Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa has survived what is being described as an attempted coup by hundreds of armed police officers. The police took control of several cities on Thursday, shutting down roads and airports, and besieged Correa for several hours in a hospital before the military was able to rescue him. The violence began with police protesting an austerity measure by Correa that would cut the salaries of police workers. The country appears to have returned to stability. Here's what this means for the South American nation.
- Ecuador's Tenuous Battle for Stability The Economist writes, "For one of Latin America’s most politically tumultuous countries, Ecuador has been surprisingly stable since Rafael Correa became its president in early 2007. Today, however, that relative calm was shattered. ... Even if Mr Correa is able to placate the police, the overall political situation may continue to deteriorate. Some of the president's other line-item vetoes were overruled in Congress, leading him to threaten legislators with dissolving the congress. That would subject both lawmakers and Mr Correa himself to an early recall election. But in the period before the vote, the populist, leftist president would be able to rule by decree. Mr Correa is Ecuador's first democratically elected president since 1996 that has not been toppled by street protests—so far."
- Correa Pledges Revenge on Police The BBC's Will Grant reports, "Mr Correa said there would be 'a deep cleansing of the national police', and that he would 'not forgive nor forget' what had happened.The commander of Ecuador's police force has since resigned, a police spokesman said on Friday. South American heads of state held an emergency meeting in Argentina and called for those behind the revolt to be tried and punished."
- Blaming the U.S.? The Associated Press' Gonzalo Solano and Tatiana Coba write, "Other South American presidents quickly showed their support for Correa, rushing to a meeting in Buenos Aires early Friday and condemning what they called a coup attempt and kidnapping of Correa. The U.S. also warned those who threaten Ecuador's democracy that Correa has full U.S. support. Both Hugo Chavez of Venezuela and Evo Morales of Bolivia alleged Friday that the United States was somehow behind the police rebellion, despite forceful U.S. declarations otherwise."
- The Underlying Economic Battle Voice of America's Greg Flakus explains, "Government spending in recent years has overtaken revenue. President Correa, an ally of Venezuela's leftist President Hugo Chavez, led what he called a 'citizen's revolution' to power in the 2006 presidential election and began asserting state control over natural resources. In July, he began a move to renegotiate contracts with foreign oil companies operating under contracts in Ecuador in an effort to increase revenue for the government. Correa has tried to increase support for social programs with oil tax revenue."
- Military Remains Loyal Al Jazeera reports, "General Ernesto Gonzalez, the army chief, has demanded that the renegade officers end their uprising and said those involved 'would have their rights respected' if they turned themselves in. He said that the military remained loyal to Correa. 'We are in a state of law. We are loyal to the maximum authority, which is the president,' he told reporters."