Saturday, October 2, 2010

The Thursdays of almost coups...

Let me just begin by saying that this was not on my bucket list.
On Thursday morning I was sitting in my Ecuadorian Culture class where we were discussing Ecuador's crazy history of presidents and leaders, many of which were ousted by the people. We began discussing recent developments in the government and things that were being voted upon and discussed in the present. Our professor said that it would be very possible to see strikes against decisions made involving education and workers' benefits. However, we really thought nothing of it. After all, we receive Embassy emails almost weekly of some kind of protest. Yet, at that very moment the door opened and a student told us that they were canceling classes for the remainder of the day due to a revolt in Quito. Everyone was supposed to go directly home. And I wanted to say to him, "Muchacho, what timing! Impeccable!"
No, it was not part of the class and it was not a joke. As my friends and I were trying to exit the university, they stopped us and told us that it was not even safe for us to leave. We had to stay because things were so dicey in Quito and they were not sure we would be able to make it to our residences. However, after a few hours they said that transportation was running somewhat and that we better try to get home now before things turn worse. So we made our way to Quito carefully not sure what we would find. We found everything closing down. Some of us stayed together until we had to split up to take different buses; however, we promised to call when we made it. The bus that I had to take to get home did not seem to be running to my stop but I took it anyways figuring that I would have to walk the rest of the way. However, thanks to the Lord, the very last stop was my stop... the driver changed his mind right at the end. I was able to get home.
Now here is what was happening... On Wednesday, Rafael Correa, president of Ecuador, voted against giving the national police force some of their benefits. Therefore, on Thursday there was a national revolt, meaning that this was not only taking place in Quito but in other major cities such as the coastal city of Guayaquil. The were demonstrating right outside the presidential palace, which is very accessible to the people. Do not think White House where I could not even throw a rock and hit it. I can touch the doorknob of this place if I wanted to. This is where all demonstrations happen. Apparently, they were striking and Correa went out to negotiate with them. It was then that he was sprayed with tear gas and jostled a bit. He was then taken to the Police Hospital where he was basically being held by the police force. This had all the makings for a coup and many thought that this was it. The people would decide once again.
The nail-biter of the day was who would the military side with. The police were revolting and the president was calling for the military to step up and do the right thing. However, the military have not always been Correa fans. But, the decision was made and they would respond to support the president.
Meanwhile, Quito and other cities nationwide were going crazy. Imagine, all of your law enforcement has decided to take the day off to complain about the president. Things went crazy. Some banks and supermarkets were robbed. Some cars near the school were broken into. Things began to shut down just to stay safe. In Guayaquil the looting went as far as stealing cars and refrigerators so I am told. So think about a bunch of Americans trying to make our way back into the city. We are already targets anyways because many think Americans always have money. Now, we really were a bit nervous. Do we take the bus? Would that be the safest? Do we take a taxi? That seemed to be safer, however, there have been stories of people getting robbed in taxis. What on earth would stop them from doing that today? But we made it safely, praise God.
As things began to shut down, so did we. We were told not to leave the house. We watched the news and read other news blurbs online. The airport shut down and a state of emergency was declared. Peru closed its border to Ecuador. It was not until later that afternoon into the early evening that the news got truly interesting. I could not believe what I was watching. On the television was a gunfight between the military and the police outside the hospital where Correa was being held. This is really not that far from me. Think same city...maybe ten or twelve blocks. The military were successful in rescuing Correa out of the hospital and taking him to the presidential palace where tons of supporters were now gathered. One moment I'm am watching him being rescued out of the hospital into a car and then five minutes later he is on the balcony shaking his finger and letting those who revolted know that this will not go unpunished. He would not negotiate. What a night! What a day! We were not sure what we would wake up to.
However, miracle of all miracles, Quito slowly returned to normal the next day. Things seem to be back into their rhythm. The airport is now open and people are moving about the city. Correa is still president and it appears that the police force has gone back to work. All is well.
I have been reminded of God's sovereignty so much these past few days. God is so good that this did not happen a week ago when my friend and I would have been right at the heart of the madness in the city. God is so gracious that this did not happen only a day earlier when I was walking by myself to get groceries. God is so faithful that none of the students were hurt. God is sovereign and in control of all things. I am reminded that even leaders are pawns in His hand. Governments are only things He controls and moves as He wills. I got to see that this week and I am so thankful. All the more reason to praise the Mighty God who delights in doing His will.

Who is like Him
The Lion and the Lamb
Seated on the throne
Mountains bow down
Every ocean roars
To the Lord of hosts

Praise Adonai
From the rising of the sun
‘Til the end of every day
Praise Adonai
All the nations of the earth
All the angels and the saints
Sing Praise

No comments:

Post a Comment