liberal ["liberalis" L - suitable for a freeman, generous; "eleutheros" Gk - free] (adj) generous, open-minded, not subjugated to authoritarian domination; (n) one who believes in liberty, universal suffrage and the free exchange of ideas. elite ["eslire" Fr -- to choose fr.L "eligere" -- choose] (n) the choice part; best of a class; the socially superior part of society.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

It can't happen here

Ecuadoran Congress ousts President.

The interesting background information on this is that meddling with the judiciary sparked the final surge of inflammatory public upheaval against Ecuador's President Gutierrez. According to Juan Forero, writing for today's New York Times,
But it was Mr. GutiƩrrez's role in twice dismissing the Supreme Court, most recently last Friday, that helped create a firestorm he could not survive. An interim court installed by Mr. GutiƩrrez's allies had cleared former President Bucaram of corruption charges, permitting his return to Quito earlier this month.
Some democracies still insist on practicing separation of powers.
Monte Reel reported to the Washington Post from Quito yesterday that the Congress had voted to replace the President, Mr. Gutierrez, with the vice president.
But enraged mobs continued to take to the streets, burning government buildings and beating employees and politicians who tried to flee.

Apparently, the Congress didn't have much choice.

One particularly disturbing passage in the report about civil unrest in the South American country mentioned
Hundreds of people rallied outside the burning Ministry of Social Welfare building, where employees stuck their heads out of broken windows looking to escape. Many in the crowd tried to throw rocks at the employees, even as they were being rescued from smoke-filled windows by firefighters. Sporadic gunfire could be heard in the streets around the building.
My sources tell me that throwing rocks at each other is an Ecuadoran/Latin American tradition in streetfighting and civil unrest.

Over at the Independent, Andrew Gumbel writes more colorful details.
An extraordinary session of Ecuador's parliament, which convened amid the shouted slogans of tens of thousands of protesters in the streets outside, voted 60-0 to remove him. Almost as soon as the vote was complete, a helicopter carrying Mr Gutierrez and his wife, took off from the roof of the presidential palace, the Palacio Corondolet, and headed to Quito's international airport.
Gumbel, unlike Forero, suggests that Mr. Gutierrez's "fatal error was to mishandle street protests" over the Supreme Court interference. Gumbel reports that Gutierrez declared a state of emergency, suspending civil liberties, and then revoked it when protesters failed to disperse and the army didn't enforce his edicts.


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