Protesting police throw Ecuador into chaos
Hundreds of police angry over a law that would cut their benefits plunged this small South American nation into chaos Thursday, roughing up and tear-gassing the president, shutting down airports and blocking highways in a nationwide strike.
At least one person was killed and six injured in clashes between police and supporters of President Rafael Correa, the security minister said.
Incensed officers shoved Correa around earlier, pelted him with water and doused him in tear gas when he tried to speak at a police barracks in the capital.
Hours after Correa was roughed up, surrounded by rebel cops in a police hospital, the president declared himself "practically captive."
Correa, 47, was hospitalized after being nearly asphyxiated by the tear gas.
Supporters of Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa protest against rebellious police outside the hospital where Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa is located in Quito, Ecuador, Thursday Sept. 30, 2010.
(AP Photo/Patricio Realpe)
The government declared a state of siege, putting the military in charge of public order, suspending civil liberties and allowing soldiers to carry out searches without a warrant.
The insurgent police took over police barracks in Quito, Guayaquil and other cities. Some set up roadblocks of burning tires, cutting off highway access to the capital.
Schools shut down in Quito and many businesses closed early due to the absence of police protection that left citizens and businesses vulnerable.
Looting was reported in the capital — where at least two banks were sacked — and in the coastal city of Guayaquil. That city’s main newspaper, El Universo, reported attacks on supermarkets and robberies due to the absence of police.
Hundreds of Correa supporters gathered outside the National Assembly, which was seized by striking police, while Interior Minister Gustavo Jahlk met with representatives of the rebellious police.
The armed forces commander, Gen. Ernesto Gonzalez, declared the military’s loyalty to Correa at a news conference. He called for "a re-establishment of dialogue, which is the only way Ecuadoreans can resolve our differences."
But he also called for the law that provoked the unrest to be "reviewed or not placed into effect so public servants, soldiers and police don’t see their rights affected."
The law, which Congress approved on Wednesday, must be published before it takes effect and that has not happened.
Peru and Colombia closed their countries’ borders with Ecuador in solidarity with Correa. Along with the rest of the region’s leaders and the United States, they expressed firm support for Correa. Bolivia’s leftist president, Evo Morales, summoned South America’s presidents to an emergency meeting Thursday night in Buenos Aires of the continent’s fledgling UNASUR defense union.
This poor Andean nation of 14 million had a history of political instability before Correa, cycling through eight presidents in a decade before the leftist U.S.-trained economist first won election in December 2006. Three of them were driven from office by street protests.
In April 2009, after voters approved a new constitution he championed, Correa became Ecuador’s first president to win election without a runoff. That success has led him at times to act with overconfidence, even arrogance.
Confronting the protesters Thursday morning, Correa was agitated and unyielding.
"If you want to kill the president, here he is! Kill me!" he told them before limping away with the aid of a cane as an aide fitted a gas mask over his face. Correa’s right knee, with which he has had recurring problems, was operated on last week.
Some 800 police officers in Quito joined the protest, which appeared to have arisen spontaneously. The number of participants outside the capital was unclear. Ecuador has 40,000 police officers.
Correa called the unrest "an attempted coup" spurred by his opponents in remarks to reporters at the police hospital, where he at one point was hooked to an intravenous drip. "They’re practically holding the president captive," he said.
The insurgent police surrounding the hospital fought with Correa supporters, and Miguel Carvajal, the security minister, told reporters that one person was killed and six injured. He provided no details.
Correa’s leftist ally, Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez, claimed after speaking to Correa that the Ecuadorean leader was "in danger of being killed" by the encircling police.
Ecuador’s foreign minister, Ricardo Patino, said at one point that insurgents were trying to enter the hospital through the roof.
"They are trying to oust President Correa," Chavez said via Twitter.
That claim was echoed by Cuba while the Organization of American States’ secretary-general, Miguel Insulza, called the situation "a coup d’etat in the making."
The United States didn’t go that far.
"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," U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said in a statement.
Ecuador’s ambassador to the OAS, Maria Isabel Salvador, alleged involvement by "opposition politicians with military backgrounds and police ties."
Read the full article at: news.yahoo.com
Why has Colombia invaded Ecuador, and why is Venezuela joining the fight?
Latest News from our Front Page
CDC official called Obama 'Marxist,' 'amateur' over border surge...
Following the influx of illegal immigrant minors from Central America, an official at the federal agency charged with protecting public health describes Barack Obama as "the worst pres we have ever had," an â€œamateur" and "Marxist," according to internal emails obtained by Judicial Watch.
JW got the records as part of an investigation into the Center for Disease Controlâ€™s (CDC) activation ...
Obama Administration Likely to Block New Redskins Stadium
The Obama administration will likely block Washington, D.C., authorities from building a new stadium for the NFLâ€™s Washington Redskins because of objections to the teamâ€™s name.
The National Park Service (NPS) owns the land under the 54-year-old Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium, a venue two miles east of the Capitol that hosted the Redskins from 1961 to 1996. Some city leaders ...
Safe spaces, white tears and getting kicked out of a women's group - by two men
Lately I've been kicked out of a couple of groups I belong to, for daring to question received wisdom or refusing to go along with the rules of identity politics.
For instance, I was thrown out my university women's group -- by two men! -- for questioning an article on Jezebel about "cultural appropriation."
They explained that the group was supposed to ...
Ghost rider in the sky: Scientists use lasers to project movie onto clouds
A green ghost rider appeared in the sky over the British city of Nottingham when scientists started testing a newly developed projecting device which allows the beaming of moving images directly onto clouds for the first time ever.
The image of a galloping horse rider was projected onto the clouds from a distance of 50 meters by a special laser-based projection ...
Chinaâ€™s stock market is crashing, and the Chinese are trying to do the exact same thing America did in 1929
â€˜While European attention is focused on Greece, China is having a serious market meltdown.
After exploding earlier in the year because of deregulation, Chinaâ€™s benchmark Shanghai Composite has collapsed a crazy 29% since the highs of early June. Chinaâ€™s other stock markets have had similarly steep falls.
Bloomberg notes that the crisis is closely mirroring the 1929 Wall Street crash, which led ...
|More News » |