Galapagos briefly paralyzed as islanders strike over losing subsidies; troops fire tear gas

Flights to the Galapagos islands were canceled for the day and Ecuadorean soldiers fired tear gas to clear roads blocked by residents protesting cost-cutting legislation that will strip them of subsidies they call essential to absorb high living costs.

Hundreds took part in the nine-hour strike Friday on the two main islands of the archipelago popular with tourists made famous by naturalist Charles Darwin.

Ecuador's National Assembly overturned on Tuesday a 1978 law giving public employees on the islands a wage subsidy that effectively doubled their salaries. Private workers have been getting a 75 percent subsidy on top of their wages.

The 25,000 inhabitants of the islands, which are 600 miles from Ecuador's coast, also lose the right to fly free of charge to and from the mainland.