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Ecuadorian coup attempt — God knows?

1 October 2010

“It started in Honduras, then Ecuador…it has to stop”

Argentine Ambassador to the United States, Héctor M. Timerman (via Twitter)

The Inca has the best coverage of the attempted (and as of 22:00 Thursday night on the Pacific Coast of Mexico , apparently aborted) coup in Ecuador, with postings here, here and here.

Piecing the time-line together from the Inca, BBC and Apporea.com it appears that what happened was not a national police strike (initially reported as a military uprising), now being quashed by the military, but an attempted subversion like that in Honduras a year ago in July, that could be sold as a “constitutional” change.

As the Inca noted, and others are hinting at (and President Correa, after military commandos rescued him from the hospital where he was holed up after being tear-gassed and roughed up by mutinying police officers, is openly saying) is that disgraced and self-exiled former president Lucio Guitierrez is either the master-mind of the uprising, or is the front-man for an attempt to return Ecuador to the “neo-liberal” fold.  More likely the latter:  Machetera offers a plausible “who,” (are argument bolstered by who is remaining loyal to the elected government) though the “why” may be a bit harder to sort out.

A strike by police officers protesting changes in benefits calculations would be disruptive, and perhaps a crisis in any nation.  But, the strike was NOT about civil service benefits but an attempt to make the country ungovernable —  creating a rationale for a “constitutional” change.  As the Inca writes:

Today, speaking from Brasilia, Guitierrez called for the dissolution of parliament and a new election “to avoid bloodshed“. And thus his tips his hand. Also, his lawyer was spotted as one of the crowd of officers that stormed and cut off the transmission of Ecuador’s State TV channel tonight., which is what you call a  dead giveaway in this game. Here below is the translated money quote from Guitierrez, meanwhile Correa has just said he’ll either leave the hospital where’s he’s holed up “as President or as a cadaver”. He has a good turn of phrase, gotta be said.

“(New elections) could be the constitutional solution to avoid the possibility of bloodshed in the country”, said Guitierrez.

That is to say, that while police benefits might be a legitimate campaign issue in a future election, what Guitierrez is up to is creating a situation (or taking advantage of a situation) to force the President to call for elections during a manufactured crisis — something “constitutionally” the President of Ecuador can do.

As Ambassador Timerman almost said, “it’s deja-vu all over again”.  But it’s not only been Honduras and Ecuador where the same thing has happened.

Except for failing (or so it seems), the Ecuadorian coup isn’t all that different from what happened in Honduras in July 2009, or perhaps in Mexico in 2006.  While both Honduras and Mexico were holding scheduled elections, neo-liberals (what in the U.S. are called “Free Traders”) worked overtime to create crises.  In Honduras, apologists for the tragedy that followed were forced to somehow explain how hustling the President out of the country (still in his PJs) and installing the clown Micheletti, was a “constitutional” — and thus legitimate — response to attempts to move the social and political system away from the “neo-liberal” economic model now in place.  I’m one of those who believes the dubious results of the 2006 Presidential election in Mexico — which required a certain amount of constitutional fancy footwork — were grounded in the fear that this country might also eschew the neo-liberal economic policies that have been in place since the 1980s, replacing the earlier vaguely socialist system.

Certainly, there are economic and social forces opposed to the change and willing to use violence to prevent a change (“The Shock Doctrine“), there’s a hint that another force — one beyond our simple economic and political terms can deal with — at work here.

Lopez Obrador (who maybe should have been President), Zelaya in Honduras and Correa in Ecuador had much in common.  While Lopez Obrador was a social worker turned union organizer, Zelaya a land-owner and businessman, and Correa an economist (with a PhD from the University of Illinois, I might add), the three were also strongly rooted not so much in socialism as in Liberation Theology.  Although Lopez Obrador is thought by many to be a Protestant (and he did his early social work in Protestant indigenous communities), his coalition ticket ran under the lengthy title of “For the Good of All, First the Poor,” a quote from Liberation Theology texts.   Correa was a lay brother in the Salesian Order, working with Quecha speaking community.  Zelaya, of course, while educated by the Salesians, was originally considered a conservative, but adopted a “First the Poor” policy, and was supported by the Liberationists and Christian Base Communities during his truncated tenure as President.

I might also point out that Hugo Chavez of Venezuela and Fernando Lugo of Paraguay (both of whom faced attempted coups by the representatives of the old political/economic elites) are also from liberationist backgrounds.  Not that there is a “Great Awakening” or return to religion in the Americas (not that I can see anyway), but only that political and economic policies may not be entirely based in “rational” theory.  After all, Capitalism owes as much to John Calvin as it does to Adam Smith.

Chavez, Lugo, Zelaya, Lopez Obrador, Correa… “leftists”, “Bolivarians” or something else?  Too often, we look at the upheavals within Latin America in terms of “left” and “right” — or, perhaps, “Bolivarian” and “Monrovian” or “neo-liberal” and “21st Century Socialism” when we may be dealing with a more profound vision of the political as human than our labels allow.

22 Comments leave one →
  1. machetera permalink
    1 October 2010 7:19 am

    Don’t leave out Aristide, the liberation theologist priest. The “avoid bloodshed” phrase is another eerie reminder – straight from the resignation letter prepared for Aristide to sign as he was being hustled to the airport.

    • 2 October 2010 10:58 pm

      I’m sorry I did… and a “thank you” for yet another example of a Liberationist labeled a “leftist” and the victim of an apparent pattern of U.S. inspired destabilization.

    • 18 September 2011 8:09 am

      I might also point out that Hugo Chavez of Venezuela and Fernando Lugo of Paraguay (both of whom faced attempted coups by the representatives of the old political/economic elites) are also from liberationist backgrounds. Not that there is a “Great Awakening” or return to religion in the Americas (not that I can see anyway), but only that political and economic policies may not be entirely based in “rational” theory. After all, Capitalism owes as much to John Calvin as it does to Adam Smith.

  2. 1 October 2010 5:23 pm

    Interesting post. I couldn’t find any information about the coup attempt online yesterday and ended up watching streaming video online from Venezuela. It’s sad that Latin America has such a history of golpes usually with a little push from the US. Or big push…however it may be. But it’s apparent to me that someone besides just a bunch of policemen had to be behind it. It was obviously coordinated and they knew what they were doing.

  3. 2 October 2010 12:08 pm

    thank for this post

  4. Brian Washington permalink
    2 October 2010 1:24 pm

    I’ve read that off-the-shelf privitised covert ops also accelerated during the Carter Administration. Though I would posit Carter much farther to the left than Obama. With the majority of the band-wagon (or should I say “brand”-wagon) Obama supporters still pacified, the Obama FBI has been able to easily reinstate Nixon Era COINTELPRO without so much as a peep frm the “lamestream” liberals in the USA who don’t know the difference btwn liberal democracy and neoliberalism .

    http://antifascist-calling.blogspot.com/2010/09/fbi-raids-activists-homes-in-sinister.html

  5. 2 October 2010 8:33 pm

    They started setting Correa up late last year and early this year. He has been all over the financial mags but hasn’t been in the corporate press one iota. The French slapped him on a terror list… this has been in the works for some time.

  6. 3 October 2010 1:57 am

    To me it’s wonderfull how you offer such a post for free. Thanks for sharing.

    Best regards to all

  7. Giovanni Narvaez permalink
    3 October 2010 10:08 am

    I think we are blessed to live in this century where so many changes had taken place. South America and Africa aren’t poor continents by choice. There are many powers interested on keeping them down. The most important change will come when third world countries achieve real independence.

    • Pat Brennan permalink
      5 October 2010 12:10 am

      Speaking of Latin America and Africa I could never understand why, with their natural resources they have always been such relatively poor continents as compared with Europe and North America. The Left would say its because they are being kept poor and exploited for the good of the rich nations. That does not seem plausible for any reason at all. None.

      I personally think it is that they do not have a free market Capitalist system in place. And the people are exploited more by their own upper class than any outsiders.

      Where am I wrong.

  8. 5 November 2010 11:46 am

    I vote for your big hard work.

  9. 3 March 2011 12:29 am

    Thank you Y8 games friend.

  10. 6 August 2011 11:54 am

    Interesting post. I couldn’t find any information about the coup attempt online yesterday and ended up watching streaming video online from Venezuela. It’s sad that Latin America has such a history of golpes usually with a little push from the US.

  11. 6 August 2011 11:56 am

    Don’t leave out Aristide, the liberation theologist priest.

  12. 9 August 2011 3:05 am

    Great articles! Thanks for sharing.

  13. 6 September 2011 8:19 pm

    Yes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  14. 21 March 2012 7:42 pm

    I personally think it is that they do not have a free market Capitalist system in place. And the people are exploited more by their own upper class than any outsiders.

  15. 21 March 2012 7:49 pm

    The most important change will come when third world countries achieve real independence. i thinks so

  16. 21 March 2012 7:50 pm

    Nice post, thanks for sharing with it us, i like it. thanks again

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  1. Tweets that mention Ecuadorian coup attempt — God knows? « The Mex Files -- Topsy.com
  2. Ecuadorian coup attempt — God knows? (via The Mex Files) « The Altered States of Munley
  3. Attempted Coup In Ecuador « The Mustard Seed

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