willing to negotiate to find other economic measures to compensate the sectors that have been more affected with this decision, but he says he is not backing up.
    Yes, The dumb thing may have been removing the subsidies suddenly, and all at once. A 125% overnight rise in the price of diesel is HUGE. All those costs would be passed straight on to consumers (and particularly, poorer people).

    For instance, the bus fare which locals use to take things to the market 20 miles away will probably increase from $0.75 to $2.00. That's an extra $2.50 per day. These folks only earn maybe $300 a month, so for 20 market days in a month, it's an extra $50 in travel. That's 15% of their income, an enormous amount. So that means they'll have to charge more in the market for their produce. Etc, etc, etc.

    Much wiser would have been
    1. To announce it first, then gradually start taking measures a couple of weeks later.
    2. To remove the subsidies (and increase the prices) bit by bit, every few weeks. That way, the outrage and reaction would be greatly diluted.
    Last edited by Bill Ryan; 5th October 2019 at 22:02.

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    Default Re: Turmoil in Ecuador

    Just for general information. Mimimun wages in some Latin American countries and gasoline prices.
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    "Be kind for everybody is fighting a great battle" Plato

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    Default Re: Turmoil in Ecuador

    It was just in the news the ANT ( National Transit Agency ) authorize 32% increase for public transportation between provinces and a $0.05 - $0.10 increase for urban transport to be decided by each municipality. Preferencial treatment for older people, disabilities or children remain the same.

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    Default Re: Turmoil in Ecuador

    Take care Rosemarie and Bil. I will not return to Ecuador until the 22nd. I wonder if LATAM will be flying then. Here, in Ireland things are so very peaceful it is difficult to imagine the ‘troubles’ now in Ecuador. I also am surprised that Moreno dropped the subsidy all at once.
    - Warren Light

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    Default Re: Turmoil in Ecuador

    Here's a local update. Of course, it's only directly relevant to a tiny number of people reading this, but the bigger picture analogies may be relevant. Things like this could happen anywhere, almost overnight — even in Europe and North America.

    And useful to wnlight, too (Warren Light), who lives here but is currently on vacation in Ireland — perfect timing!

    https://cuencahighlife.com/as-calm-r...clear-highways

    As calm returns to Cuenca and other cities, police and soldiers move to clear highways
    Oct 6, 2019

    Ecuador’s interior ministry says it is mobilizing tens-of-thousands of national police and army troops to clear roadblocks that have paralyzed travel in much of the country. Manned by campesino and indigenous groups protesting economic measures announced last week by President Lenin Moreno, roadblocks have been set up in 14 of the country’s 24 provinces.

    Cuenca residents clean up streets from last week’s protests.

    Although protests in major cities, including Cuenca, have ended and most urban transportation has been restored, it was unclear as of early Monday when inter-provincial bus service would resume.

    Also affected by the road closures were shipments of food, fuel and other goods around the country. The interior ministry said it was planning a military escort service, if necessary, to guarantee that delivery vehicles carrying critical supplies could pass through the roadblocks.

    Ecuador’s ECU 911 service is maintaining a list of road closures it says is updated on a continuing basis.

    On Sunday, Moreno proposed meetings with protesters blocking highways but his overture was rejected. “We refuse to engage in any discussions until all of the government’s labor and fuel changes have been rescinded,” said Leonidas Iza, president of the Indigenous and Peasant Movement of Cotopaxi who is leading a march on Quito. Some protesting groups are demanding an end to mining operations as well.


    Residents of Saragura occupy a roadblock that prevents access between Cuenca and Loja.

    Although the national strike by taxi and bus unions was called off on Friday, there was confusion over the weekend about how much fares would be allowed to increase. In Guayaquil, some urban buses had hiked prices by 10 cents but city officials said the increase was illegal. In Cuenca, where fares are paid by magnetic card, not cash, the mayor’s office said that any fare increase is restricted by an agreement the previous city government made in 2018 with bus companies.

    The federal government said urban bus fares would be allowed to rise five to 10 cents but the decision was up to municipalities.

    On Saturday and Sunday, commercial and social life in Cuenca returned to normal as there was no recurrence of the Thursday and Friday student protests. Groups from the University of Cuenca and the University of Azuay carried out clean-up projects in several locations in the historic district. Although some vandalism resulted from last week’s protests, city officials said it was relatively minor, unlike the theft and destruction of property that occurred in Guayaquil, Riobamba and Quito.

    After announcing Saturday that elementary and high school classes would resume Monday, the Ministry of Education did an about-face Sunday night, saying schools would remain closed.

    Ecuador’s Defense Minister said that police and military troops will be restrained but firm as they to remove roadblocks. “We will do everything possible to avoid violence but warn protesters not to provoke the troops,” Oswaldo Jarrín said Sunday. “They have a job to do, which is to enforce the law.”

    Violence erupted at a roadblock in Saraguro in 2015 as military troops moved against anti-government protesters. The clash left several troops and protesters injured and resulted in arrests.

    Most Cuenca markets were well-stocked with produce and meat over the weekend but some shelves at the city’s supermarkets, such as Supermaxi, were empty. Supermaxi issued an apology Sunday, saying that the lack of vegetables, fruit and meat was the result of exceptionally heavy shopping traffic as well as difficulties encountered by delivery trucks.

    ~~~

    Here's a REALLY powerful article about how exactly the same thing could happen in the US. Start reading from the top of page 5. It was first written back in 2004, but it's still 100% relevant.


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    Default Re: Turmoil in Ecuador

    477 people arrested on Ecuador

    QUITO (Reuters) - Indigenous protesters paralyzed roads around Ecuador and blocked a main highway into the capital on Monday in a fifth day of action against government austerity measures that have sparked the worst unrest in years, resulting in 477 arrests.



    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-e...-idUSKBN1WM1EP
    here I am, but I don't belong to this world
    So, nothing there are here belongs to me.

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    UK Avalon Founder Bill Ryan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Turmoil in Ecuador

    Well, it's getting ugly again. A friend was unable to get to Cuenca today, even with a bicycle he had as a lifeboat on the back of his truck. He just wasn't allowed through.

    And now there are long lines for gas cylinders, for hot water and cooking. Most of the population uses those. (But I have enough here to last 3 months.)



    And the giant Cuenca market is running low on produce, while the delivery prices have all increased substantially.

    And sadly, there was the first fatality today. A motorist trying to force his way through a roadblock ran over a pedestrian. Then the protestors wouldn't even allow the ambulance through, and the paramedic had to make his way on foot, and couldn't save the guy. That's all pretty barbaric.



    The philosophical takeaway from things like this is how easily our "civilization" descends into barbarism. It can happen in days. Wherever you are in the world, don't ever quite forget that.

    You don't need to be a Mad Max prepper, but it's smart to always have "What if?" Plan B somewhere in the back of your mind, just in case something really does happen where you live overnight. I never saw any of this coming, here — no-one did.
    Last edited by Bill Ryan; 7th October 2019 at 20:09.

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    Default Re: Turmoil in Ecuador

    https://amp.theguardian.com/world/20...erity-protests

    If somebody can open this link ....
    It is getting very ugly. Just got a voice message from an unknown woman that says she is hiding with her kids because the indigenous people are getting angrier. There is infiltration in their mist from other groups with a political agenda and they have been paying the peoole $25 to cause havoc. She lives outside Quito.

    The indigenous people have taken prisioners a lot of militaries and they are coming down the mountain by the thousands. They are entering some plantations and destroying everything. Went inside a milk factory called Parmalat in Lasso and destroyed it , they are going to their own marketplaces and destroying everything, burning them. This woman says they went inside a brocoli farm and destroyed all the machinery valued at 5 million dollars. They do not let people work. They enter inside the houses of their own people and tell them to get in a pickup truck that will take them to the bigger cities.

    I am trying to write as I listen to the voice mail it was sent to me. Sorry for any mistakes. I am getting in my car and going to buy more food. Gas I have , but was not able to find bottle water
    "Be kind for everybody is fighting a great battle" Plato

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    Default Re: Turmoil in Ecuador

    Rosemarie and Bill and all of you there are in my intention for safety in the storm. Maggie

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    UK Avalon Founder Bill Ryan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Turmoil in Ecuador

    Quote Posted by Rosemarie (here)
    https://amp.theguardian.com/world/20...erity-protests

    If somebody can open this link ....
    For sure.

    Ecuador: indigenous protesters paralyze roads in fifth day of anti-austerity unrest
    Reuters in Quito
    Mon 7 Oct 2019 18.03 BST



    Measure to eliminate fuel subsidies sparks worst unrest in years, resulting in 477 arrests

    Indigenous protesters have paralyzed roads around Ecuador and blocked a main highway into the capital in a fifth day of action against government austerity measures that have sparked the worst unrest in years, resulting in 477 arrests.

    The umbrella indigenous organization Conaie said demonstrations would continue until President Lenín Moreno withdraws last week’s measure to eliminate fuel subsidies.

    “More than 20,000 of us will be arriving in Quito to demand that the government overturn the decree,” the Conaie president, Jaime Vargas, told a news conference, saying that mobilization would coincide with a national strike planned for Wednesday.

    Moreno, 66, who has abandoned his predecessor and one-time mentor Rafael Correa’s leftist policies, says he will neither tolerate disorder nor overturn the fuel price hike that is part of a liberal economic reform package.

    The interior minister, Paula Romo, told the local Radio Quito that detentions had risen to 477 since Thursday, mainly for vandalism, including the destruction of a dozen ambulances.

    Indigenous and workers’ movements again blocked roads on Monday, from the Andean highlands to the Pacific coast, with stones, tires and burning branches.

    The northern entry to Quito was paralyzed.

    Police erected barricades around the presidential palace, closing off the downtown area while Moreno presided over a government security council meeting to assess the crisis.

    The government says two dozen policemen have been injured in clashes with protesters, while a man died when he was hit by a car and an ambulance could not reach him through the barricades.

    As well as the detainees for unrest, authorities have also rounded up about 20 shopkeepers for raising food prices illegally in a knock-on effect of higher fuel costs.

    A state of emergency is in place.

    Although he enjoys the support of business and the military, Moreno’s popularity has sunk to under 30%, compared with 70% after his 2017 election.

    Indigenous-led protests brought down three presidents in the years before Correa’s rule.

    In a national address on Sunday night, Moreno reiterated calls for dialogue. “I want to talk with the indigenous brothers, with whom we share causes,” he said, adding that resources would be set aside to help the poor and compensate for price rises.

    The government is struggling with a large foreign debt and fiscal deficit and earlier this year reached a $4.2bn loan deal with the International Monetary Fund that hinges on belt-tightening reforms.

    As well as ending fuel subsidies, the government is trimming the state workforce and planning some privatizations. Moreno says the fuel subsidies, in place for four decades, had distorted the economy and cost $60bn.
    Last edited by Bill Ryan; 7th October 2019 at 23:09.

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    "Be kind for everybody is fighting a great battle" Plato

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    Default Re: Turmoil in Ecuador

    This is what happens when you turn your economy over to the IMF and the World Bank.

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    UK Avalon Founder Bill Ryan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Turmoil in Ecuador

    In the middle of the night, very early Friday morning, when totally logjammed at a huge roadblock, a convoy of 50 22-wheeler Kenworth tractor-trailers each hauling 10,000 gallons of petroleum came steaming through, accompanied by army trucks with guns and riot shields.

    That was good to see: I figured at least we'd all get through and get home at last.

    But the protesters simply let the oil tankers through. They had no choice! After that, the army continued on with the convoy and the road block quickly reassembled itself. I got home some 12 hours later, the next afternoon, via a remote mountain dirt road I found and successfully navigated.

    It's kind of every person for themselves here at the moment. The army and police seem to be doing little or nothing for the regular people. The innocent locals are disgusted, and the country is being cleaved in half: citizens vs citizens. Many are suffering who were never once any part of this problem.

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