A coup attempt is underway against the government of President Rafael Correa. On Thursday morning, groups of police forces rebelled and took over key strategic sites in Quito, Ecuador’s capital. President Correa immediately went to the military base occupied by the police leading the protest to work out a solution to the situation. The police protesting claimed a new law passed on Wednesday regarding public officials would reduce their benefits.
Nonetheless, President Correa affirmed that his government has actually doubled police wages over the past four years. The law would not cut benefits but rather restructure them. The law was used as an excuse to justify the police protest. But other forces are behind the chaos, attempting to provoke a coup led by former president Lucio Guitierrez, who was impeached by popular revolt in Ecuador in 2005.
“This is a coup attempt led by Lucio Guitierrez”, denounced Correa on Thursday afternoon via telephone. Correa was attacked by the police forces with tear gas. "Kill me if you need to. There will be other Correa's", said the President, addressing the police rebellion. He was hospitalized shortly after at a military hospital, which has now been taking over by coup forces. As of 1pm Thursday, police forces were attempting to access his hospital room to possibly assassinate him.
Foreign Minister Ricardo Patiño called on supporters to go to the hospital to defend Correa and prevent his assassination. Military forces took over an air base in Quito to prevent air transit and took over nearby streets to prevent Correa's supporters from mobilizing towards the hospital. Other security forces took over the parliament, preventing legislators from accessing the state institution and causing severe chaos and violence. Thousands of supporters filled Quito’s streets, gathering around the presidential palace, backing Correa and rejecting the coup attempt.
At 2pm EST, the Ecuadorian government declared an emergency state. Countries throughout the region expressed support for Correa and condemned the destabilization. The Organization of American States in Washington called an emergency meeting at 2:30pm EST. ALBA nations and UNASUR are also convening.
Ecuador is a member of the Bolivarian Alliance of the Americas (ALBA) and a close ally of Venezuela. Last June, Honduras, a prior ALBA member, was victim of a coup d'etat that forced President Manuel Zelaya from power. The coup was backed by Washington. In 2002, Venezuela was also subject to a Washington-backed coup d'etat that briefly ousted President Chavez from power. He was returned to office within 48 hours after millions of Venezuelans protested and defeated the US-backed coup leaders.
Ecuador is the newest victim of destabilization in South America. USAID channels millions annually into political groups against Correa that could be behind the coup attempt.
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