Reaction to the Events in Ecuador

COHA is closely monitoring the worrisome developments unfolding in Ecuador. There have been violent protests by police and elements of the military, who are expressing discontent over the recent austerity measures outlined by President Rafael Correa. The president himself, who remains in the Police Hospital surrounded by the police opposition and supporters just north of the capital Quito, has described these events as a “coup attempt” against him.

The Organization of American States (OAS) convened an emergency meeting at 2:30 Eastern Standard Time in Washington, D.C., to consider the situation. Secretary General of the OAS, Jose Miguel Insulza, spoke with Correa earlier today, and expressed the OAS’ full support for President Correa. The OAS has already issued as resolution reaffirming its support for “the constitutional government of President Rafael Correa in his duty to preserve the institutional and democratic order, as well as the rule of law.” In addition to the OAS, several individual states have already come out with definitive statements in support of Correa, including Spain, France, and 10 Latin American nations.

Initial statements from the U.S. Department of State, meanwhile, have been comparatively noncommittal. Mark Weisbrot, Co-Director of the Center For Economic and Policy Research, has called upon President Obama to state unequivocally that the United States will not recognize any government other than the democratically elected government of President Rafael Correa. However, while other countries initially condemned the undemocratic actions against Correa, a spokesman for the U.S. Department of State merely said that the Obama administration was “closely monitoring” the situation. Later, Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Arturo Valenzuela did express support for Correa’s democratically elected government, but Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has failed to make a definitive statement on Ecuador—and the clock is ticking.

The United States’ ill-advised hesitation is particularly damaging to the democratic legitimacy of U.S. policy in light of its pitiful performance with respect to Honduras last year, when it frustrated the democratic process by settling for an unsatisfactory compromise that did not return the ousted Zelaya to power. While U.S. indecisiveness in Honduras set a terrible precedent, a similar failure to respond decisively in Ecuador could result in far greater repercussions throughout the region, especially given Ecuador’s prominent role in ALBA and UNASUR.

Time is running out for U.S. to speak out on this issue. The Council on Hemispheric Affairs calls upon President Obama and the U.S. Department of State to make an immediate and unequivocal statement supporting President Correa’s democratic mandate in Ecuador and condemning today’s unconstitutional actions against him.

Update as of 7:45 EST

Sec. of State Clinton has since come out with this official statement on Ecuador:

“We are closely following events in Ecuador. 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. We urge 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.”

The official statement can be found here.

To contact COHA call our office at (202) 223-4975. Outside of office hours, you may contact any of the following COHA representatives:

Andres Ochoa (in Quito): 01159398248240

Dr. John Green: (434) 390-7355