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Ecuador and Oil and a Report from the "Front"

As Jaime Omar Yassin writes in his latest blog, this Ecuador coup attempt comes as the government is restructuring its oil contracts and renegotiating connected fees. So we can believe that a branch of the military tried to kill the President of the country because they were pissed at how their salaries and benefits were calculated or we can believe that these vitally important economic negotiations were the trigger or, as Jaime seems to imply, both things and probably many more.

In any case, there's a lesson here about what triggers coup attempts and how our response, including the huge International response facilitated by the Internet, is critical.

Jaime's Blog entry:

Valeria Betancourt is a sister and colleague from the Association for Progressive Communications, of which MF/PL is a part. She lives with partner and family in Ecuador and here is the simple, powerful email she sent the APL's leadership this morning. Can you image suddenly not being able to reach your kid in the middle of that kind of situation? OMG!

Here's Valeria:

"We had a coup attempt yesterday. A tense calm at the moment here in Ecuador. We can not yet believe what happened. Late last night the president was rescued by the military forces in the middle of a shooting between the military and the police who were part of the rebel group. The argument was precisely the approval of a bill on public service which was wrongly interpreted by a faction of the police as a reduction of their benefits. However, it is clear the uprising did not have to do only with a salary demand. It was a political move of the opposition to cause instability. When the president of the republic went yesterday morning to the main policy regiment when the rebellion was happening, he was furiously attacked by police members and infiltrators. Then, the president was kept against his wish in the police hospital for more then 15 hours until the military operation rescued him and brought him to the government palace. Thousands of people on the streets and in the main square in front of the government palace waiting for the president. Civilians were furiously repressed by police along the day, as well as members of the legislative assembly. It seems there are more then 50 injured people and there are at least 3 dead police/military. Main streets were blocked, the city was paralyzed. Classes are still suspended.

"In which I think was a not appropriate decision of the government, all radio and TV stations were connected to a mandatory interrupted national channel for more than 10 hours. It provoked reactions from both progressive and non progressive actors who felt it was a limitation of freedom of expression. It was amazing how social networks were used by people and journalists to relate what was going on in different parts of the city and it allowed people to have different versions and perspectives of the events.

"As you can imagine, it was a very sad and tense day. I had a moment of panic in the middle of the Impact 2.0 online meeting when I got the news that classes were suspended and boys were coming back home earlier. I did not know how my son Esteban was coming back home. His school is a bit far from the city and he was not responding his cell phone. Fortunately, we were able to contact him and he let us know he was coming back home in the school bus. Lenyn, my partner, who works with one of the ministers spent many hours in the government palace where cabinet met to discuss the situation and wait for the president to be released. We are still shocked and very concerned about the implications of what happened here. It was very difficult to see the military and the police shooting among them and to see the police attacking the civilians and the president. Besides the fact of the huge international support democracy and the government received yesterday, it is really serious to see how the reactionary and right wing sectors are developing different sort of strategies in Latin America to destabilize and take or strengthen their economic and political control.

"Thanks to all who contacted me yesterday with your positive wishes for me and my family."