Sunday, October 3, 2010

Help! Police!

The President of Ecuador got a bit of rough treatment the other day from his own police force, who were angry about losing their bonuses (not this sort of bonus, obviously). There was pushing and shoving, actual blows and tear gas, and that's not to mention the three people shot dead during the subsequent rioting in Quito and Guayaquil.

Guayaquil I could understand: it's a big port and has a reputation for being dangerous, but the Quito I saw was pretty civilised. I did jump when this man rushed out of a bank waving his gun
but it turned out he was just a courier guard with a flair for drama. The matronly lady who was accompanying us, Silvia, was very unimpressed: "Don't point that thing at me," she said, shoving past him and leaving him looking a bit chastened.

Who do you call when the police are the baddies? The army - and they weren't far away either when we were there, practising some sort of ceremony in the square outside our elegant old hotel, just across the road from the Presidential Palace where Correo delivered a defiant speech after he escaped from the police. It's to be hoped that the soldiers had something more threatening to use than these dummy-looking blades on the ends of bamboo canes.
I'm not too sure about this guy's sword, either - I wouldn't be surprised if it had been bought at the pinata shop round the corner where the bored-looking clown in the orange fright wig was hanging out all day. But that's a very genuine frowny face he's got.

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