September 30, 2010

Chavez Condemns 'Coup Attempt' On Ecuador's Correa


CARACAS (Dow Jones)--Venezuela President Hugo Chavez on Thursday condemned a "coup attempt" on Ecuador President Rafael Correa and said the fellow leftist leader is being held against his will.

"Correa's life is in danger ... he's been kidnapped," Chavez said in a telephone interview on state television. "Venezuela is with him."

Officials in Ecuador said Correa is in a military hospital, after being affected by tear gas.

Chavez said he's been in communication with Correa by telephone throughout the day and said he and other South American leaders are "mobilizing" to reject the coup attempt. Chavez said he's spoken with Brazil President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and Argentina's leader, Cristina Fernandez.

Venezuela's president said he was preparing to leave immediately for Buenos Aires, Argentina, where an emergency meeting of Unasur would condemn the actions in Ecuador. Unasur is a loose union of about a dozen South American nations.

Correa says the protests in Ecuador Thursday are an attempt by the opposition to destabilize his government.

The government declared a five-day state of emergency, mobilizing armed forces to guarantee order after protests and strikes led by police and some military officials. The protesters are unhappy with a planned cut in benefits.

Chavez' first public announcement on the unrest in Ecuador came via his Twitter account.

"They're trying to take down President Correa," Chavez said on the social-networking site, where he has about 900,000 followers. "Long live Correa."

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