Ecuador: state of exception

By October 4, 2010

Ecuador (MNN) — Ecuador's calm
shattered dramatically on Thursday with a protest that degenerated quickly into
a riot. Today, because tensions remain
high, the country remains under a "state of exception," which is expected to be
lifted tonight or tomorrow.

Multiple media reports are labeling
the revolt a "coup" attempt, although that is still in question. Graham
Bulmer is the executive director of the Latin America arm of HCJB Global, based
in Quito.

Bulmer says the problem started
when "a new law was passed by the National Assembly, and it was interpreted by
some members of the police force to restrict their benefits and pay. So a group
of police officers began a protest, and as a result of that, things

Airport shutdowns and highway
blockades quickly brought the nation to a halt. President Rafael Correa tried to dialogue with the protesters, but the
situation quickly became violent when one of the protesting police officers
threw tear gas at the president. 

Correa was rushed to a military
hospital for treatment, but once there, protesters surrounded the hospital,
trapping him inside. At least five
soldiers were wounded in the firefight at the hospital before Correa was
removed at top speed in an SUV, according to the military and Red Cross.

Once Correa was rescued, he went to
the Presidential Palace and assured the nation that the government was stable
and in control. Bulmer says that civil
authorities also affirmed their support for the government, and the chief of the national police gave his
resignation in an attempt to keep things stable.

At this stage, there are
conflicting reports on how serious the issue is. Bulmer says, "It's not clear yet whether this
was a protest against a policy or a law that the Congress had passed, or if, in
fact, there was some attempt to have a change in authority and a change in

As of Friday, the two sides were
at least talking, although the hostilities are nearly palpable. "Congress did convene a special session to
begin dialoguing, so there is still potential for misunderstandings and for
unrest," says Bulmer.

In the meantime, HCJB Global was called upon to respond. "The government came out with a national
public radio transmission, and they asked us to carry that, which we did, to keep
the entire country informed as the events unfolded," explains Bulmer. Their medical team also responded. "We received a lot of people that were
injured in our hospital." 

In terms of ministry disruption,
Bulmer didn't note anything on a large scale. Their team will continue to share the hope of Christ through its radio
and medical outreach. "Pray that calm
and peace will reign, because it's impossible for anyone to do ministry, and
it's just plain unhealthy and unsafe if there's chaos in the streets. We need to pray for the president, Rafael
Correa, that God would give him wisdom, and simply that security would permeate
all that we do down here. We need to get back to a sense of normalcy. "

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