Source Fred Moseley
Date 10/10/03/08:41

I have an ex-student who is from Quito, so I asked her for an insider's
view of the events on Thursday, and she sent me this very informative

THURSDAY WAS ONE of the saddest days in Ecuadorian history. It all started
as a strike by the police force and a small fraction of the military,
because the day before a new law was approved by the government cutting down
their benefits such as Christmas bonuses, promotion bonuses, prolonging to 7
the numbers of years needed to receive a promotion, etc. Although the
government had already increased their salaries, these new measures were not
received well by the police, military and their families. So the police
decided to go on strike on Thursday, leaving the country completely
unprotected. The police blocked roads, burned tires, the way protests
usually develop in Latin America. In the meantime, there were numerous bank
robberies, stores were looted, houses robbed, and there was plenty of fear
among people because thieves were basically free to do whatever they

In the meantime, President Correa decided to visit one of the main
police precincts in Quito where many policemen had gathered. He gave a
speech that infuriated the protesters, creating more unrest. As he left the
precinct things got out of control, tear gas was thrown at him, he was
pushed and his leg was hurt (he recently had a knee replacement surgery).
With the help of only two of his men he was a able to escape to the Police
Hospital, which is right next to this precinct. He received medical
attention right away and by the time he was ready to leave, the building was
surrounded by police force impeding his departure until he revised the law
and gave them back their benefits. President Correa refused to negotiate
under such circumstances and so had to remain inside the hospital. He had
constant telephone contact with other government officials and with the
media, and many of his closest ministers and advisers where able to enter
the hospital and plan from there how things would develop.

The government immediately monopolized all TV and radio stations. The only
source of information came from the government, as private TV channels and
radios were not allowed to broadcast. State of emergency was declared and so
we lost our civil liberties. People were confused and misinformed as to what
was really going on. By 8pm the media was allowed to broadcast once again
and the country lived one of the most terrible moments in Ecuadorian

The President approved his rescue mission and 500 soldiers were deployed to
the area. We watched live how intense shooting started between the police
and the army. The images we watched resembled those of a warfare, we saw as
soldiers died before our eyes. The President was rescued from the hospital
and taken to the government palace. But 8 people died and more than 200 were

In my opinion it was not a coup d'état. It was a police revolt that got out
of control and resulted in actions that are condemnable and cannot be
justified. Impeding the President to leave the hospital and demanding their
benefits back under such conditions, was a terrible mistake. Leaving the
country unprotected and shooting and killing soldiers who attempted to
liberate the President is something that one cannot understand, and that
deserves proper punishment by law.

It was not a coup d'état because at no time was there anyone attempting to
take over the Presidency. Police leaders swore their loyalty to the
government. Policemen striking and protesting on the streets emphasized
their loyalty to the government but deplored the law that removed their
benefits. Opposition leaders did not support a coup d'état. There was no
politician attempting to take over the government. And two of the strongest
opposition leaders were not even in the country. Other movements that have
been strong critics of the government such as indigenous, education, and
transportation groups did not join the protests. The military remained loyal
to the government. And most importantly, there were no
demonstrations/protests from the civil sector. People who oppose the
government did not go out on the streets to protest or support the police

President Correa never lost contact with his government and was able to plan
his own rescue mission from within the hospital. He held numerous telephone
conversations with the government TV channel and radio. He received
Ministers and advisers in the hospital. If the police attempted a real coup
d'état none of this would have been permitted.

President Correa made the unwise decision of entering the police precinct
and challenging those present, instead of opening a dialogue with police
authorities in order to solve the situation. His reckless actions created a
very dangerous situation for democracy in Ecuador. The government failed
terribly at preventing the police strike from happening and opening a
dialogue with the police and military, in order to reach a better
understanding and agreement. The country should have never been left
unprotected for one day and no one should have had to die. The general
feeling in Ecuador is of tremendous sorrow and sadness, because things could
have been handled better and the crisis could have been prevented.

The government has many challenges ahead and the days to come will be
crucial in terms of healing the wounds created by this revolt.

This is my opinion on what happened on Thursday. I hope I was able to
express it well. Fortunately, we've had an uneventful and peaceful weekend.
Hope you have a very nice Sunday!

[View the list]

InternetBoard v1.0
Copyright (c) 1998, Joongpil Cho