Everything in Ecuador was back to normal by last Saturday.
Shall we score one for El Presidente… or…
not? Here is a photo I was able to take of President Correa. He is a great politician so I (and plenty of others)… were able to get close.
Was last Friday’s flareup just Correa (see below that many believe so) or something deeper and real?
At the end of my comments are
On July 13, 2010 I wrote in a message entitled Ecuador Political Tension “I predict that the remainder of the summer will be hot and tense for Correa.”
Was I ever proven correct when Ecuadorian turmoil went beyond hot and boiled over last Friday!
Though our note to readers about the Ecuador police strike was among the first sent to the west, my thinking was… “There is a silver lining”.
Last Friday, our story on Ecuador’s unrest was ranked third at Google right behind Reuters and NPR.
I have been a risk taking investor for many years and have learned that once in awhile when things get hot, fingers get burned… but overall when events heat up, so to does opportunity.
There is profit to be made in turmoil and disaster.
First, recognize the difference between turmoil and disaster.
The earthquake in Haiti was a disaster. Yet this will be an opportunity for some. Contractors who rebuild will profit. Employment will pick up. New political systems will form. All of this creates long term opportunity for a few.
Turmoil is far different. Turmoil is an event with little real impact that most investors treat as disaster. Such turmoil can create short term opportunity for the many who are willing to accept risk.
There are several areas of turmoil where I see opportunity now. Ecuador is one. See more below.
First…. Ecuador. When Merri and I first arrived in Ecuador in 1996, I saw that the country had started to boom along with the rest of Latin America.
Then a war (more like a prolonged argument with a bit of battle) between Ecuador and Peru and various other problems (droughts… electricity shortages) devastated Ecuador’s economy.
I felt the country was fundamentally sound and would pull through its problems so bought shares in the cement company and two of the largest banks (Pacifico and Previsora), plus put money on deposit (in US dollars paying 10% in the most profitable bank in the country (Progresso).
I was right. The market did boom and in the next 18 months prices almost doubled. At this stage I sold (and recommended that readers do the same) half my shares and pulled the original capital out of the country.
This is one of a good risk management systems… Pull back capital once profits are doubled in high risk deals. From that point on, whatever happens I have only my profits at risk. The downside to this system is that it dramatically reduces profits on the really big winners. Less conservative risk takers will let their capital and profits roll. Others will even increase their positions (something I rarely do).
In the case of Ecuador my risk management really paid off. Everything that could go wrong, did.
First, the country made such a disastrous choice in electing their President. Abdala Bucaram (called El Loco – The Crazy One) lasted as president only from 10 August 1996 to 6 February 1997.
The country had to impeach him. The new temporary President was also bad.
Finally, a really good man was voted in to run the country but were hit by a series of natural disasters. El Nino and La Nina flooded the country for two years, ruined roads, washed away bridges and destroyed crops. An earthquake rocked the coast and trade was hurt by the European banana (Ecuador’s biggest crop) war and the shrimp crop (Ecuador’s second biggest export) was infected with white spot. Banks started to collapse.
Then two of the country’s volcanos (which had not erupted in almost 600 years) started erupting and covered the capital of Quito with ash, shut the airport down and again created all types of havoc in general. The fourth largest city (Ambato) was evacuated and one of the largest spas (Banos) has been shut down.
My deposit (with Progresso) was frozen for a year, then the bank went bust and was taken over by the government. This led to a series of other bank collapses and now both the shares of Pacifico and Previsora plummeted to almost nothing. The government also defaulted on its Brady Bond obligations which squeezed the country even more. In short all the investments in banks went to zero.
The bank account was frozen over a year before we were paid back 60% of the deposit via a Ecuador government guarantee.
So a lot of the extra profits I made were given back. With my risk management system at least my capital was still at work and we began buying Ecuador real estate in 2000 when there was the worst chaos and turmoil in Ecuador.
Property could be bought at 10 cents on the dollar and we continued to accumulate Ecuador real estate Then prices rose so high in Ecuador that I began taking profits as and buying real estate in Florida where there had been a horrible crash.
In Florida there was (and still is) turmoil and disaster.
Now with this acceleration of Ecuador political tension, I am looking for Ecuador real estate again as well.
Indigenous gathering for…
Correa’s election campaign in…
Merri and I believe in adapting… turning lemons into lemonade.
Our experience suggests that these ongoing political machinations will have little impact on most gringos in Ecuador…
When Merri and I first visited Ecuador almost 15 years ago and watched the 1996 election when Abdala Bucaram used indigenous support to become president. In less than six months,when he lost the support of the indigenous, he was removed from office.
Since that time we have watched a series of presidents, come and go.
In May 1997, Interim President Fabián Alarcón, came and went and a National Assembly wrote a new Constitution. On the same day Ecuador’s new constitution began Jamil Mahuad assumed the presidency.
Mahuad, lasted only till January 2000 when the Ecuadorian National Congress, with the support of indigenous organizations, replaced him with Gustavo Noboa Bejarano, Mahuad’s vice-president. In 2002 Lúcio Gutiérrez, a former army Colonel who had a hand in kicking out Mahuad, with the support of indigenous organizations, was elected.
In April, 2005, Gutiérrez, due in part to his loss of support of indigenous organizations, was removed from the presidency. Dr. Alfredo Palacios, who completed Gutiérrez’ term until Rafael Correa, with the support of indigenous organizations, was elected president.
None of this political upheaval affected our lives or those of any expats that I know of.
There have been a few days of inconvenience due to roads being closed… but we have easily adapted to this. Overall Ecuador politics are non events for the gringos in Ecuador… unless they let the process upset them.
Plus just like life in Canada and the USA or wherever you live… we adapt as events unfold. There is plenty about US politics… big business…. government…. that I do not like. Yet little I can do but adapt.
Spotting strong economic trends in investing… in business…. in life go well beyond our logic.
This is why a major theme in our investing and business courses is, “There are always things we cannot know”.
This is why this quote is framed and sits on my desk… “Action is thy Duty… Reward not thy Concern”.
This is why we recommend to make sure that “the search to serve” is involved in every investment and business decision.
This is because the use of logic should only be a small part of our decision making process.
“Intentions”… at their deepest levels are as… or even more important…. than logic.
All our decisions… our businesses and investments are also impacted by the footprints of all those who have previously passed.
When we step out with a genuine intention to serve… combined with our intuition, experience and logic… the decision making process combined with the laws of nature maximize the chances for a positive outcome.
Tension in Ecuador politics may remain for now. However Ecuador’s indigenous live by the code… AMA KILLA, AMA LLULLA, AMA SHUA, (Don’t steal, don’t lie, don’t be lazy). That is a great foundation for peaceful living.
I do not see how this Ecuador political tension will impact expats living in Ecuador… especially those who have learned to integrate and serve the community in some or in many ways.
There are several reason why this tension in Ecuador could be profitable.
Ecuador’s tension is low compared to elsewhere. This photo of last week’s riot is not in Ecuador but is in…
Spain. Photo from Guardian Madrid, Spain: Demonstrators try to prevent buses leaving the Madrid transport bus company car park (linked at bottom this message)
An excerpt from last week’s USA Today article by David Lynch says: Protests over austerity moves swept Europe’s major capitals Wednesday, as the fallout from chronic debt concerns spread from trading desks to the streets.
The European crisis once centered upon Greece has landed in Ireland, where the government today is expected to announce a new infusion of aid for Anglo Irish Bank, the lender at the center of its costly credit bubble.
“We’re at potentially a crossroads,” said Marc Chandler, global head of currency strategy for Brown Bros. Harriman in New York, who worries that markets could next turn on Spain or even Belgium.
Moody’s is expected as soon as today to downgrade Spain’s Aaa credit rating by at least one notch.
Ireland last year won investor raves for enacting savage budgets, including double-digit cuts in government workers’ pensions. But the ever-increasing cost of repairing its ruined banks is swamping efforts to control public spending.
“Ireland is the only country in Europe that had a complete collapse of its housing market and a complete collapse of its banking system,” he said. “So it’s not surprising that they’re in deeper trouble than elsewhere.”
A Guardian article “European strikes and protests” says: Strikes and demonstrations take place across Europe against austerity measures aimed at tackling state budget deficits.
“Europe Hit by Widespread Strikes” Voice of America News says: Strikes took place across Europe Wednesday in protest against government austerity measures. Unions say over 20 million jobs have been lost across Europe since the economic downturn began.
Workers from across Europe took to the streets of Brussels on Wednesday in protest against European austerity measures. Police say most of the protesters marched on the headquarters of the European Union.
Union leaders hoped up to 100,000 people from 30 different countries would join the protest.
Belgium wasn’t the only European country hit by protests Wednesday.
In Spain, unions, representing hundreds of thousands of workers, launched the country’s first general strike in eight years.
Some strikers reportedly scuffled with police and bags of garbage were left uncollected on the streets; protesters stopped trucks from delivering basic groceries and airlines were forced to cancel some flights.
Elsewhere in Europe, Greek transport workers and hospital doctors walked off the job.
General Secretary of the Greek General Confederation of Labor Vangelis Bouzoulas said the people of Europe are protesting against high prices and increased unemployment. He said they are asking for better times and more work.
Protests also took place Wednesday in a number of other European countries, including Poland, Portugal, Ireland, and Italy.
Strikes are only one part of the risk picture. Sunday’s New York Times News Alert says:
U.S. Issues Terrorism Alert for Travel to Europe. The State Department issued an alert on Sunday urging Americans traveling to Europe to be vigilant about possible terrorist attacks.
The decision to caution travelers comes as counterterrorism officials in Europe and the United States are assessing intelligence about possible plots originating in Pakistan and North Africa aimed at Britain, France and Germany.
So what does one do?
There are ways to protect against and gain from turmoil.
Unedited comments from readers in Ecuador
American Mother Raising a family in in Cuenca
Thanks for this info…geez, you are better than the US Consulate Wardens…advising us of what’s going on…I guess they just wait for emergency situations to provide assistance in evacuations! Appreciate your information, Gary! Here in Cuenca, there seems to be an alert for commercial centers to be careful of theft, since there was no security and I also here that schools will be suspended, FYI. Saludos from Cuenca!
Ecuadorian Attorney from Manta
I saw your reports about Ecuador. We are so lucky to have someone like you writing about Ecuador.
Regarding what happen with Correa besides any political analysis Ecuador once again has demonstrated that has this ability to come back to normal life in one day, by Friday everything was the same.
I have seen several emails from foreign people living all over Ecuador that has support the country and they have comment that more or less is been very quiet and pacific in their places.
Well I hope nothing happens to President Correa. He has been the only president in Ecuador who has done something to stop la corrupcion y por eso esque estan en huelga la policia nacional del ecuador es la mas corrupta q puede haber.. pero que correa sepa q el pueblo esta con el “dale correa dale.. estamos contigo.
American Living in Cuenca
I am in Quito at the moment and most of the people gathered at the palace seem to be supporters of Correa and so far the military continues to support him as well. Unfortunately many people are taking advantage of the chaos and there is looting going on. Leanna tells me that the police in Cuenca are still working so it’s almost business as usual there.
The head of the bus and taxi syndicate is also being opportunistic by threatening to strike unless Correa raises fares.
Most of the main roads in Quito are blocked although buses are still running where they can get through.
The President had the brilliant idea of be defiant and “trash” the police, when the police actually is in charge of his security. So after he talked to them he had to leave and was hit and his personal safety was in danger. He managed to escape and now is at the same police hospital being treated (but he is fine). The police surrounds the hospital and he is not allowed to leave.
Now we are waiting for the law to be repealed and for everything to be normal. What makes things volatile is that the military is in charge now and the police has no power, which means that some friction could occur.
I personally feel that this is Correa’s fault, for two reasons:
1- He thinks he can run the country without caring of what the rest thinks. The Asamblea sends a law, he says in public he doesn’t care about it, veto the law, and the law passes enraging the population. Now no one cares to negotiate because they believe that in the end he will do whatever he wants regarding the agreement reached.
2- He goes and threatens the police and insults them and tells them that they must obey and he won’t negotiate with them. You may be really dumb to think that is the way to negotiate. Now the population is divided, the country makes headlines again for being a “mess” and our negotiation to renew the ATPDA with the american congress look not good.
Banks are closed, the airport is closed, streets are closed and the president was disrespected, this will cause that the other major laws that passed will face the same opposition and he may not have leverage to pass any other measure that he wants.
) to finance the deficit, that is illegal, so we have been suffering from a government that is on the wrong path. BUT we shouldn’t overthrown a government elected by the people, even when it is failing to comply to the very laws that it redacts.
WE ARE ONLY watching news from the GOVERNMENT, all channels are transmitting from the official TV station. We can’t watch our own information, SHAME on you.
Correa should be respected and he must be our president until his period ends, but THIS type of violence over our right to be informed by independent news organizations doesn’t help his cause.
LET’S hope that we end up learning something from this, let’s hope that the outcome is what we need from a democracy.
Developer in Vilcabamba
Always good to hear from you.
Here’s my take on what happened.
A number of mistakes were made that resulted in the chaos.
1. The police initiated a protest that was likely politically motivated and organized by former president Lucio Gutierrez and his supporters. This was the cause (not the new laws that affect police pay which could be negotiated).
2. Correa went into the streets (probably a mistake) to talk with the police demonstrators.
3. The police lobbed tear gas and injured the president (big mistake). At that point the protest transitioned from a typical Ecuadorian protest to one of far greater scale and intensity.
4. Correa ended up in a hospital which (unfortunately) was the police hospital.
5. The military charged the hospital to rescue Correa.
The upside is that the people rallied around the president and the concept of Democracy (versus mob rule). I think things are pretty much back to normal now albeit there are clean-up issues. This is in stark contrast to the situation in Honduras that went on for a long time.
Those responsible for this uprising will likely be brought to trial and punished severely. They deserve that.
This was a test for Ecuador. Presidents have been overthrown here with relative ease in the past. Not this time. It may be interpreted, ironically, as a sign of growing stability. That would be a good thing for the country and its future.
Coastal Hotel Owner
Gary, The general opinion is that this is very sad..but that the democracy may be strengthened due to the fact that the army stood behind the president..Let´s see what happens next..never a dull moment in a country like Ecuador..
Single woman living in Cotacachi
Hi everybody: The attached news article was sent to me from my sister in Canada. Yes, there is some violence going on especially in Quito and Guyaquil due to the President, in an effort to balance the budget, denied the police a raise and bonus.
Some friends and I went to Ibarra yesterday morning, unaware of anything going on, to Super Maxi to do our shopping for the weekend. Our cab driver explained that there were no police working; hence, the banks were all closed. We left Super Maxi with our groceries, and later learned that it was closed shortly thereafter. Also we were stopped on the road by military police, but it was uneventful. This morning, I heard loudspeakers about 6:00 am and apparently all the schools were closed for the day. Myra, my cleaning girl, explained that her two daughters were not allowed to go to school today.
However, little Cotacachi is doing just fine; the bank was closed yesterday but I was able to do a withdrawal. When I go to town today, I will carry just a little money, just in case, but really I feel perfectly safe. I would not, however, attempt to go to Otavalo or Iberra as there are roadblocks.
How do you like a President who stands behind his word and says, Kill me if you want to!
Believe me, Cotacachi is a very, very safe town and nothing is happening here.
Today is a lovely, sunny day; no doubt, it will reach the high 70’s. We are all just fine, not to worry.
Ecuadorian Tour Guide
My very personal comment about the events of yesterday. Began very early in the morning, were some more police troops, who were demonstrating their incomformidad to the approval of the law passed by the National Assembly, then more police were joining his incomformidad that they want to take away their privileges, which is not so, it is better they have obtained better wages.
I think it was insubordination of the troops and misinformation of the law, since they knew nothing about the act.
The chaos was increased when the President was to speak in St. peace with the cops, but they were very upset and started lagrimogenas pump problems, which affected the President came out and his companions.
The problem of all this led to national chaos, began the rampage, and had no control of anything, and that caused by the Police.
I wonder where was the gift of command of superiors? Since they may have comversations with the Minister of Interior Security, and then with the same President of the Republic, but did not, they wanted to make their own way and who achieved a emfrentamiento sibling of the same country. I expect this attitude of the National Police, and we as citizens, we are too wounded in our hearts to see how they acted the day yesterday, I hope the reflection both of the Politicians, Governments, Armed Forces and National Police, to this town always be at peace and to continue making the right decisions on welfare.
But do you really had a coup in Ecuador? I suppose not, that to speak of a coup should have been, at least, the clear attempt to overthrow President to replace him by someone. And in the case on all day yesterday that there was a deplorable and unjustifiable act of insubordination to the police who felt, rightly or wrongly, affected in their rights.
Politician Living in Imbabura
The problems are overcome now, I’m pretty sure about that rebellion or Strike whatever you want to named its only a strategy for our President to increase his popularity. Obviously this kind of news affects the good reputation of Ecuador. Please be patience and we will see better news very fast.
If you want or have an specific question about tha problem just let me know and I’ll find more information.
American Living in Salinas
I agree with you about the media drama. Watching live footage last night we saw the “Violent Rescue of President Correa.” The gunfire sounded pretty impressive until the reporter finally let on that they were firing dummy bullets. This morning the headline was “Bloody Rescue of President Correa,” although there haven’t been any images of bloodshed to back that up.
It brings to mind hurricane coverage in Florida, when even in cases where the storm (luckily) never came ashore, they always managed to find a shot of a ficus tree that had tipped over on someone’s house to illustrate “the storm damage.”
American Stranded at Quito Airport
Hello to friends and family:
You’ve all read the news about Ecuador in the press. I’d like to share our experiences here on the ground.
My wife and I were at the Quito airport on Thursday morning, awaiting our AA flight to Miami. On the television near the gate the local news stations were broadcasting the demonstrations at the Quito Police Headquarters, where there was a strike in progress to protest the denial of salaries and other benefits. Correa himself drove out to the Police HQ to confront the strikers and to convince them to peaceably go back to work. (You have to admire his courage for doing that!) Things quickly got out of hand; speechmaking turned into insults and shoving, then teargas. Someone produced a gas mask for Correa and escorted him, limping badly due to recent knee operation, into the nearby Police Hospital. Correa made his way to the nearest window and made his defiant speech, in front of the police force, a dozen television cameras, and the whole nation.
AA then told us that the airport had been completely closed down and that they had “no information” on the next flights out. Maria Helena and I grabbed taxi back to the hotel where we promptly turned on the TV and stayed glued to it for the better part of the day. Meantime the whole city shut down. Stores and shops closed, banks closed, no traffic anywhere except at the Plaza Grande where the crowds were mobilizing to support Correa. It was a real good time and stay indoors and off the streets, especially for foreigners. The army besieged the hospital and rescued Correa (2 dead, 44 wounded), all broadcast live by some very gutsy TV reporters. Correa returned to the Presidential Palace where he gave a rousing speech to the faithful. The whole show was over about 11 PM.
All of the local TV stations are effectively supporters of Correa (the opposition media was shut down a couple of years ago), so they all broadcast the exact same material. The message was uniformly pro-Correa. Not a word about the way he has manipulated Congress, the press, and the judges to suit his own agenda. In the middle of the afternoon the main door of the TV studio was broken down by university students (all broadcast live; the police could hardly start bashing heads). One young woman grabbed the microphone and spoke for maybe five minutes. She introduced herself as a law student, and spoke very articulately about the lack of freedom of press and freedom of political dialogue in the country. Then the network switched over to a live feed from Guayaquil and that was then end of the “dialogue”. For the rest of the day we heard not one word from the opposition.
The rank and file police had a legitimate complaint about benefits, but this activity was clearly orchestrated by highers-up with a broader agenda and who stayed out of the public view. About the same time that the strike began (~9 AM), the major bridge in and out of Guayaquil was shut down by the police, all airports were shut down by the air force, the main road to the North was blocked, and the border crossings to Peru and Colombia were closed. That took a lot of planning and a lot of coordination. Correa publically blames his predecessor, Lucio Guttierez, for an attempted coup. Guttierez has said not a word. A lot of people on the center/right despise Correa and his manipulation of public institutions. A lot of people on the left, including most workers and farmers, like him for his legitimate attempts to alleviate poverty.
My opinion: Like him or not, Correa was duly elected via the democratic process, and he should be allowed to finish his constitutional term of office. Voters still have the vote, and they can throw him out in 2013. To throw him out now would set this beautiful country back many years in terms of its social and political development.
Cheers to all,
Ecuador Businessman in Quito
Police strike, although a serious error by this institution’s troops – highly reproachable -, could probably and should have been resolved through other channels, such as through the country’s Minister of the Interior, who is in charge of the country’s internal security, and the higher police authorities.
It was a mistake for President Correa to try to micromanage the police situation by confronting and taunting the striking police in person. This caused the troops’ reactions and the unfortunate events that followed and that resulted ultimately in the death of police and military officers.
As you mention, drama sells and as a populist, Correa likes to sell his image. This was not a coup attempt: the police never demanded Correa’s resignation or his ousting; no opposition politician tried to take advantage of the situation by seizing power. It was a situation that escalated out of control, and that resulted in the President being held up in a Police Hospital, surrounded by Police troops demanding the reinstatement of the pay benefits that were taken away the night before by the passing of a new public service law. None of this would have taken place if Correa had stayed at his Presidential Palace and managed the situation through the proper channels.
American Living Near Guayaquil
Gary, one other note. As of this morning they are reporting that unfortunately 13 people have died. More than half of those as a result of looting in Guayaquil. It appears that the looting in Guayaquil was in neighborhoods where I don’t feel safe even on a day without political unrest.
Retired American Living in Quito
Living in Quito, Carolina, life returned to normal the very next morning. City and National Police were at their posts as usual. I did see a truck with soldiers on the back drive by, once. Being an ex-military man, I could tell that they were bored. For me, it is back to enjoying a wonderful life in Ecuador.
Indigenous shop owner in Cotacachi
Regards Sr. Gary
Believe yesterday was not any drama, provably what you where hearing in the news was not the half that was happend here in the country specially in Quito, in the end there was a big confromtation betewn a police group and the military group with firearms, oficially three persons died in that confrontation
Nobody expects this in their worst dreams was going to happen, Thursday was another normal day and just in a couple of hours was a chaos in all the coutry. I not sure if this like coutry show us good in the way than in few hours it was counteracted a seun coup or show us as very insecure country that in couple hour of nothing all the country was with out any policial secure, Every body say that behind this was the ex president Gutierrez.
The only one who get more admiration and power is Correa.
American Architect Living in Cotacachi
As for the ‘troubles’ yesterday’: I started out the morning went to the bank then took the bus to Ibarra for the echo gram and the Doctors appointment. All was normal. After having the echo gram I went to the Supermaxi mall to wait for the Doctor’s appointment at 4:00 p.m. All seemed pretty normal accepting the stores were closed. I thought it was just the afternoon siesta time. I went to the food court and it seemed odd that most of the vendors were closed except a couple. I had lunch and went down to the lower level cafe to have a Cappuccino. Then I asked the waiter when the stores would open. A man who overheard who spoke English told me that the police were on strike and there was a state of emergency and it would probably be over in a few hours. I sat in the cafe and watched the TV screen there as the head of the Military came on and assured that the country was safe.
All seemed relatively unconcerned.
After my appointment I took a taxi into Ibarra to meet a friend. Most all the shops were closed. Everything was peaceful. My friend and I went to the old traditional heladan (homemade ice cream) shop (Maria Suarez?) which was open. Again everyone seemed unconcerned.
I was assured that taking a bus was safe, but, the bus terminal was closed, however, the buses were still running. My taxi driver took me to a stop were he said a Cotacachi bus would be arriving. I waited for about 10 minutes for the bus. Everyone was going about their business as normal it seemed. While waiting there I saw a military person with what looked like a police officer in riot gear. It seemed they were on patrol.
Pretty uneventful there anyway it seemed.
Don’t know what’s happening today or exactly the severity of the situation, but, understand a police strike is unprecedented in recent history and the violence.
That’s it from this area. Sure you/Gary are monitoring things closely.
Ecuador Businessman in Quito
Today is a sad day… we saw again how vulnerable our democracy is, how irresponsible our leaders are, how polarized our country feels.
No so many years ago Lucio Gutierrez conspired to be president, few years later he was overthrown by other conspirators and today when we thought peace was finally here, he is been accused of trying to conspire again.
Other leaders are coming out to say “I told you so” screaming that democracy is a precious thing. SHAME on you as stupidity will allow you to distort reality, as people on the streets will believe your lies.
We don’t want more violence, more presidents, more chaos. But we don’t want more lies, more brain washing, more ignorance.
Correa may get away claiming that this was all planned to take him out of power, but that big lie will only cope with the shrinking majority that – blinded by idiocy – could believe whatever he says.
Albeit of the tragic outcome of yesterday’s successes, we now wake up with the feeling of betrayal, a sense that Correa sullied our country with a big sad party that lasted for many hours, while shotguns were shoot just minutes earlier.
We demur at the suggestion that this was an act put together by infected politicians. We all saw how this started, we saw how Correa – defiant of common sense – run like a coward looking for safety, he said before and later that he doesn’t mine dying for a great cause, but we didn’t see that, he run and hide… later protected by elite police at the hospital. How stupid you think we are?
Correa vetoes a law stating the he doesn’t care what the opposition says, sends the law with major changes back to Congress and hopes that it passes without a vote. He has done this on several occasions enraging the country, creating the sense that this is no democracy.
Now he has done it again, as we shudder with repulsion last night, we can’t help to think that we ought to fight too. Things were obviously out of control, but who in its right mind will go to provoke angry policeman?
After he blatantly went to provoke confrontation – when he should have reached for an agreement – an effete Correa tried to jump to the hospital, which is behind the police headquarters, and then after he collapsed and was taken to the emergency room, where he later claimed was taken hostage, the whole country was already in deep distress.
If an obdurate Correa did not go to the police headquarters to attack protesters, would this be considered an attempt to overthrown him?
Correa thought that his character might be a deterrent to the policeman protesting the law. He treated them like idiots, insulted them and left, so the country was besmirched by the violence last night. The president with a surprising lack of security was insulted and hit by this monstrous policeman that – altered by rage – infamously depicted our President.
But this is what happens when duress is thought to be the way to lead. I cling to democracy, respect the elected president and hope that Ecuador keeps being a peaceful place. But if I respect the law, shouldn’t the president do the same?
This is where things get blur. While the president swoon after he was cowardly attacked by the police, the riot outside was getting bigger and completely out of hand. What we now know was a pratfall by both sides of the equation, is being distorted to look as if it was a well-planned conspiracy against our democratic government.
That is why I feel sad today, the cri de coeur that was once heard at the opposition now must be louder and stronger. I feel that we lost everything yesterday, not only the life of our president was in real danger, but our democracy was destroyed. I do not mean by him taken hostage only, but by the government taking us hostage as well. For many hours the only news that we saw where from the government, meaning that its version of the events where the only ones being shot at our brains.
Correa and his crass political allies kidnapped our liberty, they were victims of their own hatred and despair, now we all pay the price for their mistakes.
Democracy is no cinch; it must be earned at all levels, built and nurtured, but it is not panacea we must accomplish success by other means as well.
What happened yesterday was tragic…pensive…sad. We woke up hurt by the insurgency of our police, the unnecessary rick that our president took and the military intervention to recue him that end up injuring several people and resulted in the dead of two.
We lost something that we may never get back. We must stand behind a president that threatens our very existence by being a semi-dictator, we must defend our democracy by standing down, we must obey our laws that are illegally enacted, we must wait for a right cause to unite us all. It is funny how the international community is quick to defend the so call democratic governments, but quite and slow when the common citizen loses the liberty that those same democratic governments ought to defend.
SHAME on everybody who let what happened yesterday to be forgotten and distorted. Correa is right, the opposition must win in the polls, but as we learned from the outcome of the elections in Venezuela, winning in the polls may not be enough…
There you have it what people on the ground had to say about last week’s Ecuador turmoil.
Join us this Thursday and see more on Ecuador and global opportunity.
Voice of America: Read more on current widespread European strikes here.
New York Times: October 3 2010 Terrorism Alert