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Coup declared in Ecuador: BBC News report

  CBC.CA News   Canadian Broadcasting Corporation

   CBC Front Page   Ecuador's vice-president takes power
                    WebPosted Sat Jan 22 10:41:04 2000

                    QUITO, ECUADOR - Ecuador's
        Indepth »   vice-president says he will assume the
      Viewpoint »   presidency. Gustavo Noboa says he has
       Programs »   the support of the armed forces and the
           Live »   national police.

         Business   Widespread demonstrations against
                    President Jamil Mahuad's handling of the
                    country's economic crisis forced him to
           Sports   step down. Mahuad left the presidential
                    palace after huge protests in the
          Weather   capital on Friday.

                    Mahuad abandoned
    Entertainment   the palace and
                    went into hiding hours after an
             Kids   attempted coup led by the Confederation
                    of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador,
                    which claims to represent Ecuador's four
        Consumers   million Indians, and supported by the
                    military. He refused a request from the
   Local Features   head of the armed forces to resign.

                    Thousands of protesters arrived in Quito
      Interactive   earlier this week demanding a "popular
                    government" be established. On Friday,
          Program   they filled the streets and stormed
         Websites   Congress and the Supreme Court,
                    declaring their own Parliament of the

                    They say they've suffered because of
       Inside CBC   government corruption and economic
                    mismanagement. They said a plan by
                    Mahuad to adopt the U.S. dollar as the
       Millennium   country's currency will impoverish them

   Search News:     The country's worst economic crisis
                    sparked the coup attempt.

                    Last year, inflation was over 60 per
     Radio-Canada   cent, the highest in Latin America,
                    while unemployment soared even higher.
   Privacy Policy   Only one out of every three workers has
                    a job.

      Copyright © 2000 CBC    All Rights  Reserved

  CBC.CA News

  CBC Front Page Ecuadorean military chief declares new government

  Carlos Mendoza, right, addresses the crowd at the Ecuadorean
  Palace Balcony, while Enrique Monteverde Chief of Navy Force
  looks on. (AP/Silvi

  QUITO, Ecuador (AP) - Ecuador's military chief announced late
  Friday a three-person junta to replace the unpopular president,
  who fled after a by Indians and backed by the armed forces.

  President Jamil Mahuad insisted he would not resign - but he
  abandoned the palace where he worked and lived in the afternoon
  after refusing a r  the military high command to step down.

  Speaking in the name of the junta, Gen. Carlos Mendoza, the
  head of the joint military command who was named defense
  minister last week, said: government of the Ecuadorean people.
  We cannot speak of left or right."

  Shortly before midnight the three members of the junta emerged
  from a meeting at the national palace to present themselves to
  the news media as new leaders. In addition to Mendoza, the
  members are Antonio Vargas, leader of an Indian federation that
  organized the protests, and Carlos Sol former Supreme Court judge.

  Thousands of people streamed onto the plaza in front of the
  national palace, mingling with soldiers in combat gear and
  celebrating, some waving of an extreme-left party.

  It was a day of political chaos, with Indians demanding Mahuad's
  resignation and forcing their way into Congress and the Supreme
  Court. After f Mahuad, the military later in the day decided to
  support the protest, saying it was the only way to prevent "a
  social explosion."

  Mahuad had insisted he would not step down, saying during a
  nationwide television broadcast that anyone who wanted to
  overthrow him would have   force. Late Friday, Interior Minister
  Vladimiro Alvarez said in a television interview that "the
  president has no intention of leaving the coun

  Ecuador's economic woes appear to have led to the unusual Indian
  uprising. Last year, inflation reached 60 percent, the highest
  in Latin America  one in three in the labor force has full-time
  work. A vast majority of the nation's 4 million Indians live in

  At an emergency meeting of the Organization of American States
  in Washington, Ecuador's ambassador, Patricio Vivanco, said
  Mahuad had abandoned presidential palace in Quito and taken
  refuge at a military base in the city.

  The OAS unanimously adopted a resolution condemning the attempt
  to overthrow the government and expressed full support for

  South American leaders also lined up in support of Mahuad,
  issuing statements condemning attempts to oust him. A statement
  issued by the U.S. E    Lima, Peru, urged Ecuador's armed forces
  and police to uphold Mahuad.

  "Whatever regime arises from this unconstitutional process will
  confront political and economic isolation, bringing more misery
  to the Ecuador  the statement said.

  Earlier in the day in Quito, guards stepped aside when hundreds
  of Indians accompanied by an unknown number of military officers
  stormed an emp    building, seized the podium and announced that
  they had created their own "Parliament of the People." Military
  leaders said 120 officers were i   the rebellion, along with an
  undetermined number of troops.

  While downtown Quito during the day was in chaos - with Indians
  armed with rocks and clubs paralyzing traffic and menacing
  pedestrians - most o    and much of the city seemed unfazed and
  Mahuad said he had no intention of stepping down.

  "I am not going to abandon you," Mahuad, 50, said his nationwide
  television broadcast, his only public appearance of the day.

  "If you want to take power through force, gentlemen, take power
  through force," he said, directing his comments to the military
  high command, w      few minutes before had asked him to resign.

  Later, Mahuad left the national palace with close aides and was
  being protected by several military officers.

  The actions by the armed forces seemed more a result of their
  growing impatience with Mahuad's inability to handle the Indian
  rebellion, which         month of broader protests. They backed
  the attempted takeover mainly to prevent "a social explosion,"
  said Gen. Carlos Mendoza, who was joint m
  commander until becoming defense minister last week.

  "We are conscious that we must maintain order and discipline in
  the country," he said.

  Two men were killed and eight were wounded by gunfire during
  protests and looting in Quito, Guayaquil, and two smaller cities,
  the Red Cross sa       men who were killed were shot by merchants
  while allegedly looting a public market in Portoviejo.

  Earlier in the day in Guayaquil, 165 miles southwest of the
  capital, a group of leftist-led unions, student organizations and
  neighborhood asso       seized the provincial government building.

  The protesters are also upset about Mahuad's plans to scrap
  Ecuador's currency for the dollar.

  In becoming the first South American country seeking to adopt the
  greenback, Ecuador was hoping to curb inflation, bring down
  interest rates to        and spur investment to end the country's
  deep recession.

  Critics contended that Mahuad's decision to establish the
  conversion rate at 25,000 sucres to the dollar would have
  devastating repercussions f        thousands of Ecuadoreans whose
  savings are in sucres. A year ago, the sucre was valued at 7,000
  to the dollar.

  The vast majority of Ecuador's Indians live in the Andean
  highlands and speak Quichua, a dialect of the language spoken by
  the Incas.

    Copyright ©        2000 CBC     All Rights  Reserved

    © The Canadian Press, 2000

Date: Sat, 22 Jan 2000 15:46:06 +0800
From: "Brian Jenkins" <>
Subject: [Ecuador] Coup declared

BBC News report

Saturday, 22 January, 2000, 06:28 GMT

Coup declared in Ecuador

The head of the armed forces in Ecuador has announced the formation of a
three-man council to take over the running of the country from President
Jamil Mahuad.

The military chief, General Carlos Mendoza said it would be made up of
himself, indigenous Indian leader Antonio Vargas, and former supreme
court judge Carlos Solorzano.

He made the announcement at a news conference in the capital, Quito,
after holding talks with indigenous protesters at the presidential

General Mendoza said: "We will work to help the country, we will work
against corruption and so that we are less poor."

He said he had the full support of the armed forces and promised full
freedom for the country of 12.4 million people.

At the same time, he said he did not know the whereabouts of President
Mahuad, who has not officially resigned and was last reported to have
taken refuge at a military base with his ministers.

  Defiant: President Jamil Mahuad

One report, quoting Antonio Vargas, said the president had been detained
at Quito international airport. There has been no confirmation of this.

The junta says it plans to remove the state of emergency imposed by
President Mahuad and hold elections as soon as possible.

Mr Mahuad had earlier left the palace after announcing that he would not
bow to demands for his resignation.

Thousands of Indian protesters surrounded the building as calls
intensified for him to step down.

Indians draped in Ecuadoran flags held a candlelit vigil outside the
palace, which was being guarded by heavily armed troops.

Stormed parliament

Indian protesters sparked the power struggle by storming parliament on
Friday and declaring a new government.

They say they have no faith in President Mahuad's ability to turn around
the country's worst recession in decades.

A military unit that joined the protesters stood aside to allow some
1,500 demonstrators into the empty building before joining the

Salvador Quishpe, president of an Indian group that has been part of the
protest, said: "We believe the armed forces' role has been crucial for
this process of purification."

President Mahuad left the presidential palace - reportedly in an
ambulance and with an armed escort - insisting he would not be forced
from power.

He was driven to a military base and was reported to be under the
protection of soldiers loyal to his administration.

In a speech to the nation, he insisted that he remained in control and
he challenged his opponents to stage a coup if they want power.

He said: "In their ambition and lack of respect for democracy in
Ecuador, the armed forces are trying to mount a coup d'etat. I call on
the people to oppose this coup."

Looting and burning

Violence broke out in other parts of Ecuador as the protests spread.

An Ecuadoran radio station reported that one person was killed and three
others were injured in clashes in Portoviejo, about 240km (160 miles)
southwest of the capital Quito.

And in Guayaquil, the country's business capital, looters fought with
police and set fire to cars.
Television pictures showed a rampaging crowd of about 300 people raiding
shops as outnumbered police looked on helplessly.

President Mahuad's grip on power has been faltering in the face of the
growing protests.

Indigenous Indians, who make up nearly half the population of Ecuador,
have been particularly hard hit by the recession.

In recent months, the economy has floundered with runaway inflation, a
currency crisis and falling exports.
A plan by President Mahuad to replace the Ecuadoran sucre with the US
dollar has been rejected by Indian groups.

The Indians have also ruled out Vice President Gustavo Noboa as a
replacement for Mr Mahuad.

Mr Noboa, who travelled to Quito from Guayaquil late on Friday, said he
was ready to assume the country's presidency. He vowed to defend
democracy and civil order.

Countries across Latin America are watching the uprising in Ecuador with

Many governments in the region have publicly supported President Mahuad,
while the United States warned that a successful coup attempt would mean
economic and political isolation for Ecuador.

The Organization of American States gave its "full and determined
backing" to Mr Mahuad and "firmly" condemned efforts to oust him.

* * * *

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      "They should confiscate all the stolen goods"
       held by the banks, he said.

                      The Globe and Mail, Toronto

                      Ecuador's leader detained
                      in Quito, military chief says

                      President toppled as three-man council forms
                      new governing body in Andean country

                      PAUL KNOX
                      The Globe and Mail; With reports from AP,
                      Reuters and AFP
                      Saturday, January 22, 2000

                      Ecuadorean President Jamil Mahuad has been
                      detained at a military airbase in Quito, the
                      leaders of the coup that toppled him
                      announced late last night.

                      The top military chief Carlos Mendoza said
                      today yesterday that a three-member council
                      has taken over leadership of the Andean
                      country and replaced Mr. Mahuad, who had
                      said earlier that he would not resign.

                      Indian leader Antonio Vargas, former
                      supreme court judge Carlos Solorzano and
                      Mendoza, head of the military's joint
                      command, will make up the new ruling body,
                      the three said in a news conference at the
                      government palace.

                      Yesterday, Mr. Mahuad refused to step
                      down, but a security guard at the government
                      palace in the capital, Quito, said he had had
                      left the presidential palace in an ambulance,
                      surrounded by four security vehicles.

                      Mr. Mahuad's supporters said he had left the
                      presidential palace for a safer place. "The
                      President of the republic is well, and
                      accompanied by a number of his ministers,
                      myself included, in a gesture of loyalty,"
                      Interior Minister Vladimiro Alvarez said.

                      Meanwhile, 1,500 Indian protesters continued
                      to hold out in the congress and supreme court
                      buildings in the capital, backed by radical
                      military officers. The indigenous group had
                      touched off the crisis earlier in the day by
                      pushing past army guards and occupying the

                      Mr. Vargas and Colonel Lucio Gutierrez led
                      the occupation, and then obtained the support
                      of the head of the army's War School,
                      Colonel Fausto Cobo.

                      "We're here to end the looting [by the
                      government] and to support a just cause by
                      our indigenous comrades," Col. Cobo said.
                      The three said they had formed a provisional
                      junta to rule the oil-producing nation of 12

                      A lieutenant-colonel who asked not to be
                      identified said the high command did not want
                      to seize power, but was asking Mr. Mahuad
                      to let Vice-President Gustavo Noboa take
                      over as president.

                      "This is lamentable, but there was no other
                      way," the officer said.

                      He said military commanders were seeking to
                      force the country's notoriously argumentative
                      politicians to agree on an emergency plan to
                      halt soaring inflation and economic paralysis.

                      "They want the politicians to find a more
                      healthy solution," the officer said.

                      He spoke by telephone from Quito, pausing
                      often before replying to questions.

                      Marc Hélie, a principal of the New
                      York-based Gramercy Emerging Markets
                      Fund, who represents foreign holders of
                      Ecuadorean bonds, said Mr. Mahuad's
                      resignation could help the country.

                      Mr. Hélie, a Canadian with an MBA from
                      York University, played a role in Ecuador's
                      current economic crisis this month by calling in
                      the debt that his investment firm held in
                      high-interest bonds, a move that confounded
                      the country's financial restructuring plans.

                      "The fact that there are protests that may lead
                      to the resignation of the government is not
                      necessarily a bad thing if the government has
                      been impotent in addressing the issues," he

                      In Washington, a U.S. official said the
                      demand for Mr. Mahuad's resignation
                      amounted to an attempted coup d'état, and
                      said his government condemned it.

                      Also in Washington, an emergency session of
                      the Organization of American States
                      unanimously condemned the rebellion last
                      night. OAS representatives expressed "full
                      and firm" support for Mr. Mahaud and
                      warned there would be "grave consequences
                      in any attempt to destabilize the democratic

                      Earlier yesterday, top military commanders
                      had said they were backing Mr. Mahuad,
                      who took office 18 months ago. His popular
                      support has been steadily eroding since early
                      last year.

                      But Gen. Mendoza, the Defence Minister and
                      armed forces chief, emerged in midafternoon
                      from a meeting with the President and said:
                      "We are asking that he resign."

                      The lieutenant-colonel said the switch
                      occurred because protesters had seized
                      government buildings in other cities, and it was
                      felt that the crisis could not be solved as long
                      as Mr. Mahuad stayed in office.

                      The buildings seized included the provincial
                      government headquarters in Guayaquil, a
                      Pacific Ocean port and Ecuador's largest city.

                      Indigenous groups from throughout Ecuador
                      have staged mass demonstrations in Quito all
                      week, demanding action on
                      60-per-cent-a-year inflation and other

                      Inside the congress building, former
                      congressman Napoleon Saltos read a
                      communiqué saying the insurgents had formed
                      a governing council including Mr. Vargas,
                      Col. Gutierrez and Judge Solorzano.

                      "We ask the honourable people of Ecuador to
                      accompany us," Col. Gutierrez said in a
                      television interview from inside the chamber.

                      Military sharpshooters took positions on
                      rooftops looking down on the two
                      government buildings, and about 10,000
                      protesters massed outside.

                      The lieutenant-colonel said he knew Col.
                      Gutierrez, but had no idea that he would
                      participate in an insurrection.

                      "They've just left us all surprised," he said,
                      adding that about 200 officers were inside the
                      congress building.

                      Army officers were indignant about what they
                      saw as Mr. Mahuad's kid-gloves treatment of
                      the owners of banks that failed and were
                      taken over by the government last year, the
                      lieutenant-colonel said. "They should
                      confiscate all the stolen goods" held by the
                      banks, he said.

  | Copyright © 2000 Globe Information Services |

  Bob Olsen adds that the uprising is led by CONAIE

  Confederation of Indigenous Peoples of Ecuador (CONAIE)

  Comprehensive and up-to-date reports on the rebellion
  in Equador in English, German and French, see

  Most up to date, English only

    Bob Olsen, Toronto

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