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.

Media:
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

9 thoughts on “Reaction to the Events in Ecuador

  • October 1, 2010 at 8:34 am
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    Lucio Gutiérrez's lawyer led the assault on Ecuador's public TV station. The cops attacked reporters and news sources. The downsized multinational corporate mainstream media were mostly not there. TeleSur was in such demand that its video signal was totally clogged and people had to rely on its text only feature, to which would-be video viewers were sent. Worldwide opposition to the coup was, as in the case with Venezuela in 2002, rallied by Internet, this time with Facebook playing an important role.

    I am still waiting for the Committee to Protect Journalists and Reporters Without Borders to say that it was a bad thing that the rebel cops and the few troops that supported them, plus Gutiérrez's folks, tried to shut down the press.

    We can expect that there will now be a major payback for the attempted coup, but it is likely to be treated without context by mainstream media and various organizations in the USA and other countries of the industrialized north, almost as if yesterday's events never happened.

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  • October 1, 2010 at 7:45 am
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    Greetings from Quito. There is little evidence that this was truly a coup attempt, although with interests behind the planning, it might have had that effect had things played out differently. This was a police protest over a new civil service law, not yet in effect, and would have attracted scarce attention if the actors were auto workers or civil servants.

    The protest was rejected by the military, the indigenous federations, peasants, workers, universities, in short, all but an opposition fringe that even this morning makes apologies for the violence, which culminated in freeing the president from the police hospital at about 9 PM, where he had spent the day. Military and special forces troops attacked the small group of police still holed up in the hospital, and took the president out in a wheel chair. (He had had full knee replacement surgery only last week.) He then went to the presidential palace and spoke to several thousand people waiting there.

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    • October 1, 2010 at 11:29 pm
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      A coup d'estat demands a change of government. No one is asking for that. Correa's paranoia (or his perversity) is trying to trnasform an ordinary public workers strike into a conspirancy. He was governing from the hospital, he closed all private media channels and ordered all to report ONLY the official version given through his TVstation . He also continue to meet with his ministers, to order a state of emergency and talk with other presidents over the phone. Only the private media were kidnapped in Ecuador yesterday.

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      • October 4, 2010 at 11:51 am
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        ordinary public workers strike? You must be delusional … attacking and sequestering a head of state, having to be rescued by the military with deaths and injuries, this is not ordinay. Without investigation, it is too early to know what was really behind this except the obvious, but to call it an ordinary workers strike is absurd.

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  • October 1, 2010 at 12:40 pm
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    I'd like to add that after the President was rescued and returned to Carondelet, the military and police continued their gun battle outside of the Hospital de la Policia for several hours. The whole neighborhood was filled with teargas, even in private homes.

    I would also challenge the use of the word "coup attempt," until there is solid evidence the police had plans to overtake the government. Unlike Gutierrez, Mahuad and Bucaram, the military support President Correa (at least most of them).

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  • October 1, 2010 at 10:24 pm
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    I am an American living in Quito. Many Ecuadorians believe that the CIA was involved. This would explain the U.S. hesitancy in its initial reaction as reported by COHA. Also the police acted with incredible boldness and impunity in attacking Correa and their other actions, as if they had nothing to lose. They acted as if they knew something was going to come next. Finally several of my sources report that flights (commercial air traffic) between the U.S and Ecuador were cancelled well before the insurrection got underway. Given the U.S. history in Ecuador ,see for example Inside the Company, it is quite credible. The protest was only rejected by the military after several hours of effective silence, and it was members of the air force that closed the airports. Can COHA investigate this, particularly the part about the flights being cancelled well ahead of the actual start of the violence? many Ecuadorians believe that these actions were only supposed to be the first step in a mounting campaign of violence. What did the police hope to accomplish ? Why weren't they worried about losing their positions and being arrested ? Their actions only make sense if they believed the government was going to be overthrown.

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    • October 4, 2010 at 11:57 am
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      Excellent obversatiobs, especially the apparent impunity of the police and the report of cancellations of US flights. I am an American living in Nicaragua and planning to visit Ecuador soon and would enjoy speaking with you, if possible, to learn more of the political,social situation in Ecuador. Lawrence, auto355760@yahoo.com

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  • October 1, 2010 at 11:33 pm
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    A coup d'estat implies a demand for a change of government. No one is asking for that. Correa's paranoia (or his perversity) is trying to transform an ordinary public workers strike into a conspirancy. He was governing from the hospital, he closed all private media channels and ordered them to report ONLY the official version given through his TVstation . He also continued to meet with his ministers, to order a state of emergency and talk with other presidents over the phone, and could have left the hospital much earlier if he had wished. Only the private media were kidnapped yesterday in Ecuador, unfortunately

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    • October 2, 2010 at 4:29 am
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      police going on strike and rioting is not an ordinary public workers strike, also my understanding is that the rioters took over the government TV station see comment one above.

      Reply

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