Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa “returned safely to the presidential palace… after spending hours held by police inside a hospital room outside Quito,” according to CNN. While attempting to talk with rioting police demanding that a law be revoked that they believed would cut their salaries, Correa had tear gas lobbed at him and had been taken to the hospital. Later he was rescued by soldiers and returned to the palace. Correa characterized the events as an attempted coup. He stated, “I leave as president of a dignified nation, or I leave as a cadaver.”
The Organization of American States, meeting in an emergency session September 30, passed a resolution expressing “repudiation of any attempt to alter the democratic institutional system” in Ecuador, and also its “firm” support for the constitutional government of President Rafael Correa. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton asserted that, “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.”
A left-leaning economist, Correa was attempting to pass austerity measures that affected police salaries. “I still do not see a high risk of him being overthrown,” said Alexandra Vela, analyst with Quito-based political think tank Cordes told Reuters. “I don’t see Correa falling because other public sector employees have not joined these police and military… Correa still has significant popular support,” she said.
For background and updates on this rapidly changing situation, check our Just the Facts blog. Since a coup in Honduras toppled the elected government of Manuel Zelaya in June 2009, there has been concern that coup attempts could spread to other Latin American nations. A firm, united response from the United States, Latin America and the international community standing behind the democratically elected government of Ecuador is essential.
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