Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos reiterated his support for the Ecuadorian government following a police rebellion in the neighboring country, saying “South America is united to defend democracy.”
Santos praised the rapid response of South American leaders to Thursday’s disturbances in Ecuador, in which Quito’s airport was closed down and President Rafael Correa was trapped for several hours after police protests spiralled out of control. Correa called the events a “coup attempt.”
Heads of state from around South America met in Buenos Aires, Argentina, at an emergency UNASUR summit last night to discuss the crisis in Ecuador. The regional body released a statement strongly condemning the rebellion and emphasizing the importance of institutional order and democracy in the region.
Foreign ministers from many South American countries will travel to Ecuador immediately to show support for Correa’s government and the rule of law, according to the Buenos Aires Herald.
President Santos said that the quick response serves as a “warning” that any situations which “go against the order in any country” will be met by a strong regional response in defense of democracy.
“A reaction across the continent, from Canada to Argentina, responded quickly and strongly defending the constitutional order. I think that is a very clear and positive sign,” Santos stated in a press release.
President Correa was rescued by the army from a hospital in Quito on Thursday night, after a group of disaffected police officers held him there in protest against a new law cutting benefits and restricting salary benefits for public servants.
Ecuador had eight different presidents in the decade before Correa came to office in 2006. Correa was re-elected in 2009, but his approval ratings have slipped due to efforts to reorganize parts of the federal government.
Colombia has had a strained relationship with Ecuador following a cross-border raid on a FARC camp in Ecuadorean territory in 2008.