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Published 1 July 2015

Opposition lawmakers coordinated a strategy with former colonel Mario Pazmiño to cause chaos during Thursday’s protests.

Ecuador’s government denounced plans by the country’s right-wing opposition to overthrow the government during protests scheduled for Thursday.

The plans included the blockade of the airports of Quito and Guayaquil, the bridges located on the Colombian (Rumichaca) and Peruvian (Huaquillas) borders, while enclosing the palace of government, said Minister of Interior Jose Serrano in a press conference in the capital Wednesday.

Serrano added that opposition lawmakers Andres Paez and Lourdes Tiban coordinated a strategy with former Col. Mario Pazmiño to cause chaos during Thursday’s protests.

President Correa said Pazmiño, who was the former Chief of Military Intelligence in the Army, is “very close to the CIA.” The colonel was sacked by Correa in 2008, after he was found to have colluded in Colombia’s bombing of Ecuador.

According to the exposed plan, the protests coming from the north and south area of Quito would meet near the headquarters of the government palace.

They hoped to “occupy the Carondelet Palace by force, gather the majority of people and distribute them in different sides breaking police fences,” Minister Serrano said.

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According to evidence collected by intelligence groups, assault forces would also support front-line protesters.

“They planned to use pointed sticks to break police shields, to throw balloons filled with paint for police to lose visibility, to pepper-spray police horses and dogs so they got scared,” the official added.

They also planned to publish two letters in national newspapers El Universo and La Hora and to organise letters against the government to be sent to the Pope Francis, seeking to undermine his forthcoming visit.

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Serrano said the aim “if they were not able to seize power,” was that they “would have created national chaos for the Pope to cancel his visit … and maintain an indefinite protest.”

President Rafael Correa commented on the plot in various tweets Wednesday evening, deploring the attempt to violently bring down a democratically elected government.

“We wanted to ease the tensions this week. For this reason we even suspended a massive (protest) ... Unfortunately we obtained clear evidence of a plot meant to take over the (presidential) palace ... They want to defeat violently a government (that is) internationally and domestically supported.”

He concluded that this attempt, like a previous coup attempt on Sept 30, 2010 (referred to as “30S”), will be defeated once again, “peacefully, but firmly:”

“We are more, many more...”

He also called a “joyful” pro-government demonstration Thursday outside the Presidential palace:

“...let’s fill up the main square from 4 p.m., with music and joy, peaceful, but firm. We are more, many more!...”

A wave of opposition protests, initially only calling for the ending of new tax laws on the wealthiest, have increasingly turned violent, with many demanding the ousting of the Correa government.

President Correa announced June 15 the temporary withdrawal of the tax laws and the start of a national dialogue on the future of the Ecuadorean economy.

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