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Ecuador: Bloggers Try to Make Sense of Chaos Caused by Police Strike

Uncertainty still reigns in Ecuador. Even though President Correa was rescued from the Hospital where he was being held –as Global Voices previously reported–, protest by the police force are still taking place, no changes have been made to the law of public service and nobody knows the level of punishment the unruly cops will receive. What is certain is that Fausto Franco was appointed as the new Police Chief, and that as a result of the events on September 30, 8 people were killed and 278 injured [es]. Among them was a university student, Juan Pablo Bolaños [es].

President visits army colonel Vicente Guzman, a loyal officer injured during Wednesday night's rescue. Photo by Santiago Armas, used under CC license.

Global Voices recently offered reports from Twitter [es]. From noon until 9 PM on September 30, Ecuadorians had no other means of information than the Internet and official [es] channels [es].

Blogger Daniel Ochoa [es], as many other Ecuadorians, believes that there were no winners on September 30. He comments on the levels of sensitivity he noticed in President Correa:

Como ser humano me vi conmovido cuando lanzaron botellas y bombas lacrimógenas al presidente, incluso cuando habló desde el hospital se lo escuchaba quebrantado, denunciando que hay gente que se quiere meter a su habitación para agredirlo. En momentos de emoción y euoforia decía “De aquí salgo como presidente o como cadaver” y en otros momentos de quebranto emocional, donde parecía que estaba a punto de llorar, decía “Amo a Ecuador y amo a mi familia”.

As a human being I was touched when they threw bottles and tear gas at the president, when he spoke from the hospital he sounded broken, claiming that there are people who want to enter the room and attack him. In moments of excitement and euphoria, he said “From here I leave as the president or as a corpse” and at other times of emotional breakdown, where it seemed he was about to cry, he said “I love Ecuador and I love my family.”

Blogger Fatima Efigenia coincides with opposition leader Carlos Vera (see video [es]) on the fact that the goal of the police officers involved was not to kidnap, but worse, to assassinate President Correa [es]. She writes [es] that their intention was to weaken their ties to human rights violations [es] and fight for their labor benefits.

Juan Cabrito in his mini-blog [es] considers that, contrary to what some still think, it wasn't unwise of Correa to face the police and try to negotiate with them. The issue was the bonuses and not the unpaid wages, something very common in Ecuador:

¿Ya se habrán olvidado de cuando los médicos (sí ¡los médicos!) paralizaban la atención por protestar por su sueldo impago? ¿Ya se olvidaron de el retraso para comenzar las clases por el paro de los profesores impagos? Quisiera recalcar la palabra IMPAGO. Hoy YA NO PASAN ESAS COSAS, pero l@s giles se olvidan. Y no les importó que esta vez no era una protesta por falta de pago, sino por dinero adicional al sueldo, ese sueldo que no solo que ahora sí reciben como se debe, sino que se incrementó.

Have you forgotten when doctors (yes the physicians!) paralyzed hospital attention to protest about their unpaid wages? Have you forgotten about the delay to start classes because of the strike by unpaid teachers? Let me stress the word UNPAID. Today THOSE THINGS DON'T HAPPEN ANYMORE, but idiotic people forget. And they didn't care that this time it wasn't a protest because of nonpayment, but to add extra money to their salary, that salary that they not only receive as they should, but that was also increased.

The incident changed the views some Ecuadorians had about the “Citizen Revolution,” so proclaimed by Correa. Blogger Pitoniza put it this way: “I hope the president will read this and note that his most fervent supporters are disappointed about the XXI Century Socialism. That this is worse than the long neoliberal night.” A comment on her blog [es] suggests the police took action based on misinformation:

Ahora recuerdo tambien que muchos politicos de la oposicion imprimieron papeles con tergiversaciones de la ley para distribuir a los miembros de la tropa policial. Porque no se los condena por incendiarios?..Porque asambleistas de MDG,PSC y demas pidieron amnistia para estos delincuentes?…. el culpar a Correa y quejarse por la intromision de canales y olvidar el papel de asambleistas criminales y policias irresponsables es sencillamente injusto

Now I also remember that many politicians from the opposition printed papers with misrepresentations of the law to be distributed among members of the police troops. Why are they not convicted for spreading incendiary information? ..Why are the MDG-PSC Assembly members and others requesting amnesty for these criminals? …. to blame Correa and complain about the intrusion of TV channels and forget the role of criminal assembly members and irresponsible police is simply unfair.

Doubts about the “coup attempt”

Throughout the incident, the president had the support of the military [es] and police officers in the highest ranks. Even when he was being held in the Police Hospital in the north of Quito –two physicians denied that he was being held [es]–, he could receive visitors and was able to declare a state of emergency which required that the media only broadcast government information.

As every Saturday, yesterday Correa held his national radio broadcast. He declared three days of mourning [es] to honor those who died on Wednesday, and according to @donalddallan Correa was grateful to the loyal forces and all three branches of the Ecuadorian Army. But one thing caught the attention of some Twitter users like Pablo Escandon (@pabloescandon), who wrote that it is strange that this time President Correa had kind words for the members of the press. While Gabriela Vivanco (@VivancG) re-tweets a post by ecuavisa.com where Correa changes his discourse and now says the police wanted a “civil war.”

The origin of the police uprising points to other reasons beyond bonuses and benefits, according to Romulo Lopez Cordero from Cambiemos Ecuador [es], who also chronicles the events that took place throughout September 30. He presents two theories:

La primera es que esto fue un evento manejado de manera maestra por Rafael Correa (como hasta ahora lo ha hecho) y que lo fortalece una vez más.  Un genio de la política [...]  Lamentablemente fallaron los intentos policiales y no tuvieron mayor acogida en los grupos de la oposición y el gobierno pues está en lo correcto que tienen inmenso apoyo popular. La oposición no estaba informada y no tuvieron el valor de unirse y Correa manejó de manera maestra para hacer que ellos sean los culpables y lo de la policía fue un hecho aislado o de pocos que les faltó talento político.

Lo segundo es que aqui hay burra amarrada como dicen en Ecuador, y todo fue un teatro orquestado por el gobierno para ganar popularidad en momentos en que no lo tenían para llamar a muerte cruzada.

The first is that this event was handled masterfully by Rafael Correa (like he has done up to now) and that it will once again strengthen him. A genius of politics [...] Unfortunately the police attempts failed and didn't receive a major welcome from opposition groups and the government is right that it has huge public support. The opposition was not informed about it and didn't have the courage to join and Correa handled the situation in a masterful way to make them look guilty and the police issue look like an isolated event by a few that lacked political talent.

The second [theory] is that there is a tied mule as they say in Ecuador, and everything was an act orchestrated by the government to gain popularity in a moment when they didn't have it in order to call for a ‘muerte cruzada’ [which means, dissolving the National Assembly and calling for legislative elections].

Knowing the President didn't want to leave the hospital in two occasions, two of his physicians can not confirm that he was really being held against his will. Furthermore, after listening to the president so much, Ecuadorians are starting to doubt Correa's words. Dunia Ruiz Romero (@dunniar) strongly believes that there was no kidnapping of the President involved. Patricio Aguilera (@darkaguilera) also wrote on Twitter:

Sigo creyendo que todo lo pasado ayer fue un gran teatro y asi #Correa tener pretexto para hacer y deshacer con mas razon las leyes. pilas

I still believe that everything that happened yesterday was a big act and that way #Correa has the excuse to do and undo laws. Clever guy

Blogger Segundo Galarza from Cronicas de Palmogala [es], who favored Correa with his vote, believes the President should have shown more sensitivity in handling the situation; he is the leader of a country with different ideologies and not the leader of a single political party:

…El presidente del Ecuador, el cual yo recuerdo le di el voto, para que sea presidente de la república, y no presidente de un movimiento político, su ideología no debe primar en una cuestión tan delicada como la seguridad de todo el país, algunos lo celebran, que puso el pecho, que se arriesgo la vida pero supo hacer valer su ideología, grave error!! Ecuador no debe vivir de ideologías, debe vivir de soluciones pragmáticas que garanticen nuestra estabilidad.

…The president of Ecuador, which I remember I gave my vote to for president of the republic, not president of a political movement, his ideology should not prevail on an issue as sensitive as security across the country, some celebrate it, that he showed his chest, that he risked his life but knew how to assert his ideology, big mistake!! Ecuador should not live by ideologies, it should live out of pragmatic solutions that ensure our stability.

Ecuadorians are tired of hearing about the incident and of listening to the declarations by their President [es]. Two Twitter users expressed their feelings three days after that sad day in Ecuadorian history –and they are not very optimistic: Victor Vizcaino (@victorvizcaino) writes that he feels like a pessimist and that he can't see a clear future in his country; and Juan Fernando Pacheco (@fernandopacheco) says he was ready to watch the Saturday address by his President, “but I can't watch so many lies together.”

Despite these doubs, Ecuadorians are happy that their democracy survived the events of September 30.

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