Mexico cuts ties with Ecuador after embassy storming in Quito

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Mexico cuts ties with Ecuador after embassy storming in Quito

Nevin Al Sukari - Sana'a - A military vehicle is parked outside the Flagrancy Unit, where former Ecuador Vice President Jorge Glas is believed to be detained, in Quito April 6, 2024. — Reuters pic

QUITO, April 6 — Ecuadoran authorities stormed the Mexican embassy in Quito yesterday to arrest former vice president Jorge Glas, who had been granted political asylum there, prompting Mexico to sever diplomatic ties after the “violation of international law”.

Images taken by AFP showed police special forces massed outside the embassy and at least one of them scaling its walls, which were already surrounded by police and military.

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said authorities “forcibly entered” the building to arrest Glas.

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“This is a flagrant violation of international law and the sovereignty of Mexico,” he said on social media platform X.

Foreign minister Alicia Barcena said the arrest was a “flagrant violation of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations” and Mexican personnel in the embassy had been injured during the incident.

“Mexico announces the immediate breaking of diplomatic relations with Ecuador,” she said on X.

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She added that Mexican diplomatic personnel will immediately leave the South American country and asked Quito to “offer the necessary guarantees” for their movement.

Mexico had complained earlier in the day of “harassment” due to an increased police presence outside its Quito embassy.

The former Ecuadoran vice president — who served under leftist President Rafael Correa — sought refuge in the Mexican embassy last December after authorities issued a warrant for his arrest for alleged corruption.

But his asylum request was formally granted yesterday, angering Quito and deepening the diplomatic dispute between the two Latin American nations.

Ecuadoran President Daniel Noboa’s government called the move an “illicit act” but Mexico insisted it had granted political asylum to Glas “after a thorough analysis” of the situation.

Ecuador’s presidential communications department said in a statement that Glas “has been arrested tonight and placed under the orders of the competent authorities.”

Former president Correa, who was sentenced in absentia to eight years in prison for corruption, wrote on X that “not even in the worst dictatorships has a country’s embassy been violated.”

Police and military officials stand guard outside the Flagrancy Unit, where former Ecuador Vice President Jorge Glas is believed to be detained, in Quito April 6, 2024. — Reuters pic

Police and military officials stand guard outside the Flagrancy Unit, where former Ecuador Vice President Jorge Glas is believed to be detained, in Quito April 6, 2024. — Reuters pic

‘It’s an outrage’

Local media showed Roberto Canseco, head of the Mexican diplomatic mission, running behind vehicles believed to be transporting Glas from the site, shouting: “It’s an outrage!”

Agents prevented Canseco from approaching one of the cars and in the ensuing struggle he is seen falling to the ground.

Before the arrest, Ecuador said that according to international conventions, “it is not legal to grant asylum to people convicted or prosecuted for common crimes and by competent ordinary courts.”

Lopez Obrador had irked Quito a day before Mexico granted the asylum request with comments equating political violence in the two countries.

On Wednesday, he drew a comparison between 2023 election violence in Ecuador, in which a presidential candidate was murdered, and crime in Mexico ahead of the June 2 legislative and presidential elections.

Lopez Obrador said violence and “manipulation” by some media caused a drop in the popularity of leftist candidate Luisa Gonzalez and the rise of Noboa.

The Ecuadoran government criticized his comments as offensive and said the country was still in “mourning” for the slain candidate, Fernando Villavicencio, a fierce opponent of corruption.

Glas was released from prison in November after serving time for corruption in a vast scandal involving the Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht.

He faces another arrest warrant for allegedly diverting funds that were intended for reconstruction efforts after a devastating earthquake in 2016. — AFP

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