Posted by: Jena Davison | October 1, 2010

Attempted Coup in Ecuador

Fire in Old Town, Quito During Police Riots 9/30/2010; photo by Rachel Tavel (check out her blog: travelswithtavel.com)

Coinciding with my two-week countdown to going back to Quito yesterday(for those of you who I didn’t tell, I will be heading back there for a year on Oct. 14 to work as a Staff Writer/Editor for V!VA Travel Guides–eek!), Ecuador was all over the headlines.

To summarize this instance of political instability (to the best of my understanding) in the country I am about to call home again:

-President Rafael Correa passed legislation recently (which has yet to take effect) decreasing benefits and slowing down salary increases for the police force in Ecuador.

-When Correa went to approach the enraged police force in a civilized manner, he was attacked with tear gas and punches, landing him in the hospital.

-Riots, chaos and street fires ensued, leading to military control of the government. Mariscal Sucre International Airport was shut down and highways going in and out of Quito were roadblocked. Schools and businesses were shut down and people were advised to go home for safety reasons. Some looting was reported.

-Both the people of Ecuador and the Ecuadorean military appear in strong support of Correa, not the police force.

-Correa was essentially held hostage in his hospital room by the police for over 10 hours yesterday afternoon, until military troops had a shootout with the police and rescued the president.

-Once released, the president made a powerful speech at the Presidential Palace denouncing the actions of the police force and assuring there would be consequences for its actions.

-Stability has been slowly re-established since his release.

-This has been considered a “coup” attempt to overthrow the government and oust Correa, and it appears as if most of the international community is in support of Correa and Ecuador’s democratic practices, including the United States. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said: “The United States deplores violence and lawlessness and we express our full support for President Rafael Correa, and for the institutions of democratic government in that country.”

Here are a few updates on the situation from some different news sources:

http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=6917959n

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/02/world/americas/02ecuador.html?hp

http://www.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/americas/10/01/ecuador.unrest/index.html

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-11451470

En espanol: http://www.elcomercio.com/web/noticias/Home.html

*I wanted to also take a moment to express what an interesting position I had in all of this. I was not in Quito, of course, but I have many friends who still live there and were able to give me a true perspective on the situation. If I had just seen the images in the media, I would have thought the situation was a lot worse, a lot more violent and chaotic, but talking to them made me realize just how much the media can shape our opinions in certain aspects. My friends there who were witnessing everything firsthand told me it was “oddly calm” there “like feriado (holiday),” that people were drinking in the plaza because everyone was off work, that they saw children playing soccer in parks on the way home from work. Of course, they too, saw the street fires and heard the gunfire, but they were all confident it would all blow over quickly.

I will be back in Quito in two weeks and I hope Correa is able to restore peace and order to the country of Ecuador before then. I will continue to post new developments on the situation as they arise, as well. Feel free to comment on anything here; your reactions and opinions are always welcomed : ).

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