QUITO: Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa raised police and military salaries just days after a police uprising over a law scrapping police bonuses.
Correa announced the pay hikes the same day as the law stopping public employee bonus payments took effect; it included unpopular cuts to bonus payments linked to seniority.
The president Monday raised salaries of four military and police ranks, from 400-570 dollars a month. Defense Minister Javier Ponce said the raises were unrelated to last week’s turmoil, and had been due since 2008.
On Thursday hundreds of police occupied a police station in the capital and the runway at the international airport, demanding Correa’s government scrap the law that was adopted Wednesday by the legislature. By day’s end, 10 people were killed in the political turmoil and at least 247 injured.
Correa, whose government had been relatively uneventful in a country long renowned for political instability, insisted the rebellion was a coup attempt.
Loyal military and police rescued the president from a hospital in Quito, where the unrest kept him holed up for half a day.
Correa at the weekend resisted some opposition calls for him to call early elections due to the unrest.
The protests Thursday spread to police stations in at least five of the South American country’s 24 provinces. Until Monday’s pay raise, most police in Ecuador made about 700 dollars a month — almost three times the minimum salary of 240 dollars a month. It was not immediately announced what percentage of the force received the raise.
But the pay raise for a captain first class sent his salary from 1,600 to 2,140 a month, under Monday’s hike. A major meanwhile will see his salary rise from 1,870 to 2,280 dollars a month under the same measure.
Only 600 police officers out of a force of some 40,000 took part in the uprising, according to Deputy Interior Minister Edwin Jarrin.
But sources close to the revolt said at least 2,300 officers had joined the protest.
Correa, 47, a leftist ally of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez who has been in office since 2007, was reelected last year to a second term as president of the Andean country of 14.5 million people.
Ecuador has a history riddled with violent political upheaval.
Three of Correa’s predecessors from 1996 to 2006 — including Gutierrez — were ousted before completing their terms.
The US-educated economist has taken a tough stand with foreign investors and refused to repay some foreign debt, in moves welcomed by supporters who have blamed the effects of the economic crisis on foreign liberalism.