Correa backed by world leaders

Leaders around the world voiced support Thursday for embattled Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa in the face of a coup attempt that saw troops seize the main airport and police storm Congress.

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As Correa sought refuge in a hospital and his government declared a state of emergency, Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez called on the region to rally to the defense of his close leftist ally.

“This is an effort to overthrow President Correa,” the Venezuelan president said in a Twitter message, urging his so-called Bolivarian allies in South America to stand with Correa.

“Together with the people of Latin America and the Caribbean we will be vigilant and standing in solidarity (with Correa) in this historic moment,” a statement from Chavez’s government said.

The United States, Canada, the European Union and the United Nations also said they backed the elected leader and were closely monitoring the quickly unfolding chaos.

“The United States deplores violence and lawlessness and we express our full support for President Rafael Correa, and the institutions of democratic government in that country,” US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said, as she urged Ecuadorans to “come together” and find a solution that respected the laws of the land.

And UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he was “deeply concerned” for Correa’s “personal welfare.

Ban “calls on all actors to intensify efforts to resolve the current crisis peacefully, within the rule of law,” a spokesman said in a statement, noting the UN chief supported efforts for an “early, constructive” resolution.

Peru and Colombia closed their borders with neighboring Ecuador in a show of support for Correa. Peruvian President Alan Garcia also called a meeting of regional leaders under the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR).

Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim expressed his country’s backing in a telephone call to Ecuadoran Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino, Brazilian officials said as Correa sought refuge in a hospital after a demonstration turned ugly in Quito.

Organization of American States chief Jose Miguel Insulza said Correa had the “full support” of the 35-member organization, which held an emergency meeting over the budding crisis. The group, which includes the countries of the Americas, confirmed Correa’s assessment that a coup attempt was underway.

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton also offered “full support” to Correa’s government and urged “the preservation of constitutional order.”

Canada, meanwhile, said it was “concerned” about the growing unrest and monitoring the situation “closely.”

“We call on Ecuadorans to refrain from violence and any other actions that could imperil the rule of law and the country’s democratic institutions,” Foreign Affairs Ministry spokeswoman Lisa Monette said.

Elsewhere in Latin America, Argentina said it “categorically rejects the uprising of military and police forces that threaten democratic institutions in Ecuador.”

The Mexican foreign ministry expressed “concern over the events today in Ecuador” and called for an effort for “dialogue and conciliation.”

Similar expressions of support came from leaders in Chile, Colombia and Paraguay.

Cuba’s government expressed its “strong rejection” of the coup effort and called on the United States to condemn the uprising to show it is not “an accomplice,” according to a statement read by Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez.

The leftist Correa was re-elected last year to a second term as president of the country of some 14.5 million people.

International election observers at the time criticized Correa’s “dominant” media presence in the run-up to the vote, which they said had damaged the poll’s fairness.

Since first taking power in 2007, Correa has proven controversial because of his close ties to regional leftists like Chavez.

The US-educated economist took a tough stance with investors and refused to repay foreign debt, in moves welcomed by supporters who blamed the effects of the economic crisis on unbridled free markets.