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I just got an email from CEPR about this news, which has not been too widely reported yet.  

There seems to have been an attempted coup in Ecuador.

Correa to me seems to be one of the good guys. Progressive but not radical and impulsive like Chavez.

Read on....

Here's the press release from CEPR:

Washington, D.C. - There are currently reports of a possible attempted coup d'etat underway in Ecuador. There have been violent protests by police and some elements of the military, reports that President Correa has been injured, and reports that the air force has closed down a number of airports.

The Organization of American States will convene an emergency meeting at 2:30 Eastern Standard Time in Washington D.C., to consider the situation.

Mark Weisbrot, Co-Director of the Center For Economic and Policy Research, called upon President Obama to state unequivocally that the United States will not recognize any government other than the democratically elected government of President Rafael Correa.

Weisbrot noted that the White House statement of June 28, 2009,  in response to the military coup in Honduras, did not make any such assertion, and in fact did not even condemn the coup.

"These types of statements are very important, in that the people who are trying to overthrow a democratic government are looking for signs of whether a coup government will be recognized by the United States. The first White House statement last year in response to the Honduran military coup sent the wrong signal at a crucial moment."

At the Summit of the Americas in Trinidad in April 2009, President Obama stated: "I just want to make absolutely clear that I am absolutely opposed and condemn any efforts at violent overthrows of democratically elected governments, wherever it happens in the hemisphere.

"This is an important time for President Obama to live up to this commitment," said Weisbrot.

The San Francisco Chronicle is reporting that police and soldiers are protesting attempts to cut their salaries.

Ecuadorean police and soldiers are objecting to a measure passed by congress last night that would delay automatic promotions and slow salary increases. Correa defended his policies, telling Radio Publica in an interview that salaries had doubled since he came to office in 2007.

Military Patrols

Gen. Luis Ernesto Gonzalez, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the armed forces may patrol the streets to "guarantee external and internal security."

All flights into Quito have been canceled after about 300 members of the armed forces stormed the airport and blocked the airstrip, Luis Galarraga, a spokesman for Quiport, the company that operates the airport, said today in a telephone interview. The protestors remained inside the airport as of 1:55 p.m. New York time and the airport will remain closed until they leave, he said.

PetroEcuador, the South American country's state-owned oil company and biggest source of export revenue, said operations were normal as the military guarded refineries and oil fields.

Phone calls into the country weren't connecting as of 1 p.m. New York time.

The AFP is reporting the situation this way:

QUITO — Ecuador was plunged into political crisis Thursday as troops seized the country's main airport and stormed the Congress building in what President Rafael Correa denounced as an attempted coup.
About 150 renegade troops seized a runway at Ecuador's international airport in the capital of the South American nation, as dozens of police protested on the streets against a new law which would strip them of some pay bonuses.
Dozens of police units took over government buildings in the country's other two main cities, Guayaquil and Cuenca, and Foreign Minister Ricardo Pitino blamed the insurrection on "sectors aiming to overthrow the government."
The uprising occurred as Correa was in the hospital recovering from an operation on his knee, and the president said he was seeking refuge in the building fearing for his life.
"It is a coup attempt led by the opposition and certain sections of the armed forces and the police," Correa told local television.

However, it's also reporting that the head of the Army still supports Correa:

But army chief Ernesto Gonzalez on Thursday threw his full support behind Correa, who was said to be considering dissolving Congress and holding snap elections to resolve the political crisis.
"We live in a state which is governed by laws, and we are subordinate to the highest authority which is the president of the republic," Gonzalez told a press conference.
"We will take whatever appropriate action the government decides on," he added.

So to me the situation seem to be one of a bunch of renegade police and soldiers trying to take control of the government to avoid salary reductions, but without the support of the military high command I don't know how far this will actually go.

I think it's important to emphasize a point that Mark Weisbrot made in the press release. The Obama administration needs to act on this now, and make a statement supporting Correa as the democratically elected president. They were silent on the Honduras coup for a long time, and that situation did not come out well.

In any case, the country is now in a period of instability. Lets see what happens. I'll post updates as I find them.

UPDATE 1: Here's a link to some BBC video. Correa in a gas mask. Thanks Little.

Originally posted to on Thu Sep 30, 2010 at 11:49 AM PDT.

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