Political Risk Latin America Blog @PolRiskLatam

After Ecuador’s near coup: Who’s next?

Posted in News and Articles, Political Risk by politicalrisklatam on October 8, 2010

by Ian Bremmer for Foreing Policy, October 7th, 2010.

Late last week, Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa, having tried to pass a new public servant law that would have significantly cut police wages, found himself roughed up, tear-gassed, and barricaded inside a Quito hospital by rebellious cops for several hours before loyal officers finally shot their way inside and freed him. It was all the result of Correa’s attempt to roll back spending in one of South America’s most challenged economies, in a context where he has precious few financing options (having defaulted on his country’s debt in 2008, Correa’s finding it a little hard to get loans these days).

Because Ecuador’s military and its top police commanders remained loyal, the coup quickly fizzled and the plotters were soon jailed. Order, for the time being, has been restored. But last week’s unpleasantness in the Andes reflects a broader story with potentially more worrisome implications: how the extended economic downturn is dramatically exacerbating popular discontent with regimes where political instability had already been percolating — and how, in some cases, that discontent can quickly and without warning spiral out of control.

This isn’t much of a concern for the world’s key emerging markets — think China, India, Turkey, or Brazil — since they’ve all performed well over the past year. Nor is it an issue for most of the underperforming developed states, since even the worst of these laggards have enough built-in social and political stability to weather the slow, painful recovery to come (think Japan). Even Greece, basket case that it is, should be able to soldier on, thanks to all the funding and outside support it has received from Europe and multilateral bodies such as the IMF.(continue reading… )

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