[News] Reports from Ecuador: Democracy Under Threat

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Fri Oct 1 10:41:30 EDT 2010


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Report from Ecuador: Democracy Under Threat

http://upsidedownworld.org/main/component/content/article/2720-report-from-ecuador-democracy-under-threat-
Written by Jennifer Moore
Friday, 01 October 2010 08:05


Faced with an apparent attempt to oust Ecuadorian President Rafael 
Correa on Thursday, Ecuador received an outpouring of support from 
Honduras to the White House. Most Ecuadorian social organizations, 
many of whom have had serious differences with the Andean president 
in recent years, also condemned threats on the country's democratic 
and constitutional order.

Early Thursday, Ecuador awoke to police protests across at least six 
highland and coastal cities. Police burned tires, shut down a main 
bridge in the economic centre of Guayaquil, and neglected their posts 
giving way to some looting and robberies before midday. The police 
said they were protesting the Public Security Law passed Wednesday 
night, which they claim will retract certain economic benefits from 
the armed forces such as bonuses and medals.

When President Rafael Correa personally confronted police protesting 
at the First Regiment in the nation's capital of Quito, police 
responded with tear gas. The President, who recently underwent knee 
surgery, fell and was carried into the police hospital.

Police who had been protesting started returning to work in other 
parts of the country by early afternoon, but tension continued in the 
capital while Correa remained in hospital.  State media dominated the 
airwaves, accusing the country's right wing of an attempted coup and 
alleging involvement of the opposition Patriotic Society Party and 
the influence of ex-President Lucio Gutierrez who was overthrown in a 
popular ouster in April 2005. Correa reported that police told him he 
would not escape from his hospital room if he did not revoke the 
Public Security Law.

Popular mobilizations in support of the President grew throughout the 
afternoon and into the evening, with the political crisis persisting 
until shortly before 10 pm when a five hundred and fifty strong 
military and police operation returned the President to the 
government palace. One special forces officer was reported to have 
been killed in the operation and several others wounded.

Outpouring of international support

With the military-backed elite ouster of President Manuel Zelaya from 
Honduras in June 2009 still fresh in recent memory in Latin America, 
the democratically-elected President Correa received a quick 
outpouring of international support.

Honduran social organizations still reeling from the 2009 coup were 
among the earliest to send their messages of solidarity. Targeted 
assassinations and threats against social movements in the largest of 
Central American countries continue to be denounced on a monthly 
basis, the country has also become one of the most dangerous 
worldwide for journalists, and has yet to be reemitted into the 
Organizations of American States (OAS).

Latin American, European and North American governments also 
expressed support for the maintenance of democratic order in Ecuador. 
The OAS "repudiated" any attempt against the Correa administration 
and made a call to governments and multilateral institutions in the 
region to "stop the coup d'etat from becoming a reality," urging them 
to act "in a unanimous way." Statements were also released by the US 
Department of State and later in the day by Canada's Department of 
Foreign Affairs, which remain important trade and investment partners 
for the oil-dependent Andean nation. The US urged Ecuadorians "to 
work within the framework of Ecuador's democratic institutions to 
reach a rapid and peaceful restoration of order," whereas Canada said 
that "it is concerned about growing unrest" and reiterated "support 
for the democratically elected government of the Republic of Ecuador."

Indigenous oppose coup and call for greater democracy

Although indigenous and other social organizations in Ecuador have 
been in conflict with the Correa administration for the last few 
years, important groups such as the Confederation of Indigeous 
Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE) and ECUARUNARI, the large highland 
affiliate of the CONAIE, made strong statements condemning all 
threats on Ecuadorian democracy.

The CONAIE and ECUARUNARI have led regular protests against various 
policy reforms taking place under the Correa government during the 
last year, for which their leaders have recently faced terrorist 
charges. At the local level, indigenous and non-indigenous 
communities protesting mining and oil expansion have also faced 
repeated repression and recent criminalization. Despite, however, 
calls from at least one political representative of the indigenous 
Pachakutik party to support opposition to the Correa government, 
these organizations maintained a firm stance in defense of democracy.

The CONAIE blamed Correa's lack of openness to dialogue concerning 
current reforms and his failure to build strong alliances with 
Ecuadorian social movements as a source of vulnerability to attempts 
from the right to destabilize his government. "While the government 
has dedicated itself exclusively to attacking and delegitimizing 
organized sectors like the indigenous movement, workers' unions, 
etc.," the CONAIE observed, "it hasn't weakened in the least the 
structures of power of the right, or those within the state apparatus."

The CONAIE also credited the most reactionary right wing elements in 
the country with backing Correa's ouster, anticipating that the 
policitical crisis could be used to legitimate right wing tendencies 
"from inside and outside the government... to justify their total 
alliance with the most reactionary sectors and with emerging business 
interests." While stating their opposition to Correa's support for 
expansion of oil and metal mining extraction and agro-industry 
interests, they energetically rejected this "disguised right wing 
support" for the attempted coup, saying they " will continue to 
struggle for the construction of a plurinational state with a true democracy."

ECUARUNARI also released its own statement blaming the right and 
imperialist interests with trying to organize Correa's ouster in 
reaction to the country's Political Constitution which was passed 
overwhelmingly in September 2008. The new constitution recognizes the 
human right to water, rights for nature, and Ecuador as a 
plurinational state. While ECUARUNARI held the Correa government 
responsible for making concessions to multinational corporations that 
"leaves those reactionary sectors free to act in this way," they 
affirmed their opposition to  the coup attempt and put member 
organizations on alert to defend "the plurinational state."

While Correa is likely to come out of Thursday's political crisis in 
a strengthened position to continue legal reforms that have been 
centralizing power and leading to conflict with important social 
sectors, the Regional Advisory Group on Human Rights in Quito 
suggested that the crisis could be an opportunity for Correa to renew 
support for social groups that helped get him first elected in 
November 2006. In a written statement, they said, "we call upon the 
national government to set aside its arrogant attitude that is 
isolating it from the social bases. Together," they continued, "we 
can build a country with dignity, peace and sovereignty, in which 
dialogue with social sectors is a daily activity that guides our path 
toward a country distanced from extractive policies and dependence on 
a development model based on the destruction of nature."

*******************************************
Troops free Ecuador president
Soldiers storm hospital where Rafael Correa had been trapped by 
police officers protesting over plans to cut benefits.

Last Modified: 01 Oct 2010 14:15 GMT
http://english.aljazeera.net/news/americas/2010/10/20101013058598963.html


Security forces loyal to Ecuador's president have stormed a hospital 
in the capital, Quito, where Rafael Correa was trapped by police 
officers protesting over plans to cut their benefits.

Twelve hours after police surrounded the hospital on Thursday, 
soldiers moved amid heavy gunfire and Correa was rushed out of the building.

Two policemen and a soldier were killed when the army moved in. At 
least 37 others were injured as Correa supporters skirmished with 
police outside the hospital.

Addressing supporters after his release, the president said the 
uprising was not a simple police insurrection over pay-related 
grievances but an attempt to overthrow him.

"There were lots of infiltrators, dressed as civilian and we know 
where they were from,"  he shouted from the balcony of the presidential palace.

Correa said those responsible for the rebellion would be punished.

"There will be no pardon," he said, as celebrating crowds waved flags 
and cheered.

Freddy Martinez, Ecuador's police chief, who was not involved in 
Thursday's protests, stepped down after failing to control his force 
and prevent the incident, Reuters news agency reported, citing a 
police spokesman.

"Last night he told me he had presented his resignation," the police 
spokesman said.

Banks looted

Miguel Alvear, a journalist in Quito, told Al Jazeera that, despite 
uprisings from the police and some in the military, the president 
appeared to have retained full control of the country.

"He has the support of the armed forces and the attorney-general has 
already announced that he will investigate and prosecute the people 
behind this."
************************************************

Coup Attempt in Ecuador Is a Result of Sec. Clinton's Cowardice in Honduras

September 30
By Al Giordano
http://narcosphere.narconews.com/thefield/4138/coup-attempt-ecuador-result-sec-clintons-cowardice-honduras

Oh, crap. Another year, another coup in Latin America. And while 
today's attempt by police forces in Ecuador went so far as to fire 
tear gas at elected president Rafael Correa, the military brass in 
the South American country have sided with the democratic order - its 
top general is on TV right now strongly backing the elected 
government - and this one isn't likely to go as well for the 
anti-democracy forces as last year's did in Honduras.

First, because the Ecuadorean people are far more advanced in social 
and community organization than their counterparts in Honduras were 
last year. Second, because the events last year in Honduras caused 
other center-left governments in the hemisphere to prepare for what 
everybody saw would be more coup attempts against them in more countries.

Additionally, we can expect in the coming hours that the police 
leaders responsible for todays events - you don't need to understand 
Spanish to get a pretty good idea of what went down this morning by 
watching the above video - will be rounded up and brought to justice, 
as would happen in any other country, including the United States.

But, kind reader, do you know why this is even happening? Because the 
same unholy alliance of Latin American oligarchs who can't stomach 
the rising wave of democracy in their countries - from the ex-Cubans 
of Miami to the ex-Venezuelans and others who have joined them in 
recent years - along with international crime organizations seeking 
new refuges and members of extreme rightist groups in the United 
States and elsewhere, saw their scheme work in 2009 in Honduras and 
took note of how quickly, after US President Barack Obama denounced 
the Honduras coup, his Secretary of State Hillary Clinton began 
playing both sides of it.

It was this newspaper, through reporter Bill Conroy's investigations, 
that broke the story last August that the State Department-controlled 
<http://narcosphere.narconews.com/notebook/bill-conroy/2009/08/millennium-challenge-corp-poured-millions-honduras-months-leading-putsc>Millennium 
Challenge Corporation had poured extraordinary amounts of money into 
Honduras in the months leading up to the June 29, 2009 coup d'etat. 
And in <http://www.narconews.com/Issue59/article3760.html>story after 
<http://www.narconews.com/Issue59/article3764.html>story, we 
demonstrated with documented fact how Clinton's Millennium Challenge 
Corporation went so far as to violate the ban on US aid to the 
Honduran coup regime. Clinton's later endorsement of farcical 
presidential elections and her over-reaching attempts to pretend 
nothing had happened in Honduras are precisely the signals that were 
received by today's coup plotters in Ecuador when they made a run at 
toppling the democratic government there.

At present, thankfully, the coup in Ecuador seems more likely to fail 
than to succeed. And there will be hell to pay for those behind it. 
But it didn't have to get that far. That only happened because, last 
year, the US Secretary of State pulled off a kind of "silent coup" in 
US foreign policy while her commander in chief was buried with the 
urgent domestic tasks stemming off economic collapse and, as everyone 
knows, small nations get little attention almost always anyway.

This time, the White House would do well to put a much shorter leash 
on its Secretary of State, because her horrendous and unforgivable 
anti-democratic behavior regarding the Honduras coup only fueled, and 
continues to fuel, understandable speculation that if the United 
States doesn't walk its talk about opposing coups d'etat, then it 
must have been an active participant in plotting it. The mishandling 
of the Honduras situation last year did lasting damage to President 
Obama's stated hopes to turn the page in US relations with its 
closest neighbors after decades of abuse and neglect. A single 
misstep by Secretary Clinton today and in the future regarding the 
events in Ecuador, like those she repeatedly made regarding Honduras, 
now that the hemispheric coup plotters have moved from Central 
America to larger South America, will further erode the cause of 
democracy in the entire hemisphere. I don't trust her. Nobody south 
of the border does. And nor should you, Mr. President.

Update: Narco News has translated today's 
<http://narcosphere.narconews.com/notebook/al-giordano/2010/09/statement-office-ecuador-president-rafael-correa>Statement 
from the Office of President Rafael Correa.

Update II: If it holds, this will be the first time in the history of 
the hemisphere that the Armed Forces of a country stood up against a 
coup d'etat from the first moment. Now, that would be democracy at work.

Update III: The situation in Ecuador today is further complicated by 
the disillusion that the very social forces that elected President 
Correa have with his actions in office. The CONAIE (Federation of 
Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador) is the leading national 
indigenous movement with strong alliances with labor and other social 
forces) held a press conference today to say that it is neither with 
the police forces nor with President Correa. The CONAIE and its 
hundreds of thousands of participants is not only responsible for 
Correa's election, but its mobilizations caused the rapid-fire 
resignations of previous presidents of Ecuador in this century.

The situation thus also shines a light on the growing rift in the 
hemisphere between the statist left and the indigenous left and 
related autonomy and labor movements. The CONAIE is basically saying 
to Correa, "you want our support, then enact the agenda you were 
elected on." Whether one sees this as a dangerous game of 
brinkmanship or something that actually strengthens Correa's hand by 
placing him in the middle zone ideologically, it is worth seeing this 
at face value and beware of getting led astray by some of the usual 
suspect conspiracy theorists of the statist left who are predictably 
out there barking that the CONAIE is somehow an agent of imperialism, 
dropping rumors of US AID funding but never seeming to exhibit the 
hard evidence. Sigh. What Johnny-One-Notes! They wouldn't know nuance 
if it slapped them in the face. For them, you either line up 
lock-step with THE STATE (if it is "their" state) or you're a running 
dog of capitalism. That kind of Stalinist purge mentality should have 
died with the previous century.

The CONAIE's grievances happen to be very legitimate. Of course, they 
do not justify a coup d'etat, but the CONAIE is not participating in 
or supporting the coup d'etat. It is saying to Correa; we'll have 
your back, when you have ours. This, like the Armed Forces support 
for Correa, is also a historical first in the region. And the plot thickens...

Update IV: A 
<http://www.state.gov/secretary/rm/2010/09/148481.htm>boilerplate 
statement from the US State Department:

We are closely following events in Ecuador. The United States 
deplores violence and lawlessness and we express our full support for 
President Rafael Correa, and the institutions of democratic 
government in that country.

We urge all Ecuadorians to come together and to work within the 
framework of Ecuador's democratic institutions to reach a rapid and 
peaceful restoration of order.

Now let's see if they walk that talk...

Update V: 9:30 p.m. Quito: Ecuadorean military troops have just 
rescued President Correa from the police hospital where he was 
sequestered all day. Looks like it was a pretty violent battle, but 
multiple media on the scene are reporting that the president is safe 
and the Armed Forces stuck with the democratic order.






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