Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Quiet Riot

It could have been worse. They could have taken up president Correa’s offer  to “come and kill me!” as he tore open his shirt to expose his chest.

We came home recently to the news that the Ecuador state police were protesting Ecuador’s President Correa. We could just imagine the picket signs and angry speeches from the podium.

Except this is South America, so “protest” by the national police actually means tear gas fired from the protestors, and apparently kidnapping him and holding him hostage. The news reported the international airport in the capital, Quito, was shut down as the apparent coup developed.

Well, this ought to make the in-laws feel loads better about a trip they aren’t crazy about to begin with. But this is South America. You can’t really blame the press from presuming a coup attempt when they see streets shut down with piles of burning tires, tear gas was fired at the president who is forced into a hospital surrounded by the national police, who were protesting…wage cuts.

So this may put into some perspective our assessment of Ecuador as a “safe and stable” place. In reality the protest impacted only the direct vicinity in Quito where the police and president were, and some places in the largest city, Guayaquil. But for the news, most Ecuadorians wouldn’t have known about the protest for another day. Ecuador goes through national leaders like Bill Clinton through dalliances, but protests and political shifts do not translate to social instability.

And so it wasn’t a coup attempt, the president was not kidnapped, and the severity of the situation seems to have been an overly eager press being played by the president who was trying to score political capital with an overblown story.

Too bad this didn’t happen just before we bought our plane tickets; could’ve got those a lot more cheaply.

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