Interesting this. Police and some Army units in Ecuador, unhappy with pay cuts, surrounded Ecuadorian president Rafeal Correa in a Hospitol in Quito and occupied the airport halting flights.
After a dramatic rescue by the Army President Correa proclaimed a coup against him had failed and the plotters would not be forgiven and face justice. Firely stuff or panicky fluff?
From the bbc:
BBC News - Ecuador neighbours reopen borders after 'coup attempt'
The angle that this was a coup is one taken up by some regional supporters of Correa who have also identifed the rest as a coup and demanded the plotters be arrested.
Now street protests, violent ones, are nothing new in Ecuador. A few previous presidents have been removed in the face of violent street protests, was this one any differant except for the outcome?
The Ecuadorian ambassador to the UK claimed yesterday that a breakdown in communication had been responsible for the protest, and he called it that, not a 'coup'. He claimed that the police were not getting a pay cut and overall would be better off then they were before, but that the government had failed to communicate this to the rank and file police force.
While the actions of the state police cannot be justified, neither should the sole reaction of the government be to ramp up potential revenge against protesters by branding them traitors or rebels. Especially when it seems the government itself may have already been guilty of high rhetoric and ignored the need to properly inform people about their necessary fiscal actions.
But now while Ecuador is faced with deep economic cut backs, the government instead has the platform to claim it is fighting a war, which is far more important. Correa could also rule by decree if he deems it necessary. But none of that will change that fact deep cuts and austerity measures are on the way. But Correa must proceed via democratic means, no matter how hard that is.
It remains to be seen if Correa is going to use this out of control protest to hamper political resistance and criticism of his government. But if it were a coup would the top brass not be involved at some level? Would radio and TV stations not be occupied? Would tanks not have been on the streets? in the end the forces of state control stayed under state control. It is a pitty though that troops had to be called out.
It seems to me that Correa has to let justice take its course and stop pretending that his tears born of mortal and understandable fear for his life were infact tears of rage and patriotism.
There is a tendancy as I see it for those involved in the 'Bolivarian revolution' to assume that the persuit of that 'revolution' is their sole goal and justification for all alse they have to do. Correa and his government enjoy a popular mandate, but it is their police force that they have failed to maintain and inform properly. The results of their mishandling cannot be blamed on 'enemies of the state'. Correa and his party allies have a responsibilty to govern and maintain parlimentry democracy, which Ecuador still is. At no point has Correas mandate been challanged throughout this, something that is unique if this was a 'coup'. In short the buck stops with Correa and reform both of the national police and the economy will not be possible without reconsiliation and proper communication.
Faced with further deep cuts to government expenditure, Correa would do well to put the 'revolution' on the back burner for a while least its aims be confused with the austerity measures that are inevitable. If he instead rules by decree and plays up a mythical split between his loyalists and national traitors, he runs the very real risk of having Ecuadorians identify Correa, his party and the Bolivarian revolution as being the roots and cause of both existing and future austerity. That in turn would create a political counter culture that could argue that removal of Correa, his party and scrapping of the Bolivarian revolution would solve all Ecuadors problems. Thus one poisenous myth give birth to another stronger one.