Saturday, April 16, 2005
Trouble in Quito, Ecuador
Last night, the President dismissed the Supreme Court and declared a state of emergency. Street demonstrations were the precipicating factor for the decree, but conflict has been brewing for a while.
Before being elected in 2002, Lucio Gutierrez was best known for leading a coup attempt in 2000 for which he spent 6 months in jail. In 2002, he ran on a populist-ish platform, but claimed he would respect property rights.
The pre-December 2004 Supreme Court apparently opposed many of President Gutierrez's policies. There was an aborted plan to impeach the President last November.
When the Congress dismissed all but five of the justices last December, Gutierrez had the political backing of former president Abdala Bucaram.
Most recently, the newly appointed Supreme Court has dropped corruption charges against Bucaram, which sparked last week's street protests.
In response the protests, President Gutierrez appeared on national television last night (with military officers standing directly behind him to demonstrate their support) to announce dissolution of the new Supreme Court and the declaration of a state of emergency. The state of emergency eliminates civil liberty protections.
posted by Michelle @ 2:49 PM,