Friday, October 01, 2010

Was there a coup attempt in Ecuador?

Given the information we current have--and obviously that will change as more details emerge--it should not be called a coup attempt.  Let's go to the Oxford Companion to Politics of the World, under coup d'état.  First sentence:

A nonconstitutional change of government leadership carried out with the use or threatened use of violence is known as a coup d'état.

An attempted coup, then, is an effort to change the leadership, in this case the president.  It is not entirely clear what the police thought they were going to accomplish, but ousting Correa was not obviously part of it.  Perhaps they hoped the armed forces would join in and overthrow him--if that turns out to be the case, I might change my mind.  I've seen reference to the air force, but it's not yet clear what their goal was, whether they were coordinated at all, etc.  If they just hoped to intimidate him, then it isn't good but it isn't a coup attempt.  Fortunately, the following was the case:

The head of the armed forces, Ernesto Gonzalez, said troops remained loyal to Correa. "We are in a state of law. We are loyal to the maximum authority, which is the president."

And let's hope it stays that way.

Update: FWIW, the government of Ecuador does not necessarily refer to a coup attempt, but rather to an "insubordination."  Correa himself, though, of course does.

22 comments:

otto 10:55 AM  

impressive naivete on show. You would have thought a professor of LatAm history would have studied a little on how coups work and develop historically, but no, we get a baldn definition and zero insight.

Anyway, it's you against the Unasur Heads of State...tough one!

Slave Revolt,  12:10 PM  

I wonder if and how the Ecuadoean right wing was involved with this. Does the US help fund destabilization in Ecuador as they do in Venezuela?

Interestingly, the corporate media and the "experts" in the US academy, don't seem inclined to inform the public about various nuances of this story--such as he fact that police pay has been historically miserable. Correa's reform efforts involve significantly increasing pay and implementing more egalitarian reforms.

What seems logical and likely is that Correa will come out of this event more powerful.

Another nail in he coffin of US support of deathsquad democracy.

Correa, take notes from President Chavez; the man didn't let a failed coup stop leftward momentum.

We have to thank Bush and Obama for helping this along. Getting the empire stuck in two quagmires leaves the empire in a less propitious position with respect toward installing deathsquad democracy.

Heads need to roll in Equador. And from Correa's speech last night, it appears that Correa and the left forces are prepared to take this to another level of democratic and egalitarian organization.

Suffer you stoodges and pimps for US corporate imperialism.

Julián Arévalo 1:04 PM  

I assume you are being sarcastic. You just can't be that naive. I know you are better than this.
Keep trying!d

Justin Delacour 1:08 PM  

When an acting head of state has been injured and kidnapped by organized policemen, it seems strange to me that Greg would try to downplay the gravity of the situation by moving into a discussion of semantics.

Slave Revolt,  2:09 PM  

Justin, dude, two words for you: 'remember Honduras'.

Remember the way Greg played up memes that were favorable to the US and the Honduran oligarchy--and how he excluded information that would cast US interests in a bad light.

The sins of omission and commission are part and parcel of the way the game is played among 'intellectuals' in societies hobbled by corrupt, parasitic hierarchies.

More, Justin, with respect to your debate with Leftside on 'malapportionment', I would simply interject that stability of a nation with respect to geography play a necessary role in alloting more congressional seats.

Remember, urban centers have historically worked to siphon wealth from the rural periphery.

There are many angels that one can argue these cases. They are not black and white, and one's polticial affinities and ideology play a major role in where the accent is placed. This is unavoidable.

Remember, Justin, poli-sci is actually more art than anything akin to science. The art is simply becoming intellecutally authentic and honest while securing employment.

Worst case, you could end up driving a taxi is you aren't 'artful' enough to negotiate the trecherous hierarchies.

Note: speaking of sins of omission, Greg doesn't give much attention to the on-going repression in Honduras. I saw it with my own eyes back in January. Two of my compadres are basically in hiding. That fact that they are academics will not bother Greg, to be sure. All the more reason to ignore this repression--it brings into relief our complicity with this crap.

Hasta la victoria siempre! (Greg rolls eyes...lol)

Vicente Duque 2:12 PM  

Mr Weeks :

Thanks for excellent informations and references to important articles.

Intelligence over emotions :

Juan Manuel Santos, president of Colombia, has shown extraordinary intelligence in all these events of Ecuador.

He has supported and backed Rafael Correa 100% and has called many presidents and people to support the legitimate Government of Ecuador.

Juan Manuel Santos threatened with grave sanctions if Ecuador's President was deposed by a coup. For example cutting electricity that Colombia supplies to Ecuador. And he closed the border for trade.

In view of all the Crap that Correa and friends have poured over Juan Manuel Santos, this behavior is very remarkable and shows statesmanship and intelligence over emotions.


Vicente Duque

Naco D. Carolina,  2:36 PM  

Here's a column from the Quito daily El Comercio which echoes Greg's position:

http://desdelatranquera.wordpress.com/2010/09/30/%C2%BFhubo-un-golpe-de-estado/

I have to agree that this seems like semantic hairsplitting, though. Given Ecuador's history, it's hard to see an open revolt by the police(and possibly the FAE) against the president as anything but a coup d'etat.

If they had not held Correa hostage, you could perhaps see this as a strike- a more serious one than usual, but just a strike. But when part of the security apparatus of the state detains the head of government, you've got a coup on your hands.

leftside 4:07 PM  

WOW! Thankfully I don't have to be the only one to criticize the position of our fine host this time...

I'll only add that there were clearly coordinated cheers of "Viva Lucio" throughout the cops and civillian supporters, throughout all this. This would be in reference to Lucio Guitierrez, who in 2000 was the leader of a coup d'etat attempt, which had an important similarity as we saw yesterday (taking over the National Assembly). Since re-entering ecuador in 2005, he's continued to say that he is the legitimate President of Ecuador, and denoucned his huge defeat as fraudulant - even gone so far as to form a parallel cabinet.

But yeah, for a student of Latin America, our host sort of misses the boat here. A coup does not come out and announce itself as a coup. It attempts to create chaos and hope events swing their way.

mcentellas 4:43 PM  

I still think it was a coup. Here's my rationale:

http://www.mcentellas.com/archives/2010/10/the-september-2010-ecuadorian-golpe.html

Greg Weeks 4:55 PM  

Fair enough--I went to your blog to disagree.

mcentellas 8:40 PM  

I think you also make valid points. In a strict sense of the term -- as traditionally used -- you are correct. I'm also aware of the danger of "conceptual stretching." I just wonder if we need a term that covers coups (as commonly understood) and things that fall beyond the category of a typical "protest." Perhaps it's time to expand the political lexicon?

Justin Delacour 8:56 PM  

But yeah, for a student of Latin America, our host sort of misses the boat here. A coup does not come out and announce itself as a coup. It attempts to create chaos and hope events swing their way.

Along the same lines, it seems to me that this was an attempted coup.

ConsDemo 8:57 PM  

Another nail in he coffin of US support of deathsquad democracy.

Typical bs. Every bad thing in the world is the fault of the US, yadda, yadda.

A President tries to cut pay and benefits for public employees for budgetary purposes, they respond with a violent demonstration and this is somehow a right-wing or a US plot? You better go tell all those striking public employees in Europe they are all American stooges as well!

I don't know if the rioting police were actually out to depose Correa or not but mcentellas makes a good point, if the police were hoping to use violence to force Correa to reverse his decision at the price of staying in power (albeit in a "neutered" position) it is certainly wrong, but is it technically a coup?

Justin Delacour 9:26 PM  

A President tries to cut pay and benefits for public employees for budgetary purposes, they respond with a violent demonstration and this is somehow a right-wing or a US plot?

If the police were getting signals that their actions would have support from other quarters, it could very well have been a right-wing plot.

You better go tell all those striking public employees in Europe they are all American stooges as well!

Except I don't think French trade unionists have any plans of tear-gassing and kidnapping President Sarkozy. Minor difference, I guess.

Slave Revolt,  10:11 PM  

ConsDemo, your skepticism is healthy. However,the US has on payroll Lon-time employees whose job is to undermine leftist movements that threaten US goals. They play dirty.

This could be an auto-golpe, but the bar is very high. One would have to present compelling evidence that these events were planned by Correa.

The Ecuadoran right wing coordinates strategy with the US, and it seems most likely that these events accelarated with the help of elements wanting to bring the government down and revert to the status quo ante.

This would have required significant repression, which Obama would be happy to gloss over, as with Honduras today.

ConsDemo 10:18 PM  

it could very well have been a right-wing plot.

Or it could have been a left-wing plot as Correa's action usually something leftists damn as "neoliberal." My statement was merely noting the irony of the sequence of events. In the big scheme of things, I don't know the ideology or motivation of those who rioted, but the "blame it on the US" line spouted by "Slave Revolt", Chavez (who did participate in a coup against a democratically elected government in 1992) and Morales is simply an accusation of ideological convenience, not fact.

Lucio Gutierrez, assuming he was behind this as Correa claims, isn't any right-winger either. As a politician, he was populist as well but then once in office discovered what other populists discover, it works a lot better on the campaign trail than in office. Correa seems to have stumbled across the same problem, otherwise he wouldn't have needed to try to curtail police pay and benefits.

ConsDemo 10:31 PM  

However,the US has on payroll Lon-time employees whose job is to undermine leftist movements that threaten US goals. They play dirty.

I don't claim the US historical record in Latin America is sterling but, its this kind of claim I find wanting. No evidence, simply asserted as fact, based on what? Events that took place three decades back. Sorry, there isn't any recent evidence ANY American support for deposing leaders in Latin America. Chavez likes to claim the US was instrumental in the attempted coup in 2002 but there were no American players involved. Yes, they didn't condemn it, but that isn't the same as complicity.

This would have required significant repression, which Obama would be happy to gloss over, as with Honduras today.

Good grief, either the US interferes too much or not enough. As for Zelaya, I had hoped they would have worked out a way for him to return to office and finish out his term simply for the purposes of ensuring tranquility, but he brought most of his troubles on himself. The US was under no obligation to force Honduras to restore him, besides what do you want? An invasion?

Slave Revolt,  10:38 PM  

ConsDemo, I would recommend boning up on what is happenning.

Correa significantly increased police pay, for myriad reasons.

The changes proposed have to do with some people clinging to a problematic system of promotion and bonus.

Again, Correa increased pay significantly.

You won't get the nuances if you don't dig deep and widely, if you only seek info that confirms your ingrained biases.

There is always more to the story than that which is propagated by the most powerful organizations.

As far as US involvement, the empire has larger, selfish goals, and they play dirty and for keeps.

Thesooner the US realizes that their policies create more problems than they solve, the better for all of us.

It's one earth, and it ain't flat.

Slave Revolt,  10:51 PM  

ConsDemo, well, as per your comments, they display a gross ignorance as to how covert intelligence and operations are routinely applied to our evolving history.

Covert operations are a major component of the US qua empire, qua superpower. We are the biggest thug on the block, but we are loosing respect and our ability to respond isn't as impactful as it once was.

At the core is a type of logics, economic and social, that has become a general fetter on humankind. These logics are being challenged on many fronts.

You can't expect everyone to play along with the delusions of a bully forever.

Tell uncle samto put down the crack-pipe, and take his finger off the nuclear holocaust button. There is therapy, he will be cool, browner and wiser.

It's good thing. No pain no gain.

ConsDemo 11:12 PM  

Again, Correa increased pay significantly.

First of all, a lot striking workers in Europe are have far better pay and benefits than they did five years ago, that won't stop them from opposing contemporaneous actions that they view as detrimental. Correa was trying to reduce the policemen's compensation, which one can even gleem from Telesur, the Chavez propaganda outlet, which discusses his desire to reduce police bonuses. Its my understanding that there were other benefits he wanted to curtail and I don't fault him at all. If he thinks the state can't afford to pay those kinds of benefits then he should try to curtail them. My larger point is, that, on the surface there isn't any difference in the demands of the Ecuadoran police and striking public sector workers elsewhere. You can try to spin all the anti-American conspiracy theories you want, I'll go with what I can verify, not what is ideologically convenient.

I don't see any evidence to back up the rest of your claims, its all just ideologically driven speculation.

leftside 3:29 AM  

ConsDemo, you have an outdated and inaccurate version of what it means to really be of the left. It does not mean protecting every last cent and benefit of the fortunate few Govt. or union workers. It is about giving everyone those glorious protections. (I say this as a govt. union worker who just voted to increase my health and pension contributions to save other city services).

There is no contradiction in what Correa has been doing. In addition to the police and unions, he has also not been afraid to go against the sometimes overly self-interested indigenous on things like mining. He's been showing real leadership - making difficult, but necessary decisions in the good of the nation. That is why 73% of those in the major cities support him - before the coup.

And to those who don't want to call what happened a coup - what would you call it if Obama and his entourage were roughed up by police, pelted with tear gas and held for some 10-12 hours against their will - only to be rescued by a police vs military battle in the streets of Washington DC??? If you are honest, The term coup would seem mild...

ConsDemo 10:25 AM  

ConsDemo, you have an outdated and inaccurate version of what it means to really be of the left.

Leftside, I accept that you strive for what is, in your view, solidarity to achieve the greatest good for all. I don’t doubt many others hold similar views. However, when I look at what some public employee unions do in practice, such as demanding a raise when the economy is in recession, tax receipts are falling and private sector employees are being laid off, I have to wonder if their motivations are so altruistic. How are they different than elderly tea party types who demand less government but say “don’t touch my Social Security or Medicare” in the same breath or (unfortunately large number of) people who think they are entitled to cheap fossil fuels, planet be damned.

There is no contradiction in what Correa has been doing.

While I’m not a fan of Correa, as I noted above, I don’t fault his actions vis-à-vis the police groups.

If you are honest, The term coup would seem mild...

Well, here is the first definition in dictionary.com for “coup d'état”
a sudden and decisive action in politics, esp. one resulting in a change of government illegally or by force.
I will grant you that violent actions were unjustified but the definition hangs around the intent of the police group. If they were demanding Correa resign, then I will grant you, it was an attempted coup. If they merely demanded he reverse policies they found objectionable, would you call it a coup? Do violent actions, regardless of intent, make it a coup?

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