The people of Ecuador are rising up to refound their country as a pluri-national homeland for all. This inspiring movement, with Ecuador's indigenous peoples at its heart, is part of the revolution spreading across the Americas, laying the groundwork for a new, fairer, world. Ecuador Rising aims to bring news and analysis of events unfolding in Ecuador to english speakers.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Lawmakers, police clash at Ecuador’s Congress

The Peninsular, March 14, 2007

QUITO • Fired lawmakers scuffled with police and some forced their way into Ecuador’s Congress yesterday, intensifying a feud with President Rafael Correa in the politically unstable Andean country.

One legislator suffered a back injury when he was knocked to the ground. He was carried away on a stretcher and put in an ambulance, according to a health official.

“We are in a state of emergency and we are being hunted,” fired lawmaker Gloria Gallardo told a television station from inside Congress. “Police are willing to kill lawmakers.” Police wearing gas masks thrust riot shields at legislators as tear gas clouded the air around the building.

“They hit us,” said opposition lawmaker Sylka Sanchez, who also yelled at police, “You traitors!” Dozens of Correa supporters clashed with protesters backing opposition lawmakers, kicking and punching each other.

Fifty-seven legislators have refused to accept an electoral court decision to fire them last week for seeking to reverse an earlier ruling that would allow the highly popular Correa to hold a referendum to weaken Congress’ powers.

The ousted congressmen lost another legal battle on Tuesday, when the constitutional court rejected their appeal to overturn the earlier ruling. But they were expected to continue resisting their dismissals through legal channels.

Yesterday’s violence forced Congress to suspend its sessions for a week. “The country lives a moment of political crisis and my obligation is to protect lawmakers. Congress will not hold a session,” Congress president Jorge Cevallos said.

The dispute has become the biggest challenge to the leftist’s presidency since he took office in January in a country where Congress played a pivotal role in ousting three presidents in the last decade.

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