Police officers protesting over low salaries have sparked violent protests in Quito, Ecuador, resulting in an attack on President Correa. Correa was targeted during a speech to officers about proposed legislative and policy reforms. He was admitted to hospital following the attack, and the hospital was later surrounded. Correa was eventually rescued by a military unit. It is not yet clear whether the incident amounts to a pre-planned police-backed coup, or simply a demonstration that spiraled out of control. Robberies and lootings were reported to have occurred during the security vacuum that was created. Although for the time being at least Correa seems to have maintained political control, medium-term implications of the incident might include the need for him to form closer ties with the military, with whom his previous relationship has been mixed. The unrest might also force him to adopt a more flexible approach to resolving the current deadlock with Congress on various proposed reforms aimed at cutting state costs. There have in fact been suggestions that Correa has already declared such a policy within the last 48 hours. At an economic level, as the smallest OPEC producer of crude oil, a lengthy period of political uncertainty and security challenges may lead to a reduction in Ecuador’s oil business and investments, thus hindering the country’s recovery from the global economic crisis. At a global level we have already seen an increase in the cost per barrel since the events of 1 October 2010 and it is still too early to rule out a protracted oil crisis in the region. Last week’s ‘coup’ could also spark increased tensions with the leftist Pachacutik Movement whose recent relationship with the government has been strained. As events continue to unfold over the coming days, the scale of the political damage that last week’s incident has caused will become clearer, as will the ability to project its implications more accurately. What is already apparent is that with the publicly declared support of the military and political leaders from across the world, Correa must regain some level of control quickly in order to prevent a national politico-economic and security crisis on the scale of those we have witnessed so often before in Latin America.