Citizens’ revolution defeats coup attempt in Ecuador

The failed coup in Ecuador and the assassination attempt against President Rafael Correa on 30 September 2010 were another serious threat to the revolutionary process in Latin America. As investigations into the events proceed it is possible to fit together the complex and troubling pieces of the puzzle, as Fidel Narváez, Consul of Ecuador in the UK, writes.

In the morning, Ecuadorian police throughout the country went on strike to protest against the approval of a law to regulate public servants, which would apparently reduce police privileges. When President Correa went in person to the main police centre to talk to the strikers he was met with violence, being virtually kidnapped for more than ten hours in a police hospital nearby. At the same time, a section of the air force took control of the country’s international airports. Another group of police assisted government opponents attempting to occupy the National Assembly. The building of the public media was also attacked and seriously damaged. Several roads were blocked. The police refusal to work led to a break down of order and vandalism, looting and robbery occurred in the main cities throughout the country.

What the government’s opponents, with the assistance of the private media, tried to present as just a police protest actually involved all the elements necessary to be considered as an attempted coup. The objective was to create general chaos to justify the armed forces taking power. Once this strategy failed, they attempted to kill the President, as is clearly demonstrated in the audio and video records of the events.

Three main factors ensured the failure of the coup in Ecuador: 1) The coup plotters did not have popular support. Contrary to what has happened to previous governments in Ecuador, this time people took to the streets not in protest against the President, but to defend him. 2) The military forces did not support the protest; they remained loyal to the government and carried out a spectacular operation to rescue the President alive. 3) The President showed that he is a leader who is prepared to give his life for the Citizens’ Revolution and for democracy. He did not consider surrendering the power which he was legitimately elected by the people to exercise.

The real motive behind the coup was resistance to the profound changes that the revolutionary government has implemented at every level of society. In relation to the national police, for example, the direct link between them and the CIA no longer exists. Previously, under the pretext of the war against narco-trafficking, the Ecuadorian police received financial and material resources from the US embassy in exchange for information. Additionally, President Correa’s government has initiated legal proceedings against members of the police accused of grave human rights violations in the past. For the first time in Ecuador we see a serious attempt to make law enforcement accountable to civil power, but this will not be possible without a thorough restructuring of the police and the armed forces, in line with the revolutionary change that the people of Ecuador demand.

The main lesson is the need for the population to be organised into a political entity, to strengthen the revolutionary process and to defend it from the constant threat from the internal and external forces that are losing their privileges as Ecuador finally recovers its political and economy sovereignty. Today it is more important than ever to act in international solidarity with the government of Ecuador and the progressive governments of Latin America.

FRFI 218 December 2010/January 2011


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