Budget cuts clearly aren’t going too well in Ecuador, where the prime minister was tear-gassed and then briefly held hostage by protesting police inside the hospital where he was receiving treatment.
You can see dramatic video of it here >
Prime Minister Rafael Correa was eventually freed after army troops stormed in, but now he has declared his political opposition as an attempted ‘coup d’etat’ and the country is under a state of emergency and in crisis.
The conflict began when Mr. Correa went in person to address the police’s grievances. The initial visit broke into a scuffle, and according to the New York Times, at one point the prime minister even opened his shirt to show he wasn’t wearing a bullet vest, saying “If you want to kill the president, here he is. Kill him, if you want to. Kill him if you are brave enough.”
He was assaulted, tear-gassed, and then when receiving treatment in a hospital was barricaded in by police. The military leadership has nevertheless come out to support the prime minister and anti-austerity protestors could now have the weaker hand.
However, any leader planning spending cuts right now has to look at this situation and at least briefly re-think just how hard they want to cut spending.
If you push too far, people can just revolt. Spending tax money can generate criticism and hatred, but it’s nothing like the hatred that can literally erupt when you cut spending. People hate government spending, but they usually hate spending cuts far more, and that’s why politicians normally err on the side of spending.
So do nations such as Greece, Spain, or Ireland have their own austerity breaking points? Ecuador found theirs.