Coup in Ecuador thwarted

October 1, 2010

Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa gave a nighttime speech from the balcony of the Presidential Palace as thousands of jubilant supporters celebrated his rescue from a hospital where he was held by police rebelling against the Correa's left-wing government.

Correa was rescued by security forces loyal to the government and rushed from the police hospital where he was being held, amid heavy gunfire, according to an Al-Jazeera report.

Earlier in the day, groups of police held violent demonstrations against a law that they claimed cut their benefits. Correa tried to speak to officers at a police barracks, but was physically attacked. After being overcome by tear gas, he was taken to a police hospital, where he was essentially held captive by officers who Correa said tried to break into his room, possibly to kill him.

But thousands of ordinary Ecuadorians mobilized to defend Corrrea, surrounding the hospital. Correa appeared at an upper-floor window of the building, shouting to supporters, "If they want me, here I am," and then ripping his necktie loose. Meanwhile, according to journalist Stephan Kueffner, "In front of every police station, there are tires burning, with smoke rising into the evening sky."

Eva Golinger is a Venezuelan-American attorney and writer, and author of The Chávez Code: Cracking U.S. Intervention in Venezuela. She issued regular reports on the coup in Ecuador on Twitter and on her Postcards from the Revolution Web site. Here, we print her posts from throughout the day.

2 p.m. EST: 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.

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 Gutiérrez, who was impeached by popular revolt in Ecuador in 2005.

"This is a coup attempt led by Lucio Gutiérrez," Correa announced 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 Correas," 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 1 p.m. Thursday, police forces were attempting to access his hospital room to possibly assassinate him.

Ecuador's President Rafael Correa is taken away after being overcome by tear gas
Ecuador's President Rafael Correa is taken away after being overcome by tear gas

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 2 p.m., the Ecuadorian government declared a state of emergency.

Countries throughout the region expressed support for Correa and condemned the destabilization. The Organization of American States in Washington called an emergency meeting at 2:30 p.m. 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 Chávez from power. He was returned to office within 48 hours after millions of Venezuelans protested and defeated the U.S.-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.

4 p.m. EST: A third coup d'etat is underway against a nation member of the Bolivarian Alliance of the Americas (ALBA), a Latin American bloc of nations that opposes U.S. hegemony in the region and has created new mechanisms for trade and integration based on principles of solidarity and independence from imperial powers.

In 2002, a coup d'etat by opposition forces backed by Washington briefly ousted Hugo Chávez from power in Venezuela. The coup was defeated by the people of Venezuela during a popular uprising rejecting the attempt to destroy democracy. Chávez returned to power two days later.

Since then, Venezuela has suffered numerous destabilization attempts, economic sabotages, psychological warfare--both nationally and internationally--electoral intervention, assassination attempts against President Chávez and a vicious international campaign to portray Venezuela as a dictatorship. This past weekend, opposition forces, funded and supported by U.S. agencies, regained key seats in the nation's legislature, a platform from which they can intensify their efforts to provoke regime change.

In June 2009, Honduran President Manuel Zelaya was overthrown in a coup d'etat backed by the Obama administration and promoted by military and right-wing forces in Honduras. Since then, Honduras has never recovered its democracy. Zelaya remains in exile.

Now, Ecuador is victim of a coup against President Rafael Correa, an outspoken, solid revolutionary who ousted the U.S. military base from his nation last year and has taken a firm stance against the U.S. capitalist economic model imposed in his nation years ago. Security forces have risen up against his government, backed by political organizations funded by USAID and the National Endowment for Democracy.

An emergency meeting has been convened by ALBA and UNASUR nations in Argentina late Thursday night. President Correa's life was in danger Thursday, as he remained sequestered by coup forces.

Another coup against ALBA attempts to impede Latin American liberation and integration, but the people remain defiant, with dignity.

10:15 p.m. EST: President Correa was just rescued by special forces from the hands of coup leaders and now speaks from the Presidential Palace balcony before crowds of supporters.

Coup forces have been thwarted for now, but their plans remain. Today was a day of great fear and concern, but the people rose up, like in Venezuela 2002, and rescued their democracy and president.

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