(Updated Oct. 2) Coup attempt in Ecuador defeated; Chavez led condemnation; Correa: 'I'm not going to give up'

October 1, 2010 -- Democracy Now! report. Visit HERE for full transcript.

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UPDATED September 30, 10pm (Ecuador time): Troops loyal to Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa have freed him from the military hospital where he was previously held hostage by right-wing coup police. He is now addressing a large number of triumphant supporters gathered at the Plaza of Independence in Quito who are chanting: "El pueblo unido jamás... será vencido!"

Triumphant Correa addresses the nation

Quito, September 30 -- Prensa Latina --  After being rescued by elite soldiers from the Metropolitan Police Hospital, where he had been sequestered, Ecuador's President Rafael Correa triumphantly addressed the nation from the balcony of the Presidential Palace.

A cheering crowd of thousands of people gathered in front of the palace in downtown Quito to express their support for the Ecuadorian leader, who blamed the aborted coup on the evil machinations of "known conspirators".

Amid chants of "Lucio murderer", Correa charged opponent and former president Lucio Gutierrez with plotting the coup and inciting part of the police to insubordination.

Gutierrez is the head of the opposing conservative Patriotic Society Party that has been held responsible for being behind the plot and the coup attempt.

The events began in the morning with hundreds of police officers revolting and carrying out disorderly actions in Quito and other cities under the pretext of protesting a law, passed September 29, that cuts benefits and eliminate perks for public servants.

He was sequestered at Quito's police hospital where he was taken for treatment after he twisted the leg which he had recently undergone surgery. He injured the leg when he was attacked with tear gas after attempting to talk to the insubordinate police officers at their main headquarters in the capital.

"We came this morning, as our custom is, to talk and explain what we wanted to do, because no one has supported the police nor has raised their salaries so much as this government", he told the crowd.  "And after seeing the reaction of a group of them, I felt betrayed."

He added that those responsible for the coup attempt will be punished.

After thanking all of his supporters and the soldiers for their loyalty and courage in the rescue operation, Correa said he had just lived through the saddest day of his government by seeing how Ecuadorian brothers had uselessly spelt their blood.

He also thanked "profoundly" the thousands of Ecuadorians who peacefully came unarmed to rescue him from the clinic, the presidential body guards and the ministers who were with him, "all willing to die if it was necessary".

President Correa also thanked the many countries and organisations that had conveyed their support for him and his government.

Before closing his emotional speech, he called on the people to unite to beat the conspirators and push ahead the citizens' revolution.

Coup underway in Ecuador

By Eva Golinger, Caracas

September 30, 2010 -- Postcard from the Revolution from via Green Left Weekly -- A coup attempt is underway against the government of President Rafael Correa. On Thursday, September 30, 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 September 29 regarding public officials would reduce their benefits.

Nonetheless, 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 Guitierrez, who was impeached by popular revolt in Ecuador in 2005.

“This is a coup attempt led by Lucio Guitierrez”, denounced Correa on September 30 afternoon via telephone. Correa was attacked by the police forces with tear gas. "Kill me if you need to. There will be other Correa's", said the president, addressing the police rebellion. He was hospitalised shortly after at a military hospital, which has now been taking over by coup forces. As of 1pm September 30, police forces were attempting to access his hospital room to possibly assassinate him.

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 mobilising 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 2pm, the Ecuadorian government declared an emergency state.

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

Take action

Australia

Sydney -- emergency protest against the coup in Ecuador

Friday October 1, 4.30pm, outside Ecuadorian consulate, 30 Clarence St, Sydney (near Wynyard station). More information Federico Fuentes 0412556527, Victor Hugo 0425 324 624 or Lisa 0413 031 108. Called by the Latin America Social Forum.

Call the US embassy in Canberra to tell the State Department and the White House to make a statement that the US will cut off all military, police and development aid to Ecuador if the coup is carried to completion.

Call Australia's Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd on 02 6277 7500 or email him at Kevin.Rudd.MP@aph.gov.au to call on the Australian government to denounce the coup, and to call on the US government and the United Nations Security Council to do the same.

United States

Contact Senators and members of the House of Representatives:
http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm
https://writerep.house.gov/writerep/welcome.shtml

Contact the State Department:
Fax: 202-647-0834, voice: 202 647-4000 or email: Maria Otero, Under Secretary for Democracy and Global Affairs, c/o Laura Pena  PenaL@state.gov

Dr Arturo Valenzuela, Assist. Sec. of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs: ValenzuelaAA@state.gov and WHAAsstSecty@State.gov ; ambassador Craig Kelly, Principal Deputy Asst./ Secretary, Western Office of Hemisphere Affairs: KellyC@state.gov (fax: 202-647-0834).

Contact the White House:
http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact and White House Comment Line 202-456-1414.

 


Real News Network report, October 1, 2010, with Gregory Wilpert, from Venezuelanalysis.com

Chavez condemns attempted coup in Ecuador

By Tamara Pearson, Merida

September 30, 2010 -- Venezuelanalysis.com via Green Left Weekly -- As a coup attempt takes place in Ecuador, Venezuela and regional organisations of Latin America have come out in solidarity with Ecuador, and Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez called on the people and military of Ecuador to defend President Rafael Correa and their country’s democracy.

Ecuador is a close ally of Venezuela, and a fellow member of the progressive Bolivarian Alliance of the People of Our America (ALBA).

Early this afternoon the Venezuela's foreign ministry released an official statement condemning the coup attempt and expressing its solidarity with President Rafael Correa and the Ecuadoran people.

The statement said, “A few minutes ago President Hugo Chavez Frias talked with President Rafael Correa, who is being held in the National Police hospital in Quito. President Correa confirmed that what is taking place is a coup attempt, given the insubordination by a section of the National Police towards the authorities and the law.

“Commander Hugo Chavez expressed his support for the constitutional president of our sister, the Republic of Ecuador, and condemned, in the name of the Venezuelan people and the Bolivarian Alliance of the People of Our America (ALBA), this attack against the constitution and the people of Ecuador.

“The government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela expresses its confidence that President Rafael Correa and the Ecuadoran people will overturn this coup attempt and, together with the people of Latin America and the Caribbean, we will be alert and accompanying them with solidarity in this historic moment.”

Correa: 'I'm not going to give up'

Later this afternoon, Chavez talked on the telephone with Telesur, commenting on the coup attempt as he prepared to travel to Argentina to meet with other presidents of UNASUR and discuss the situation in Ecuador.

“According to what our ambassador [in Ecuador] has reported, the airports have been taken. It’s an operation that has been prepared. They are the forces of... the extreme right”, he said.

“The president [of Ecuador] is alone [in the hospital] with just an assistant and a few security members. Our ambassador Navas Tortolero tried to enter the hospital but they impeded him. There is a lot of police violence and its clear they received instructions from above.”

Correa “told me, ‘I’m ready to die, I’m not going to give up’”, Chavez said. Chavez argued that a peaceful march needs to support the president, and the military needs to guarantee the peace. “Only Ecuadorians can neutralise the coup attempt... and can save democracy in Venezuela,” he said.

“Correa is a man of great dignity, we’ve seen him confront this situation despite his physical condition, his knee [which was operated on recently]... I have faith in President Correa, who has already suffered attacks from outside Ecuador in the sad case of Colombia’s incursion... he knows how to respond and how to plant peace in Ecuador”, Chavez said.

Chavez also commented that it was “strange that the military hasn’t appeared... their president is kidnapped... they aren’t letting him out, hopefully there’ll be a reaction... I’ve talked with Venezuelan military in Ecuador who tell me that the military there are in their barracks but they aren’t active... the situation is very very bad.”

Chavez called on the Ecuadoran military to “not allow them to massacre the Ecuadorian people” and to “rescue President Correa”.

“It’s a coup attempt against ALBA... the countries who have raised the banner of democracy... the [coup] masters... we know where they are, they are in Washington,” he concluded.

Already, Venezuelans are mobilising outside the Ecuadorian embassy in Caracas.

Regional response

The Organization of American States (OAS) is holding an emergency meeting and ALBA and the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) are making arrangements to hold emergency meetings.

However, Chavez commented on Telesur that the OAS is “impotent” in the face of such situations. “Beyond chest beating”, nothing will come out of it, he argued, sighting the case of Honduras.

To date in the OAS meeting, all government representatives who have spoken, including those from the Dominican Republic, Argentina, Chile and Paraguay, have said they reject the coup attempt.

Cuba, the European Union, the general secretary of the United Nations, Mexico, France and Bolivia also declared their support for the democratically elected Ecuadoran government.

The US ambassador to the OAS, Carmen Lomellin, stated, “We condemn any attempt to violate or alter the constitutional process and constitutional order in Ecuador.”

ALBA has also released a formal statement, manifesting “solidarity with the legitimate government of President Rafael Correa and with the sovereign people of Ecuador”.

Nestor Kirchner, general secretary of UNASUR, expressed his total support for and “absolute solidarity” with the Ecuadorian government.

Events in Ecuador

This morning police forces in Quito, Ecuador, took over strategic sites, including an airbase, airports and parliament. President Correa immediately went to the military base to work out a solution. Police claimed they were protesting a law passed on September 29 that allegedly would reduce their work benefits.

Correa argued that his government had doubled police wages and that rather the law just restructured the benefits.

He also denounced that ex-president Lucio Gutierrez, who, following large protests, was removed from office by a vote of the Ecuadorian congress in 2005, was behind the protest and using it to justify a coup.

Police attacked Correa with tear gas and the president was hospitalised shortly after in a military hospital, which coup forces subsequently surrounded. Since then he has not been able to leave.

Supporters have gathered around the presidential palace, and the Ecuadoran government has declared a state of emergency.

In a nationally televised press conference, Ecuador’s top military officials declared their support for the constitutional order of Ecuador. The top commander, General Ernesto González, demanded the police cease their subversive activities. However, the military has yet to intervene to end the police’s occupations, and only Ecuadoran civilians have taken to the streets to confront the police.

The coup attempt is not the first against an ALBA country, countries which challenge US domination in Latin America. In June 2009, Honduras, an ALBA member at the time, was subject to a coup d’état that forced its president Manuel Zelaya from power. In 2004, a coup similar to the one in Honduras was carried out in Haiti with US backing. In 2002 Venezuela was also subject to a coup, but a huge mobilisation by Venezuelans combined with military support for Chavez, defeated the coup.

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