top of page

Ecuador unrest continues; state of emergency extended

The war of words between Ecuador’s current government and disgruntled police continues, with President Rafael Correa extending the state of emergency at least until the end of the week. The ordeal, which captured headlines following the President’s assault and capture by disgruntled police, began after Correa angered police by passing a new law that would take away police bonuses and reduce their compensation.  Upset with the changes, police, and some soldiers, took to the streets of Quito, closing off access to highways and shutting down airports.

Government officials are calling the altercation an attempted coup, pointing to attempts to assassinate the President.  Correa, himself, blamed his political opponents for misleading the public about the new law.  Others note that the elements of a coup were not present.  According to Roberto Izurieta, a CNN analyst, “here was no political movement or a call for the president to leave office.  There was no intent to put the presidency in the power of another person.  What occurred was an uprising from part of the police.”  Furthermore, opponents claim that Correa is inciting crowds and perpetuating the divide amongst the population.  Following his rescue from the hospital, Correa defiantly shouted to a crowd from an upper floor window “if you want to kill me, kill me, here I am.”  Gilmar Gutierrez, a current congressman, accused Correa of staging the event “to hide the extreme corruption and to hide the poverty, hunger and unemployment that have risen to an alarming level,”

Noting the continuing violence, the government declared a state of emergency until Friday and placed the military in charge of the President and congress’ security.  The incident is not the first instance of unrest in Ecuador. The country’s short experience with democracy has resulted in eight different presidents since 1996 and various skirmishes of political unrest.  Correa’s government is attempting to quell the protest by claiming such acts place democracy in danger and the police are placing the population at risk. Still, Correa has threatened to dissolve the legislature over this dispute.

The international community has rallied in favor of Correa.  Despite Peru and Colombia closing their border, multiple other Latin American nations have sent messages of support to Correa, including Mexico, Bolivia, Cuba and Venezuela. Both the UN and the US have reiterated their desire to see Ecuador’s democracy re-stabilize. Both fear what would happen if the Latin American country deteriorated into a police state.  Obama called Correa earlier this week, pledging his support and reiterating his pro-democratic institutions stance.  Obama hoped that with the backing of the international community, Correa will continue to run the country with democratic ideals and not resort to dissolving the legislature.

For videos click here


bottom of page