Ecuador’s government denounced plans by the country’s right-wing opposition to overthrow the government during protests scheduled for Thursday.
The plans included the blockade of the airports of Quito and Guayaquil, the bridges located on the Colombian (Rumichaca) and Peruvian (Huaquillas) borders, while enclosing the palace of government, said Minister of Interior Jose Serrano in a press conference in the capital Wednesday.
Serrano added that opposition lawmakers Andres Paez and Lourdes Tiban coordinated a strategy with former Col. Mario Pazmiño to cause chaos during Thursday’s protests.
President Correa said Pazmiño, who was the former Chief of Military Intelligence in the Army, is “very close to the CIA.” The colonel was sacked by Correa in 2008, after he was found to have colluded in Colombia’s bombing of Ecuador.
According to the exposed plan, the protests coming from the north and south area of Quito would meet near the headquarters of the government palace.
The plan included the following:
- Multiple and concurrent attacks to break police fences
- Use of pointed sticks to break police shields, to throw balloons filled with paint for police to lose visibility, to pepper-spray police horses and dogs so they got scared
- Protesters to surround and occupy government palace
“The government believes these protests are over the inheritance and capital-gains tax but that’s not the case,” said Andres Paez, an opposition deputy who has tried to put himself at the front of the movement. “People are protesting because of the continual abuse by the president, people know this situation can’t continue.”
After eight years in office and in the midst of a boom period mainly based on high oil prices, the Correa government has had to resort to a series of economic measures to address a more-than-50% decline in oil revenue.
Ecuador is not the only country south of the U.S. border to take unpopular actions after sustained oil price drop. The Mexican Ministry of Real Estate and Public Credit (SHCP) also handed lawmakers a new plan for 2016 on Wednesday, which reduces the number of existing social programs by 22 percent – from 1,097 down to 851. The government decided to counter the drop of oil prices with cuts in public spending, a move that will affect some of Mexico’s poorest communities.
Sources: [TeleSur, Wall Street Journal, Sydney Morning Herald]