Thursday, September 30, 2010

Trouble in Ecuador

New austerity laws have left Ecuador rocking with an uprising of the police and army protesting at the withdrawal of their benefits.

Around 150 members of the air force stormed the main airport, other soldiers and police officers set light to tires and began looting while others still confronted the President in a tense stand off at the regimental barracks.

The Guardian reports the President said during the confrontation ""I'm not taking one step back. Gentleman, if you want to kill the president, here he is, kill him if you have the guts." The rebel officers responded with shouts, stones and teargas canisters, prompting Correa's bodyguards to spirit him from the scene."

"The protests were triggered by a law passed by congress yesterday on Wednesday that would end the practice of giving medals and bonuses with each promotion. It would also extend from five to seven years the usual period required for promotions."

The FT reports that later President Correa, who was trapped in a hospital, said “It is a coup attempt led by the opposition and certain sections of the armed forces and police. Whatever happens to me I want to express my love for my family and my homeland.”

They report that "Civil society groups joined the government in vowing to free Mr Correa, before marching on the hospital where he was cornered by protesting police officers."

Some in the government are saying that the majority of the army and police are loyal and a coup is not about to take place, others are beginning to mobilise to prevent a coup. It's certainly true that the President has been attacked and hundreds of armed forces personnel are on the move.

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