QUITO, Ecuador — Tens of thousands of protesters crowded into downtown Guayaquil on Thursday, answering a call from the mayor of Ecuador's biggest city to demonstrate against the national government.
Mayor Jaime Nebot, a conservative, accused President Rafael Correa of trying to build a system that Nebot called a copy of Venezuela's leftist leader, Hugo Chavez.
Supporters of Nebot filled about 20 blocks of coastal Guayaquil's October Avenue, a traditional site for protests and parades. Police said they had no estimate for the size of the crowd, while Ecuadorean media put it at 200,000 to 250,000.
Friction between the president and mayor has worsened since the national government allocated $175 million for Guayaquil's administration rather than the $192 million requested by the city of 2.5 million people.
Correa, like Chavez and Bolivia's Evo Morales, is a leftist seeking to remake his country by redistributing wealth and giving a stronger voice to the poor. That has made him popular with many Ecuadoreans, but also brought strong opposition.
In a speech to the demonstration, Nebot called on supporters to "fight together until the end of the dictatorship."
The mayor charged "there is no democracy" in Ecuador and said the government is trying to control everyone and everything.
"Are we going to continue tolerating that?" he asked, drawing a shout in unison from the crowd: "No!"
Nebot, who was the only speaker, said Correa's government "is a repulsive copy of that failed scheme that Chavez has imposed for the misfortune of Venezuelans."
"A nation like Venezuela that could and should swim in abundance, suffocates in misery and poverty," he said.
Both Venezuela and Ecuador are members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.