Ecuador President Correa Says U.S. `Extreme Right' May Be Behind Protests

The “extreme right” in the U.S. may be behind recent protests in Ecuador and may have provided financial support to opposition political parties trying to destabilize the government, President Rafael Correa said.

The Obama administration, which supported Correa and called for an end to violence during a Sept. 30 police uprising, had nothing to do with the protests, Correa told reporters today at the presidential palace in Quito. The government has no evidence of ties between the protesters and U.S. groups and hasn’t accused any specific organization of involvement, Correa said.

Ecuador, South America’s seventh-biggest economy, remains under a state of emergency after police demonstrating against wage cuts trapped the president in a hospital for several hours as they demanded changes to a new public service law. Correa, who said he was the target of a coup attempt, accused former President Lucio Gutierrez and his brother Gilmar’s January 21 Patriotic Society Party, known as PSP, of fomenting the unrest that left eight people dead and 274 injured.

“The Patriotic Society and Gutierrezes are clearly behind this,” Correa told foreign journalists. Non-governmental organizations representing the “extreme right” in the U.S. may be financing opposition political parties and may have been involved in the protests, he said.

Chavez Accusations

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, in his Oct. 3 weekly column “The Lines of Chavez,” said the U.S. was behind the failed uprising in Ecuador and that the U.S. administration is supporting coups against an alliance of Latin American left-wing countries, known as the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas, or ALBA, which was formed by Chavez to counter U.S. influence in the region.

Gilmar Gutierrez, brother of Lucio Gutierrez and head of the PSP in congress, denied Correa’s accusations, saying the president was trying to eliminate his strongest political opponents.

“The accusations against us are absurd and ridiculous,” Gutierrez said today in a telephone interview from Quito. “They are pursuing innocent people. There wasn’t an attempted coup, this was a simple protest by police.”

No formal charges have been filed against either of the Gutierrez brothers, Gilmar Gutierrez said.

Correa said he will use the “victory” over the opposition to push political and economic reforms in the Andean nation, pledging today to “deepen and radicalize the citizen’s revolution.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Nathan Gill in Quito at ngill4@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Joshua Goodman at jgoodman19@bloomberg.net

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