Quito, Ecuador — Ecuador has declared a state of emergency as hundreds of police protesting wage cuts and freeze promotions, stormed the congress and attacked President Rafael Coorea.
Video from a news media outlet showed how a diplomatic Correa was attacked by the angry riot. The assault came after the president tried to negotiate calmly with the police mob. Instead of appeasement, the crowd surrounded the president and soon jostled him. Someone then fired a tear gas canister at him. The next scene saw a limping president, with a gas mask, punched by a man.
Later a helicopter came into Correa’s aid. He was flown to a nearby hospital. Correa, however, told reporters that he was kidnapped by cops that were members of the protest, since they forbid him to leave the hospital.
In a telephone interview with state-run Ecuador TV, President Rafael Correa called it a coup attempt.”They fired gas on us — on the president of the republic,” he said. “This is treason to the country, treason to their president. They’re trying to get into my room, maybe to attack me. I don’t know,” he added. The 47 year old president also called the attackers “cowards”.
Inspite of the attacks, the president assured his supporters that he will not yield to the protesters demand until they abandon their positions and negotiate diplomatically. He also blamed former president Lucio Gutierrez’s loyalist opposition troops for the unrest.
The protest was over an alleged wage cut and freeze promotion law passed Wednesday by the National Assembly. But Correa made clear that the law does not cancel bonuses and cut salaries of police, as some were led to believe. Correa and his team accused his political opponents of planting wrong information to the public about the legislation.
The protest saw hundreds of renegades seizing government buildings and public domains such as airport, Television, and the Congress. Anger and resentment filled the air as one police told CNN that they were overworked but underpaid. “We work 14 hours a day. We are the ones who never protest.” he said.
Government officials tried to quell the uprising, insisting that they had been misinformed and that a coup attempt has been made. Officials tried to disperse demonstrators with tear gas. At around 5:oo p.m. the governor of Guayas province, Roberto Cuero announced that peace over the city was restored and that things are stabilizing. “The city has begun to recover tranquillity,” he said.
By 6:30p.m., Commandant Jorge Gross announced on TV that peace is being restored. “We can guarantee the citizens that order and security are slowly being re-established,” he said.
Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino led a large pro-government rally. He called for a peaceful resolution. He urged people to reject the coup and rescue their president.
Rafael Vicente Correa Delgado was elected president in late 2006. He took on the role in January 2007 and was due to end on January 15, 2011. But a new approved constitution mandated general elections for April 26, 2009. He won in that election and consequently, he was granted a a new term in office due to end on August 10, 2013, which could possibly be extended by reelection until 2017.