ATTEMPTED COUP IN ECUADOR Sept. 30, 2010
Correa, rescued, speaks out: ‘Today is the saddest day of my life and of my gov’t’ Ecuadorean troops stormed a hospital in Quito and rescued President Rafael Correa, who had been holed up surrounded by renegade police protesting against government austerity measures. Correa arrived back at the presidential palace in the capital, where local TV images showed a large crowd of supporters cheering and waving Ecuador’s flag. Amid heavy gunfire, he was freed after soldiers raided the building where he spent most of the day. During the rescue operation, media sources assured: “President Correa is leaving in a wheelchair and a mask so as not to breathe in gas.” Dissident police had earlier attacked Correa, prompting the 47-year-old leftist leader to seek refuge in the hospital, where he accused rivals of trying to topple him in a coup. Local TV images showed soldiers moving into positions around the building before a barrage of gunfire rang out. Renegade police had earlier attacked Correa, prompting the 47-year-old leftist leader to seek refuge in the hospital, where he accused rivals of trying to topple him in a coup.
Earlier, Ecuadorean police tear-gassed supporters of the president outside a hospital where he was holed up apparently under duress during unrest in the South American nation, witnesses said. The country’s Security Minister Miguel Carvajal reported one death and the Red Cross confirmed at least 51 injured during the uprisings. Also, the partially state-run ECTV Ecuador television station said police entered their building and tried to cut their transmission signal, but they remained on-air. “This is not Honduras. Correa is president,” protesters chanted, walking through the smoke, in reference to a 2009 coup in the Central American nation.
At least 51 people were injured in Ecuador during anti-austerity protests against President Rafael Correa, the Red Cross said.
Clashes outside the hospital followed a chaotic morning in which Correa and his wife were attacked, troops took over the main international airport, and protesting police burned tires in demonstrations against planned cuts to their bonuses.
Presidents of the South American Nations Union (UNASUR) will meet in Buenos Aires City in an urgent extraordinary session to analyse the current crisis in Ecuador. The encounter was confirmed by Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez. Uruguayan President José “Pepe” Mujica has already arrived, along with Bolivia’s Evo Morales. Alan García, from Perú, and Sebastián Piñera from Chile, have also arrived; others are on their way. “All the UNASUR heads will meet in Buenos Aires tonight,” Chávez said. Earlier, President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner spoke with Peruvian President Alan García about the situation in Ecuador and the possibility of
holding a UNASUR meeting. “I told Fernández de Kirchner about the idea of meeting with UNASUR foreign ministers in order to show as much support as possible for Ecuador and help in whatever way necessary,” said García from the government headquarters after he spoke via telephone with Fernández de Kirchner. ‘I’ll leave here as president or they’ll take me out as a corpse,’ Correa from hospital Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa said he would not negotiate with dissident police over budget cuts unless they ended their protest. “I leave here as president or they take me out as a corpse,” he said in a telephone interview with local television from a hospital where he is holed up. He also said he would not authorize an operation to rescue him because he wanted to avoid bloodshed.