Ecuador declares state of emergency amid ‘coup attempt’

From the BBC, 1 October 2010:

A state of emergency has been declared in Ecuador after President Rafael Correa accused the opposition and security forces of a coup attempt.

Mr Correa was hit by tear gas after a confrontation and taken to hospital, before violence flared amid reports he was trapped inside.

Gunfire broke out after dark as soldiers launched a reported rescue.

Unrest has been reported across Ecuador amid anger at a new law cutting benefits for public servants.

Supporters said security forces were not allowing the president to leave the police hospital, where he went for treatment after being hit by teargas.

The minister responsible for security, Miguel Carvajal, said at least one person was killed and several others were injured during the unrest, but this could not be immediately confirmed.

Mr Correa has received strong support from governments throughout the Americas, with a string of Latin American nations and the US all speaking up for the embattled president.

In other developments on Thursday:

  • Police officers erect road blocks in Quito, Guayaquil and Cuenca. Several government buildings are occupied
  • Looting is reported in the capital and Guayaquil. Banks are robbed, while schools and businesses close due to the lack of security
  • The head of the armed forces declares its loyalty to the president
  • Venezuela’s president claims Mr Correa is “in danger of being killed”
  • Peru and Colombia close their borders with Ecuador in solidarity.

The drama began on Thursday morning when members of the armed forces and police angry at the austerity measures occupied several barracks and set up road blocks across the country.

TV stations showed images of police setting tyres on fire in the streets of Quito, Guayaquil and other cities. The National Assembly building was also occupied.

Read the historical notes on my book blog.

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