A School of the Americas graduate has been charged for last week’s unsuccessful coup attempt in Ecuador. Col. Manuel E. Rivadeneira Tello, a graduate of the SOA’s combat arms training course, is one of three police officials being investigated for negligence, rebellion and attempted assassination of the president.
Rivadeneira was the commander of the barracks where President Correa was attacked by protesting police. The injured Correa was taken to a police hospital were he held hostage by police who threatened to kill him if he escaped. After 12 hours, 500 elite military troops stormed the hospital and organized a rescue. By the end of the day four people were dead and over 200 wounded.
This is the second coup attempt led by SOA graduates in a little over a year. The June 2009 in Honduras led by SOA graduates Gen. Vásquez Velásquez and General Prince Suazo was successful in overthrowing President Manuel Zelaya. At the time, President Correa expressed concern that this opened the possibility of future coups in the continent acknowledging that he might be a possible target..
The defense of Ecuador’s democracy was achieved by its citizens, who poured into the streets in defense of their president. Their voices were joined by an international chorus of support for Correa, including the OAS, UNASUR and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Ecuadorans, however, were not convinced that the US was an not involved. A poll indicated that over 50% of Ecuadorans felt that the US had some involvement in the coup.
Both presidents of Honduras and Ecuador had recently challenged the use of their military bases by the US military. President Correa ended a lease to the US to use it’s Manta base in 2009, and President Zelaya had indicated his support for turning the Palmerola base used by the US into a civilian airport shortly before he was deposed. Likewise, both countries were members of the Bolivarian Alliance of the Americas (ALBA) when the coups were attempted. A third ALBA country, Venezuela, was the target of the third attempted Latin American coup of the past decade, in 2002, also led by SOA graduates. (SOA Watch, Oct. 10)