Ecuador declares emergency as police protest, president is attacked

Ecuador’s government appeared teetering on the verge of collapse Thursday, as national police took to the streets of Quito, the capital, and physically attacked the president over what police said was the cancellation of bonuses and promotions.

The minister of security, Miguel Carvajal, said one person was killed and several were wounded, but did not offer details.

The government declared a one-week state of emergency Thursday afternoon and put the military in charge of security. The military said it will support the president and the nation’s democratic institutions.

 “This is a coup attempt,” President Rafael Correa said in a TV interview from the hospital, where he had been taken after police lobbed tear gas at him.

Correa, 47, said police were trying to get at him there.

“They’re trying to get into my room, maybe to attack me. I don’t know,” he said in a telephone interview with state-run Ecuador TV, referring to his attackers as “cowards.”

“But, forget it. I won’t relent. If something happens to me, remember my infinite love for my country, and to my family I say that I will love them anywhere I end up.”

A video by CNN affiliate Ecuavisa later showed a defiant Correa standing at an upper floor window, shouting to a crowd of supporters who had gathered outside the hospital, “If they want me, here I am,” and then ripping his necktie loose.

Later, he told a television station by telephone from the hospital that, if he were killed, he would be replaced by thousands of revolutionaries. “The most I have to lose is my life,” he said. “They’re going to achieve absolutely nothing!”

Correa told a reporter said he was in good health and he thanked the presidents of countries around that world who have called him to express their support.

In response to a question, Correa said he believed he had been kidnapped by police, since he was not being allowed to leave the hospital. He added that he would not reach any agreement with the protesters until they abandon their positions and leave police headquarters.

But Doris Solis, the coordinating minister of politics, disagreed with his characterization of events. “This is not a coup,” Solis told CNN en Espanol. She said Correa was speaking with police representatives inside the hospital.

Solis also said Correa would return to his office within a few hours to meet with his cabinet members.

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~ by FSVSF Admin on 7 October, 2011.

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