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Last Updated: Thursday, 16 March 2006, 11:29 GMT
In pictures: Ecuador protests

A barricade in the Pan-American highway in Tabacundo, near Quito

Protests are spreading across Ecuador over controversial free-trade talks between the government in Quito and the US.

Members of the Santa Marianita de Puingulmi community block the Pan-American highway near the town of Oton

The protests are led by indigenous communities, who have been blocking major roads with rubble and burning tyres.

Indigenous women protesters in Cajas, near Quito

They say a trade agreement will affect their livelihoods and are pressing for a referendum on the issue.

An Ecuadorian woman holds a caricature of US President George W Bush in Quito

US President George W Bush has become one of the main targets for protesters.

Indigenous people walk past soldiers guarding the Pan-American highway in Cajas

The four-day protests have disrupted deliveries of some basic food in several provinces, and are starting to hurt the economy.

Soldiers guarding the Pan-American highway in Cajas

There have been reports of clashes with police deployed to guard major roads, including the Pan-American highway.

Ecuadorean President Alfredo Palacio waves from the government palace in Quito

President Alfredo Palacio has denounced the protests, saying they aimed to "tear apart the nation".

Ecuador president calls for calm
16 Mar 06 |  Americas


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