Is coup the appropriate term for what is happening in Ecuador?

The very nice Naadir Jeewa, in a comment he left on my blog, notified me of a recent debate between two bloggers on whether the current events in Ecuador can be rightly called a coup or not. The debate has been taking place by Greg Weeks who has defined coup d’etat and has come to the conclusion that instead of a coup, the ongoing events are more an example of dissent which has gone awry, but owing to the absence of military support, should be differentiated from a coup. Miguel Centellas, on the other hand, disagrees saying that the assault which Correa has experienced, are “illegitimate means of expressing discontent” akin to a coup attempt.

I feel now I want to offer my own take. Their argument, as stated by Centellas, is on the semantics of coup (or indeed the “golpe”). There is an obvious difference between a coup d’etat and a military coup d’etat, but according to Weeks’ definition the former, in order to be a coup at all, must have the backing of the military, or at least hope the military joins side. Practically speaking, it would be difficult to organise a coup without the backing of the military because it is their role to protect the national government, but it seems the question becomes more trivial when we consider that former President Gutiérrez provided co-ordination to the dissenting police.

In my opinion, we cannot refrain from calling this a coup attempt on the grounds that the army did not join the other side – the police, the former President – bur rather we should refer to this as a failed coup. The violence which Correa endured, and his being trapped inside a hospital by dissenters trying to intimidate him is one thing, but as there were figures present leading the rioters, such as Gutiérrez, who is not affected by the measure to extend the promotion time period for police, the definition needs to go one level further. I suggest that term is coup.

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