Thursday, September 30, 2010

Ecuador's Correa targeted in supposed coup attempt (Updated)

Update (11:30pm):
We end today's coverage of the tension in Ecuador with the following video of a portion of Correa's speech tonight. (Skip to the 1:30 mark to hear Correa address his followers in Quito):

Update (11:05 pm):
In an emotional speech from the balcony of the presidential palace Correa bemoaned the "unnecessary spilling of blood" during a very turbulent Thursday. He thanked those police and military who were loyal to him as well as the support from leaders throughout the Americas.

Correa accused opposition forces of "infiltrating the police" and said that the officers how protested against him where taken advantage of by those who want to defeat them such as followers of former president Lucio Gutierrez. He vowed that those responsible for Thursday's "insurrection" will not be exempt from punishment for their actions.

"We must use all of our energy, all of our ensure that the citizens' revolution shall never be stopped," concluded Correa at the end of his address.

Update (10:35 pm):
President Correa left the hospital in one of two vehicles guarded by special operations troops. Ecuavisa said that he is one his way to the presidential palace and will later give a televised speech.

The following video shows some of the battle between protesting police and military loyal to Correa that took place minutes ago:

Update (10:15pm):
According to Ecuador's El Universo the gunfight occurred as the military attempted to take control of the Quito police hospital with the aim of getting Correa safely out of the clinic.

Footage from Ecuavisa International showed an SUV go inside one of the entrances before departing for an as yet unknown destination. It is also unknown if Correa was in that vehicle or if the military has gained complete control of the hospital area.

Update (10:10pm):
Footage from Ecuadorian television (Ecuavisa International) is showing an intense gunfire occurring in the environs of the Quito hospital where President Correa has been staying. It is rumored that protesting police and troops loyal to the president are battling.

More details to come momentarily.

Update (9:00pm):
According to the government at least one person is dead as a result of today's incidents. "We cannot accept these acts of violence," said internal security minister Miguel Carvajal earlier tonight.

Update (8:30pm):
A group of demonstrators tried to take over the studios of Ecuador TV earlier tonight. "They are attacking our comrades in the master control room" said a presenter live on the air who later interviewed one of the protesters. The "young university student" claimed that the protest was done "by a portion of the population... (who) disagrees with his (President Correa's) actions."

Previously it was reported that the protesters attempted to topple a TV antenna in Quito several hours after the state of siege was declared. (All TV stations were obligated to air the signal from public channel Ecuador TV.) The antenna, located on Pichincha hill, also controls the signals for the only other station on the air: government-run Gama TV.

Update (7:45pm):
Is President Correa, who remains in hospital after being injured this afternoon, being held there against his will? Police chief Freddy Martínez has denied that rumor.

According to the local press, Correa met with representatives from the police who demonstrated against the government today. A spokesman claimed that Correa decided to keep a system of bonuses for promoted officers. (Yesterday Correa reportedly decreed to scrap that system; a decision that caused was not well received by some cops and soldiers).

Update (6:45pm):
The Organization of American States (OAS) unanimously approved a declaration condemning "any attempt to modify the democratic institutions" in Ecuador. OAS representatives from around the region expressed their support for President Correa during the extraordinary session of the permanent council this afternoon.

The U.S. envoy to the OAS, Carmen Lomellin, backed Correa and added her hope that the resolution could lead to a "respectful dialogue between all parties involved." Lomellin's words where echoed in a statement by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who urged "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."

Outside of the Americas, the foriegn policy chief of the E.U. was quoted as saying that she "express my full support to Ecuador's democratically elected institutions." A spokesman for U.N. secretary general Ban Ki-moon mentioned that he was " deeply concerned about developments today in Ecuador, including reported acts of insubordination by some members of the police and military."

Update (3:45pm):
Governments from around the Americas have given their support to the Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa. One of the most notable reactions came from Peruvian President Alan Garcia who ordered the closing of his country's border with Ecuador. Garcia denounced the "gross intervention of the gorillas that still exist in the Americas" in reference to what Ecuadorian authorities claimed to have been an attempted coup against Correa.

Update (3:00pm):
The Ecuadorian government has just declared a "state of exception" for one week, which grants the armed forces control of all domestic security. Such a step was needed "once sectors of the police irresponsibly abandoned their duties," said Security Minister Miguel Carvajal.

Original Post:
Tensions are rapidly rising in Ecuador as a result of protests against the government.

On Wednesday President Rafael Correa decreed that the government would halt the practice of granting police and military with bonuses every time they receive a promotion. Hundreds of protesting officers and troops then reportedly cut off highway access to the capital city of Quito and forced the shutdown of the capital's Mariscal Sucre airport. Sporadic looting was also reported in several cities and Quito's main army barracks was supposedly overrun by the demonstrators.

As can be seen in the video below, Correa appealed for calm while facing heckling from some demonstrators. He was supposedly hit by a bottle and then transferred to a hospital after he defiantly said that “if they want to kill me, go ahead”:

The situation has exacerbated political tensions with Correa telling Ecuadorian public radio that opposition forces are behind the protests with the intent of overthrowing him. In the meantime, army chief General Ernesto Gonzalez said that the armed forces are loyal to Correa and the government.

Online Sources- CNN, AP, BBC News, Bloomberg, YouTube, Reuters


Anonymous said...

from de Clermont - President Correa is milking this for all it may be worth to him, lamenting "if they want to kill me ...". Stand up and be a man, Correa. You are the president, behave like one.

Senor Pescado said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
j_major said...

lm writing from Ecuador.
lm very sad: this should have never happened. Have you felt helplessly unsecure: l mean there was no policemen in the whole city (as well as in the entire country). l saw people attacking on an old man, l saw people stealing from other people in the middle of the day in a big avenue!
Anyway, now some people against the government have blamed the President and have denied the kidnapping.
Please, listen to the recordings of the 911 central, where policemen call other policemen to kill the president, to force him to sign a surrender (and pardon for the strikers), and even call them to shoot on the military (audio in spanish)