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article imageEcuador declares state of emergency after police, army protests

By Igor I. Solar     Sep 30, 2010 in Politics
Quito - Hundreds of police officers and armed forces of Ecuador rose today against the government of President Rafael Correa to reject the approval of a controversial law that would eliminate bonuses, promotions and awards to members of these institutions.
Amid the protests, the military took over the airport runway of Quito's International airport, forcing the cancellation of domestic and international flights. Police officers also took the headquarters of the National Assembly in Quito, preventing the entrance of legislators who approved the controversial law last night.
Additionally, hundreds of soldiers gathered this morning in Regiment No. 1, the largest of Quito, to demand promotions, bonuses and awards alleged to be eliminated under the new law.
Police forces have occupied barracks in several cities and blocked access roads to the capital, stating that they will remain inactive in their police duties.
When officers threw tear gas, President Correa was reportedly taken to a hospital after being overcome by the gas, MSNBC reports.
The South American country has declared a state of emergency. There are rumours of tanks rolling through the streets of Quito near the hospital where Correa has been taken.
Hundreds of businesses have closed due to the lack of police protection. As MSNBC found, looting was reported in the capital and in the coastal city Guayaquil. "That city's main newspaper, El Universo, reported assaults on supermarkets and robberies due to the absence of police."
Despite these actions, the lawmakers have said they will not reverse the initiative already passed.
Top military leader supports the President
The Chief of Command of the Armed Forces of Ecuador, Ernesto González, said the Army is subordinate to the authority of President Rafael Correa.
"We are in a state of law. We are subordinate to the highest authority of the President of the Republic. We will take appropriate action as determined by the national government to restore order" said the military chief in a statement broadcast by local media in the city of Cuenca.
UPDATE (30/09/10; 21:00 hrs.)
Argentina, Brasil, Chile express concern on Ecuador crisis
Political authorities in Chile and Argentina have expressed their support to President Rafael Correa of Ecuador and reaffirmed their confidence in the democratic institutions of the Andean country.
Santiago, Chile. Speaking from La Moneda, the Chilean Presidential Palace, President Sebastián Piñera said he communicated by phone with Rafael Correa, President of Ecuador, to give him the support of the Chilean government.
"I have expressed, on behalf of the Government of Chile, our full and total support for the constitutional order, democracy and the constitutional government of President Correa," said Piñera, accompanied by Foreign Minister Alfredo Moreno.
Buenos Aires, Argentina. The Argentine government gave its support today to the President of Ecuador, Rafael Correa, and expressed concern over the situation arising as a result of protests from police and military in that country.
"Argentina's Foreign Ministry expresses its deep concern at the incidents perpetrated today by police and military personnel of the Ecuadorian armed forces in the cities of Guayaquil and Quito” said an official statement.
"Argentina's Foreign Ministry expresses its confidence that the democratic institutions of our sister country and the political authority of the constitutional president, Rafael Correa, will find the best avenues in defense of the higher interests of the Ecuadorian people and the government," said the message of the Argentine Foreign Ministry.
Rio de Janeiro, Brasil. The tense situation in Ecuador is being closely monitored by President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and Foreign Minister Celso Amorim. According to the special advisor to the presidency, Marco Aurelio Garcia, Lula has already discussed the possibility of activating the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), Mercosur and the Organization of American States (OAS), to provide a firm and coordinated response rejecting disregard to the constitutional order in Ecuador.
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