[News] Ecuador declares state of emergency - President Correa charges opposition of staging a coup.

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Thu Sep 30 17:35:00 EDT 2010

Ecuador declared state of emergency amid unrest that led to president 
Correa to accuse opposition of staging a coup.

Last Modified: 30 Sep 2010 19:51 GMT


The Ecuadorian government declared a state of emergency on Thursday 
after rebellious police angered by a law that cuts their benefits 
plunged this small South American nation into chaos, roughing up the 
president, shutting down airports and blocking highways in a nationwide strike.

President Rafael Correa denounced what he called "a coup attempt" as 
he was hospitalised due to the effects of tear gas used against him 
by angry police officers.

The state of siege puts the military in charge of public order, 
suspending civil liberties and allowing soldiers to carry out 
searches without a warrant.

Witnesses said there was looting in Quito and in the city of 
Guayaquil, and that many workers and school students were being sent home.

Elsewhere in Quito, uniformed police burned tires in protest at a 
proposal to cut their bonuses.

The Opec-member country of 14 million people has a long history of 
political instability. Street protests toppled three presidents 
during economic turmoil in the decade before Correa took power.

Members of Correa's own left-wing party are blocking legislative 
proposals aimed at cutting state costs, prompting him to mull 
disbanding Congress, a move that would let him rule by decree until 
new elections, one of his ministers said.

'Not a popular mobilisation'

Ernesto Gonzalez, head of the armed forces, said that troops remained 
loyal to Correa. "We are in a state of law. We are loyal to the 
maximum authority, which is the president," he told reporters.

Ricardo Patino, the foreign minister played down the severity of the 
protests. "This is not a popular mobilisation, it is not a popular 
uprising, it is an uprising by the police who are ill-informed," he 
told TV network Telesur.

Diego Borja, the central bank chief, called for calm and urged 
Ecuadoreans not to withdraw money from banks.

Ecuador's two-year-old constitution allows the president to declare a 
political impasse that could dissolve Congress until a new 
presidential and parliamentary elections can be held.

The measure would, however, have to be approved by the Constitutional 
Court to take effect.

"This a scenario that nobody would want, but it is a possibility when 
the conditions for change do not exist," Doris Solis, the policy 
minister, said after meeting Correa and other senior officials late 
on Wednesday.

"A decision still has not been made," she told reporters.

"Lawmakers in our coalition have the obligation to be coherent with 
our project for change."

Political in-fighting

More than half of the 124-member Congress are officially allied with 
Correa, but the president has blasted lawmakers from his own Country 
Alliance party for not going along with his proposals for shrinking 
the country's bureaucracy.

Police in the cities of Quito and Guayaquil protested at their 
headquarters. Officers in Guayaquil blocked some roads leading to the 
coastal city, Ecuador's most populous.

"Respect our rights," uniformed officers shouted.

Correa, a US trained economist, was first elected in 2006 promising a 
"citizens' revolution" aimed at increasing state control of Ecuador's 
natural resources and fighting what he calls the country's corrupt elite.

His government alienated international capital markets when it 
defaulted on $3.2 billion in global bonds two years ago.

Correa, an ally of Hugo Chavez, Venezuela's president, described the 
debt as "illegitimate."

Cash has been tight since then as the country relies on multilateral 
loans and bilateral lending to meet its international financing obligations.

Once in power, Correa backed the rewriting of the constitution to 
tilt the balance of power toward the executive.

He easily won re-election under the new constitution in 2009, and he 
is allowed to stand again in 2013.

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