Political Risk Latin America Blog @PolRiskLatam

Ecuador politics: Crisis overcome, risks linger

Posted in News and Articles, Political Risk by politicalrisklatam on October 7, 2010

by The Economist Intelligence Unit, October 1st, 2010.

Ecuador’s government faced its biggest crisis to date on September 30th, when a protest by police forces escalated and President Rafael Correa was virtually taken hostage. A military operation rescued him in the evening, and any immediate risk to him and his government has abated. However, the rebellion has renewed concerns about political stability in the chronically unstable country, and raises questions as to whether Mr Correa’s policy approach might change.

It is not yet clear whether the government can prove its claim that the protests and their violent aftermath were an organised attempt to overthrow him. The police were demonstrating against a new public austerity law that they believed would cut their benefits and eliminate promotions. Government officials have denied this, saying the law would only slow the rate of salary and benefit increases as part of a broader policy to reduce fiscal expenditure. Nonetheless, the law, passed by congress a day earlier, sparked the protests, in which some elements within the air force apparently participated, resulting in roadblocks and a shutdown of the international airport in Quito. Striking police also occupied the National Assembly. 

But the heads of Ecuador’s armed forces immediately expressed support for Mr Correa and the constitutional order, suggesting that the military had no direct role in the disturbances. Some in the opposition assert that Mr Correa has overblown the motives behind the protests, saying they simply got out of hand and were not intended to be a direct challenge to the government’s authority. Violence and at least two deaths resulted, nonetheless.(continue reading… )

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