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Troops take over Ecuador airport in protest

Ecuadoran troops Thursday took over the international airport here to protest a law cutting benefits to the police and military, an airport official said, adding all flights were suspended.

About 150 troops took over the airport in Quito, the capital of the South American nation, as dozens of police protested on the streets against a new law approved by Congress which would strip them of some economic benefits.

President Rafael Correa warned earlier Thursday that he would not bow in face of the protests.

“No, I will not step back, if they want to seize the barracks, if they want to leave the citizens defenseless and betray their mission,” he said in a speech to soldiers from Quito’s main regiment.

Protests were also held in Ecuador’s second city of Guayaquil and the city of Cuenca. But the largest demonstrations erupted in Quito where tear gas was used to try to disperse the crowds.

“The troops united will never be defeated,” the demonstrators chanted, with some calling on other troops to join in the demonstrations.

Army chief Ernesto Gonzalez on Thursday threw his full support behind Correa, who was said to be considering dissolving Congress and holding snap elections to resolve the political crisis.

And police chief Freddy Martinez rushed to the demonstrations to call for calm, but was met with a hostile reception.

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