[USA tries to undermine social democrats in Ecuador. –NP]
At least 15 police hurt as thousands rally in Ecuador
by Paola Lopez
Quito (AFP) – At least 15 officers were wounded and multiple arrests were reported in Quito as thousands gathered for rallies for and against leftist President Rafael Correa, officials said.
Union and opposition groups that included indigenous people, students and doctors gathered to protest a spate of government initiatives, in a march that filled tens of city blocks, organizers reported.
Meanwhile, 4,000 pro-government demonstrators headed a call by Correa and convened in front of the presidential palace in Quito’s downtown, according to police.
Security-force members were pelted with stones in the capital’s south, but none was in critical condition, Major Henry Ponce, spokesman for the Ecuadoran police, told AFP.
Interior Minister Jose Serran said on television that there were “15 wounded police, some with broken noses and female police with wounds on their faces.”
Although authorities did not say how many protesters were arrested, El Comercio daily reported “more than 72” detained.
Speaking to his followers, Correa, in power since 2007, accused opposition protesters of trying to destabilize the government in conjunction with the “international right.”
For his part, Correa, an economist by training, ruled out any dialogue with the demonstrators, defending what he says are his government’s achievements.
Among a variety of grievances, however, the anti-government demonstrators protested a constitutional amendment to ban presidential term limits, as well as draft labor legislation that unions fear will restrict their right to strike.
The demonstrations spread to other cities including Guayaquil and Portoviejo in the south and Santo Domingo in the east.