A military junta is now controlling Ecuador following a week of violence, labour unrest and political tension culminating in President Guillermo Rodriguez Lara losing control of the government.
SV Helmeted troops PAN TO Presidential palace
SV Man entering palace door
CUs General Lopez talking to newsmen (4 shots)
GV Ministry of Education building
SV Minister of Education leaving building surrounded by people and entering car (4 shots)
SV Fire in road (2 shots)
SVs Students on trucks en route to demonstration (2 shots)
CU Girl walking past PAN TO demonstration on road
CU & GV Leader talking to demonstrators (2 shots)
SV Demonstrators walking along road
SV Armed police throwing tear gas at running demonstrators (4 shots)
GV Crowd running
MV Plain clothes policemen throwing rocks at demonstrators
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Background: A military junta is now controlling Ecuador following a week of violence, labour unrest and political tension culminating in President Guillermo Rodriguez Lara losing control of the government.
A three-man military junta took power peacefully in Ecuador on Sunday (11 January) and declared a state of siege, promising to hand over to civilian rulers at the end of 1977.
A small crowd waited outside the Presidential Palace to watch the commanders of the three armed forces formally take possession of the seat of government. They are Navy Chief Vice-Admiral Alfredo Burbano, Army Commander General Guillermo Duran Arcentales and Air Force Chief General Luis Franco.
Police meanwhile ordered a radio station off the air for 30 minutes for broadcasting a communique from General Gustavo Vasconez, a former government minister, which attacked the army commander.
The military takeover followed a week of violence in the capital, Quito. Student protest riots against higher bus fares paralysed public transport in the capital and in Guayaquil, the country's main port.
Shops and businesses shut down as the roving student bands stoned all buses in sight and set up street barricades in protest at a 20 per cent increase in fares authorised by President Lara. Bombs exploded in three parked and empty buses in Quayaquil. The government shut down secondary schools and universities for the 48 hours to avert further incidents.
The riots, combined with increasing military tension, led to the resignation of the entire Ecuadorian cabinet of eleven. The cabinet's resignation was kept secret for a week and finally revealed by General Bolivar, Lopez, Secretary-General to the Government.
Three days later, the military junta took power from the 52-year-old President, who seized power in 1972 from elected President Josemaria Velasco Ibbarra and crushed an army rebellion last September.
SYNOPSIS: A week of violence, labour unrest and political tension has led to a takeover by a three-man military junta in Ecuador. At the Presidential Palace, President Guillermo Rodriguez Lara was forced to resign on Sunday.
The first indication of the seriousness of the political tension came on Friday when General Bolivar Lopez, Secretary-General to the Government, revealed that the entire Ecuadorian Cabinet had resigned a week earlier.
Only two ministers opposed the military junta. One was Education Minister General Gustavo Vasconez. Following the coup, General Vasconez attacked the army commander in a radio broadcast. Police ordered the station off the air. The General was subsequently sacked from the army.
Students in the capital Quito brought transport services to a halt in riots protesting against increased fares. But the riots reflected general uneasiness with the political and economic situation.
Shops and businesses closed as roving student bands stoned all buses in sight and set up street barricades in protest at the twenty per cent fare increases authorised by President Lara. Armed police were called out to control demonstrators and used tear gas to do it.
The government closed secondary schools and universities to avoid further violence. Several students were wounded, both in Quito and in the port city of Quayaquil.
The takeover by the heads of the army, navy and airforce, was peaceful. But in a break with the traditions of more than fifty coups in Ecuador, the country's new rulers did not take formal possession of the palace at once.