Extra police were called Wednesday morning to escort former president Rafael Correa out of a radio station in Esmeraldas Province where he had given an interview. The SUV in which Correa had arrived, sustained serious damage after it had been pelted with debris and paint.
On Wednesday night, President Lenin Moreno condemned the violence and the national police command said it is launching an investigation. “This is not how peaceful citizens conduct themselves in a democracy,” the president said.
In a news conference, the national police commander said his agency will investigate the protest at Quinindé and bring to justice those who broke the law. He also announced that police will step up the protection for Correa while he is the country.
Correa has encountered several angry crowds as he has campaigned against questions on the February 4 national referendum. He has been hit with eggs on three occasions and his “no” caravans has been repeatedly hit with eggs, fruit, vegetables and sometimes rocks.
In several towns and cities, the route of his caravan has been blocked by protesters. In the past week, he has campaigned almost exclusively through radio interviews, including Wednesday at Radio Magia in Quinindé.
Before extra police arrived at the radio station, Correa had Tweeted concern for his safety as a crowd gathered outside the station, shouting “Fuera Correa!” (Out Correa). “The situation is very serious in Quinindé. at the radio station where we were interviewed. We are surrounded by violent people … What a shame for the country!”
Correa left the radio station at noon, five hours after he arrived, when police used tear gas to clear a path to a new campaign car. Police also provided an escort out of town.