Thursday, March 08, 2007

Bordering on Chaos

....With apologies to Andres Oppenheimer, I think Ecuador now holds claim to this state of affairs.

As of this hour (13h45), Congress, which tried to fire the President of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) only to see the TSE fire 57 of its own Diputados (see my last two posts), and then see its own building closed off (to the fired Diputados only), attempted to meet in two different Quito hotels this morning, but failed to gain a quorum, so it's now milling around in much confusion, amidst recriminations, threats, and accusations against President Rafael Correa of attempted dictatorship.

Right now (and I mean for the next hour maybe, because I have to believe the PSC/PSP/PRIAN opposition is cooking up some more substantive response; they're not going to take effective closure of the Congress lying down), it looks like Correa's in the driver's seat. He has lots of public backing because of general disillusion and cynicism regarding Congress, the traditional rightist political parties and the political system in general and he's got lots of backing with respect to his proposed pleibescite (Consulta Popular) proposing a Constituent Assembly to change the political structures of the country.

That said, there's growing unease at what appears to be an escalating confrontation between the leftist Correa and his backers, and the traditional (right-wing) parties and their backers. The country is becoming increasingly polarized along political and regional (the coast versus the sierra, once again) lines, and aside from handwringing on the part of some pols and political analysts, there does not appear to be any group or individual at this point, who is willing or able to cool things down. When Congress (or some of its members, anyway) attempted to meet a second time at a second hotel after the first, failed try, demonstrators/provacateurs from extreme left wing student groups attacked some of the Diputados, injuring one, before the cops chased them off. I hope this is not a taste of things to come, but right now, things seem to be spiraling out of control.....

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