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Last Updated: Sunday, 24 April 2005, 23:37 GMT 00:37 UK
Tension falls after Gutierrez exile
By Hannah Hennessy
BBC News, Quito

People in Ecuador have been reacting with a mixture of anger and acceptance after the country's former leader left for exile in Brazil.

On the streets of Quito some people said they were furious that Lucio Gutierrez had been allowed to leave the country.

Ecuadorean woman with child
Some believe they are better off with the president in exile
"The feeling that all Ecuadoreans have is one of indignation for all the things he stole from us," said one young man as he cradled his baby daughter outside of the Atahualpa Olympic stadium.

Thousands had come for a match between the local football team, Deportivo Quito, and visiting side Barcelona from the southern port city of Guayaquil.

Mr Gutierrez was ousted after days of protests by people in Ecuador, who accused him of abusing his powers, trying to control the judiciary and acting like a dictator.

Even after he had been fired by Congress, the protests continued, with demonstrators calling on Brazil to hand over Mr Gutierrez so he could be sent to jail for his alleged crimes, which included ordering violent action against the protesters in the days before he was forced out of office.

Those calls have not stopped.

"It's bad, it's bad," said one woman on hearing that Mr Gutierrez had left Ecuador. "He should be in jail because he did many things wrong here."


The new government of Ecuador says international law obliged it to grant safe passage to Mr Gutierrez after he was offered asylum by Brazil.

While many people said they recognised the necessity of such legislation, they wanted Mr Gutierrez to be judged for his crimes.

"I think you need to respect international law, but he should have stayed and paid for and justified all the bad things he did against us."

While many people in Ecuador said they were angry at the fact the new government had allowed Mr Gutierrez to evade justice, some welcomed his departure.

"I think it is the better way to be in a democracy, because President Gutierrez was making a lot of bad decisions against the Ecuadorean people."

Others welcomed his departure for other reasons.

"It's good, because he was a dictator and he was a thief, so what can our people hope for if our boss is a thief?" said one lady, as she sold soft drinks outside the stadium.

Better future?

Outside the stadium in the business district of Quito, street vendors hawked snacks like raw fish with dried corn, while others sat on the edge of the road selling yellow red and blue hats representing the national team.

Fans mingled excitedly in the sunshine. Whistles, horns, chants and banners filled the air. But they were a different kind from those that have been heard and seen on the streets in recent days.

Crowd stops Brazilian ambassador's car in Quito, Ecuador
Ecuadoreans blocked the Brazilian ambassador's residence for days
Just hours after their former leader left Ecuador, some people here put political thoughts to one side for another one of their passions.

Four days after Mr Gutierrez was ousted as president, most people of Ecuador are still angry with the ousted leader who many accuse of being a dictator.

Their protests forced him out of office and many still want to see him judged by his own people.

There had been fears that the protests could flare up again after Mr Gutierrez left Ecuador.

But in Quito on Sunday, although some were angry, most people acknowledged that with Mr Gutierrez gone they could take their first steps towards democracy in several years.

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21 Apr 05 |  Americas

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