Mérida, September 30th 2010 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – As a coup attempt takes place in Ecuador, Venezuela and regional organisations of Latin America have come out in solidarity with Ecuador, and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez called on the people and military of Ecuador to defend President Rafael Correa and their country’s democracy.
Ecuador is a close ally of Venezuela, and a fellow member of the progressive Bolivarian Alliance of the People of Our America (ALBA).
Early this afternoon the Venezuelan Foreign Ministry released an official statement condemning the coup attempt and expressing its solidarity with President Rafael Correa and the Ecuadoran people.
The statement said, “A few minutes ago President Hugo Chavez Frias talked with President Rafael Correa, who is being held in the National Police hospital in Quito. President Correa confirmed that what is taking place is a coup attempt, given the insubordination by a section of the National Police towards the authorities and the law”.
“Commander Hugo Chavez expressed his support for the constitutional president of our sister, the Republic of Ecuador, and condemned, in the name of the Venezuelan people and the Bolivarian Alliance of the People of Our America (ALBA), this attack against the constitution and the people of Ecuador,” continued the statement.
“The government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela expresses its confidence that President Rafael Correa and the Ecuadoran people will overturn this coup attempt and, together with the people of Latin America and the Caribbean, we will be alert and accompanying them with solidarity in this historic moment,” the statement concluded.
Later this afternoon, Chavez talked on the telephone with Telesur, commenting on the coup attempt as he prepared to travel to Argentina to meet with other presidents of UNASUR and discuss the situation in Ecuador.
“According to what our ambassador [in Ecuador] has reported, the airports have been taken. It’s an operation that has been prepared. They are the forces of... the extreme right,” he said.
“The president [of Ecuador] is alone [in the hospital] with just an assistant and a few security members. Our ambassador Navas Tortolero tried to enter the hospital but they impeded him. There is a lot of police violence and its clear they received instructions from above.”
Correa “told me, ‘I’m ready to die, I’m not going to give up’,” Chavez said.
Chavez argued that a peaceful march needs to support the president, and the military needs to guarantee the peace. “Only Ecuadorians can neutralise the coup attempt... and can save democracy in Venezuela,” he said.
“Correa is a man of great dignity, we’ve seen him confront this situation despite his physical condition, his knee [which was operated on recently]... I have faith in President Correa, who has already suffered attacks from outside Ecuador in the sad case of Colombia’s incursion... he knows how to respond and how to plant peace in Ecuador,” Chavez said.
Chavez also commented that it was “strange that the military hasn’t appeared... their president is kidnapped... they aren’t letting him out, hopefully there’ll be a reaction... I’ve talked with Venezuelan military in Ecuador who tell me that the military there are in their barracks but they aren’t active... the situation is very very bad.”
Chavez called on the Ecuadoran military to “not allow them to massacre the Ecuadorian people” and to “rescue President Correa.”
“It’s a coup attempt against ALBA... the countries who have raised the banner of democracy... the [coup] masters... we know where they are, they are in Washington,” he concluded.
Already, Venezuelans are mobilising outside the Ecuadorian embassy in Caracas.
The Organisation of American States (OAS) is holding an emergency meeting and ALBA and the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) are making arrangements to hold emergency meetings.
However, Chavez commented on Telesur that the OAS is “impotent” in the face of such situations. “Beyond chest beating”, nothing will come out of it, he argued, sighting the case of Honduras.
To date in the OAS meeting, all government representatives who have spoken, including those from the Dominican Republic, Argentina, Chile, and Paraguay, have said they reject the coup attempt.
Cuba, the European Union, the general secretary of the United Nations, Mexico, France, and Bolivia also declared their support for the democratically-elected Ecuadoran government.
The US ambassador to the OAS, Carmen Lomellin, stated, “We condemn any attempt to violate or alter the constitutional process and constitutional order in Ecuador”.
ALBA has also released a formal statement, manifesting “solidarity with the legitimate government of President Rafael Correa and with the sovereign people of Ecuador”.
Nestor Kirchner, general secretary of UNASUR, expressed his total support for and “absolute solidarity” with the Ecuadorian government.
Events in Ecuador
This morning police forces in Quito, Ecuador, took over strategic sites, including an airbase, airports and parliament. President Correa immediately went to the military base to work out a solution. Police claimed they were protesting a law passed on Wednesday that allegedly would reduce their work benefits.
Correa argued that his government had doubled police wages and that rather the law just restructured the benefits.
He also denounced that ex-President Lucio Gutierrez, who, following large protests, was removed from office by a vote of the Ecuadorian congress in 2005, was behind the protest and using it to justify a coup.
Police forces attacked Correa with tear gas and the president was hospitalised shortly after in a military hospital, which coup forces subsequently surrounded. Since then he has not been able to leave.
Supporters have gathered around the presidential palace, and the Ecuadoran government has declared a state of emergency.
In a nationally televised press conference, Ecuador’s top military officials declared their support for the constitutional order of Ecuador. The top commander, General Ernesto González, demanded the police cease their subversive activities. However, the military has yet to intervene to end the police’s occupations, and only Ecuadoran civilians have taken to the streets to confront the police.
The coup attempt is not the first against an ALBA country, countries which challenge US domination in Latin America. In June 2009, Honduras, an ALBA member at the time, was subject to a coup d’état that forced its president Manuel Zelaya from power. In 2004, a coup similar to the one in Honduras was carried out in Haiti with US backing. In 2002 Venezuela was also subject to a coup, but a huge mobilisation by Venezuelans combined with military support for Chavez, defeated the coup.