Updated 07:46 PM EDT, Wed, Oct 21, 2020

Relationship Between Ecuador's Government & Military Strained Due to Correa's Termination

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Protesters took to the streets of Quito, Ecuador, to hold a counter-demonstration in the wake of the dispute between the country's government and military chiefs that led President Rafael Correa to fire the military high command.

The problem, as noted by Voice of America, came when the top military command from the Social Security Institute of the Armed Forces (ISSFA) was accused of overcharging the Environment Ministry by an estimated $41 million in a land sale in 2010. The Armed Forces were said to have sold 66 lots to the Ministry for $48 million, but according to the report by the Attorney General, the lots only amounted to about $7 million.

Fox News said that when asked to return the funds, General Luis Garzon said that the money couldn't be returned as it had already been dedicated to military pensions. When Garzon stepped out of military practice and spoke at a news conference about the matter in question, Correa fired him for disobedience.

Correa fired Garzon and other military high command officers, announcing via Twitter, "With great pain I had to prematurely end the High Command. We will not allow anyone to manipulate soldiers or the country."

He also stated in the rally on Wednesday, "Soldiers can have certainty over their pensions. Our armed forces are very important for the country, but they are not the whole country." 

The military chiefs have been given until April to leave their office.

He also added that the $41 million overcharge will be discounted: the money will be taken from the state's social security contributions to the military. 

Anti-government protesters chanted on the streets, calling for Correa to go to prison for his decision to fire the officers involved. Pro-government crowds, on the other hand, call for the unity of people.

An opposition protester told TeleSur TV that Correa should resign from his post, as the country is now living in "total insecurity" and suffering from a moral crisis. The president's actions were said to be an example of abuse committed by the government, adding that he should go to jail.

Another protester noted, "Nine years in power is too much, we want (Correa) out. Democracy has ended, nothing is independent."

Still, despite the protesters gathering outside the Presidential Palace, Correa summarized the dispute, slamming the mainstream press for misrepresenting the government in the process. Correa said, "I want the press to listen to me: Stop manipulating the people. Everything we are doing is legal and for the good will of the people."

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