by Clay Wadena
On Sept. 30 between 600 and 2000 Ecuadorean police and air force officers, angry over proposed austerity measures that would limit their bonuses, tear-gassed and seized Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa as Correa tried to negotiate with them. The officers shut down highways, seized the main airport, and took control of police barracks in the capital city of Quito and in other places.
President Correa was only freed when Ecuadorean army commandos stormed the police hospital where he was being held, an operation in which at least five of the “dissident” police officers were killed. The opposition in Ecuador is downplaying the incident, refusing to label it a “coup attempt,” but Ecuadorean state media has played taped recordings of police radio traffic in which orders are given to kill Correa.
Groups that represent social movements in Ecuador are clear about what it is as well: an attempted coup. And these groups, like CONAIE (Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador), don’t withhold their criticisms for the Correa administration either: CONAIE, with its regional Confederations and its grassroots organizations states their rejection to economic and social policies of the government, and with the same energy we reject the actions of the right.
“We demand that the national government firmly depose every possible concession to the right. We demand that the government abandon its authoritarian attitude against the popular sectors, that they not criminalize social protest and the persecution of leaders: the only thing this type of politics provokes is to open spaces to the right and create spaces of destabilization.”
“The best way to defend democracy is to begin a true revolution that resolves the most urgent and structural questions to the benefit of the majority.”
It is important for people inside and outside of Ecuador to support the popular defense of the Correa government against right-wing coup attempts, despite the fact that Correa has at times attacked indigenous groups and is merely pursuing capitalist reforms. But ultimately, the masses of Ecuador will need a government truly based on the rights and needs of the oppressed to manifest revolutionary change and protect themselves from a dangerous right wing.