I’ve been getting loads of people asking me how I’m doing and what the current scene is here in Quito, Ecuador after the recent coup d’état attempt by the national police last Thursday. The police, upset over a law that President Rafael Correa would potentially pass that would cut the bonuses they received once promoted, tried to allegedly take control of the government by overthrowing him.
They used tear gas, took over landing strips at the airport, blocked roads with flaming tires and apparently held the President hostage in the hospital where he fled to get treatment due to inhaling the tear gas. This is not the first time something like this has taken place in Ecuador. Three previous presidents had been pushed out before their time in office even ended. Violent protests are also not unfamiliar in South America. Numerous have been organized in Argentina – sometimes happening on a weekly basis. People should remember that protests and other attempts of taking what you want to get what you want are extremely common down here.
The chaotic scene in Ecuador pretty much ended the same day it began. After the President was rescued from the hospital by his supporters, which sadly ended with some dead in the crossfire that took place between 500 people, he gave a lengthy, passionate speech at the Presidential Palace to a massive crowd. It seemed almost movie-like: the conflict (the law), the climatic battle and hostage scene, the rescue and then the speech that left us all with a happy ending. My roommate even mentioned, “how Latin” the whole ordeal turned out to be.
The eery, quiet night in my town ended as soon as the sun rose to a beautiful morning. People were walking all over the place, acting like nothing happened. Black ash stained the road across my apartment where the tire was burning, but other than that the coup had left me unharmed. My friend and I were able to walk everywhere we needed: laundry mat, post office, lunch in Mariscal and even the supermarket (which is in a rough spot). We had no trouble and no worries.
Today, our area had turned back into a ghost town. Not because of the coup, but because it was Sunday and like every other Sunday the streets are closed so people can run, walk, or the popular activity: bicycle. The only difference this time was that there were plenty of military patrolling the streets, carrying their big rifles. None seemed too worried though, going on smiling and laughing with each other, probably because they felt comfort and security with the military personnel being present. While my friends and me were walking up the street we heard this loud
and we all jumped around with darting eyes to see where it had come from. We could see the military immediately look to find the source of the sound as well. A guy’s bicycle tire had popped and flattened. As soon as people found out they went back to normal. However, it was an eery reminder that although things are fine on the outside, deep down inside we’re all still a bundle of nerves with the recent events still fresh on our minds.