By Simon Watts
BBC News, Miami
The downfall of Lucio Gutierrez is the latest episode in a battle in Latin America between left-leaning presidents and the traditional elites that oppose them.
Lucio Gutierrez was elected amid high expectations
Mr Gutierrez was elected in 2002 as a firebrand in the mould of Venezuela's Hugo Chavez.
Like Mr Chavez, he was a mestizo former military officer who had first won a reputation in an uprising against the brand of conservative economics known in Latin America as neo-liberalism.
He opposed the dollarisation of the Ecuadorian economy and forged close links with the powerful indigenous movement.
Once in office though, Mr Gutierrez changed course. Faced with a difficult economic scenario, he opted to follow the recommendations of the International Monetary Fund.
That lost Mr Gutierrez the support of his indigenous allies and his political weakness encouraged Ecuador's traditional parties to try to get rid of him.
They had always dominated the Supreme Court, so in an effort to make the country more governable, Mr Gutierrez and his supporters tried to overhaul it.
But they appeared to break the constitution in doing so, and in a fatal move, the new chief justice quashed corruption charges against a former President, Abdala Bucaram.
That allowed Mr Bucaram to return from exile just as Mr Gutierrez was courting his party's support in Congress.
Powerful opposition mayors organised big rallies and strikes.
They were joined by middle-class Ecuadorians who had concluded that the whole political class was corrupt.
When violence began to develop, the president's position quickly became untenable.