UPDATE October 1, 12.30 AEST: Troops loyal to Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa have freed him from the military hospital where he was previously held hostage by right-wing coup police. He is now addressing a large number of triumphant supporters gathered at the Plaza of Independence in Quito who are chanting: "El pueblo unido jamás será vencido!". See livestreamed coverage by Telesur below.
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. [See photo below, published by Xinhua of Correa supporters taking to the streets.]
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.
Source: Postcard from the Revolution.
Sydney: Emergency protest against the coup in Ecuador
Friday October 1, 4.30pm
Outside Ecuadorian Consulate
30 Clarence St
Sydney (near Wynyard Station)
More information Federico Fuentes 0412556527 or Victor Hugo 0425 324 624 or Lisa 0413 031 108. Called by the Latin America Social Forum.
Call the US Embassy in Canberra to tell the State Department and the White House to make a statement that the US will cut off all military, police and development aid to Ecuador if the coup is carried to completion.
Call Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd on 02 6277 7500 or email him at Kevin.Rudd.MP@aph.gov.au to call on the Australian government to denounce the coup, and to call on the US government and the United Nations Security Council to do the same.
This coup in Ecuador, the second ALBA country now to suffer a coup, is the direct result of the US government support for the June 28, 2010, coup in Honduras. Until now the Australian government has followed US policy on Honduras. We cannot allow our government to again support anti-democratic forces in Latin America.
Contact US Ambassador to Australia, Mr Jeffrey Bleich on 02 6214 5600 email@example.com