Ecuador’s ex-president Rafael Correa dismissed Tuesday he was arranging a coup against the government from his self-imposed exile in Belgium, after being accused of stoking the worst crisis in years in the Andean oil producer.
Protests over an end to fuel subsidies have erupted throughout the nation, prompting President Lenin Moreno to accuse Correa, his forerunner and one-time mentor, of trying to oust him with support from Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro.
Moreno has abandoned the leftist policies of Correa’s time as president from 2007 to 2017, a rare interval of stability for a nation accustomed to political turmoil, however, which led to corruption allegations and an increase in Ecuador’s exterior debt.
Thousands of indigenous protesters have marched into the capital for the sixth day after Moreno introduced a measure to end fuel subsidies to scale back the fiscal deficit.
In a challenging national TV address on Monday evening, Moreno, who has left the capital Quito, said he wouldn’t back down on the fuel hike in the face of what he referred to as a “detribalization plan” arranged by Correa and Maduro.
Sitting in an empty office with an Ecuadorean flag and his official photograph as president, Correa said he could be ready to return, possibly as a candidate for VP, if new elections were called.
He dismissed any direct ties to Venezuela’s Maduro, who France, the U.S., and several Latin American countries accuse of installing a dictatorship as a political and financial crisis intensifies in Venezuela.