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Ecuador’s airport and armed forces rebellion

Interesting stuff. Here’s AP in English, but Spanish language readers should check out Comercio

QUITO, Ecuador – Hundreds of soldiers and police protesting a new law that cuts their benefits have seized the main airport in Ecuador’s capital and shut off highway access to it.
The rebellious troops fired tear gas and burned tires after taking over bases in Quito, Guayaquil and other cities

The protests do not appear to threaten to topple the government.

President Rafael Correa has gone to speak with a group of protesters.

UPDATE: This is getting big, tense and complicated. Here’s a live streaming TV following the story. It’s not outright mutiny here (for want of a beter word, perhaps), but it’s most definitely a direct defiance of President Correa by the armed forces…that’s never good in South America. The whole protest stems from a law Correa wanted to send to Congress that would cut pay and benefits to some areas of the armed forces and the police. There’s reports of tear gas, disturbances and “hundreds” of soldiers and police officers in control of the Quito air base, Ecuador’s largest barracks.

UPDATE 2: Here’s a quote from a defiant Correa to the military protestors; “If you want to kill me, kill me if you’re brave enough, instead of being in the crowd, hiding like cowards”. There’s also talk of Correa dissolving parliament to deal with this situation.

UPDATE 3: 11:07am local time and Ecuador TV is reporting that Correa is meeting with his cabinet in the Presidential Palace.

UPDATE 4: 11:12am Defense Minister Carbajal says that the situation has been caused by disinformation and people who wanted to propagate the falsehood that the new law would cut armed forces and police pay and benefits. He states that he expects the situation to calm and come under control in the very near term today. TV is also reporting that the protests at the barracks are now much calmer.

UPDATE 5: A good observation from a reporter on the scene. He says that the banners being carried and displayed by the police and army personnel protesting the government and the law passed yesterday are very well elaborated and suggest some fairly sophisticated preparation for this protest.

UPDATE 6: It sounds like things are getting worse, not better. Newsflow isn’t easy to follow and is rather confused, but it seems that “nearly all barracks” up and down the country have joined the protest, that the Minister of Eduacation has asked all schools and colleges to keep students inside their buildings until the situation is calmer and that Correa was taken to hospital for a while (now discharged) because when he went to talk/negotiate with the police and army members at the Airport he was greeted by teargas and inhaled too much gas. However we reiterate that he’s now fine and meetin gwith his cabinet in the Presidential Palace.

UPDATE 7: IMPORTANT. The head of Ecuador’s armed forces has just (11:34am local time) expressed his full support for President Rafael Correa and his Government.  A significant declaration and one that is likely to calm things greatly.

UPDATE 8: Ecuador’s Vice President Moreno says that the main protest is coming from police officers, with some lesser protests from some army personnel, but the main protest is from the police forces. He says that all high ranking officials have reaffirmed their loyalty to the President and the government. In the live phone covnersation Moreno sounded very calm and relaxed and wa clearly aiming to calm the waters.

UPDATE 9: Interior Minister Carbajal (not defence minister as stated earlier) says that the situation is delicate that has been brought about by a systematic program of disinformation from unknown sources. He affirms that the main protest is from the police force and NOT the army. He says that police officers are being mislead and they will not lose pay or benefits from the law passed yesterday. When asked to identify the destabilizing elements, he pointed at the oligarchy elements of Ecuador who oppose the changes brought about by Correa. He affirms that Correa is not in hospital, he is in the Presidential palace and is being protected by the military. He was keen to emphasize that violent episodes have happened but are relatively minor. Three banks have seen raids in Guayaquil and are getting headlines, but so far looting has been sporadic, despite the lack of police on the streets.

UPDATE 10: A Flash update has been sent to subscribers on today’s events and how they might affect Ecuador exposed companies. We’re signing off on our updating now, as the mainstrea media now find this interesting. So follow it via the professionals. 

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