Ecuador’s police forces played the key role in the coup attempt
Ecuador’s police forces played the key role in the coup attempt which shattered the country on September 30. The passing of a law affecting the police officers’ bonuses and job benefits became a pretext for the rebellion which erupted in the capital city of Quito and the Guayquil seaport town. Actually, the law was not supposed to entail pay reductions, but those who masterminded the coup managed to convince the police that it would and thus provoked the uprising.
The subsequent developments followed the traditional Latin American pattern: rebels created bases, set up roadblocks, and had all flights to and from Ecuador suspended. The country’s air force counting scores of US-trained officers partially sided with the police, while pilots from Venezuela who served in Ecuador in the framework of the military cooperation program were isolated.
President Rafael Correa barely escaped death when he approached the police barracks to explain the reforms personally: shooting was audible around, he was sprayed with tear gas, and, moreover, several combat grenades exploded nearby.
The president and his bodyguards took refuge in a military hospital which was promptly besieged by the rebel police forces and armed civilians evidently furnished by the opposition. The siege continued for several hours until special forces arrived and escorted Correa to the presidential palace.
Over the past several years the police of Ecuador was courted by the US Embassy which no doubt had its own interests in mind. Money from funds run by the FBI, the CIA, the DEA, and other US agencies was routinely poured into bonuses for the police top brass and operatives, equipment for various police divisions, etc. The cooperation became so cordial that occasionally the US intelligence community used Ecuador’s police and army intelligence service to keep under surveillance the country’s politicians, journalists, and others regarded as potential opponents of the US. Ecuador’s intelligence services rushed information to their US partners during the crisis that hit the country’s relations with Columbia after the latter bombed FARC camps in the territory of the former, leaving their own government blind to details of the situation.