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Explainer-Why did Ecuador raid Mexico's Quito embassy?

Published 04/06/2024, 04:04 PM
Updated 04/06/2024, 08:51 PM
© Reuters. Police officers stand guard as Ecuador's former Vice President Jorge Glas is expected to arrive at the La Roca Prison, after Ecuadorean forces raided Mexico's embassy to arrest Glas who had been convicted twice of corruption and who had been granted asylu

(Reuters) - Mexico abruptly suspended bilateral relations with Ecuador in an escalating diplomatic dispute, after Ecuador's police forced their way into Mexico's Quito embassy to arrest a former vice president on graft charges.


Heavily-armed and balaclava-clad police broke into Mexico's embassy late on Friday night to arrest Jorge Glas, Ecuador's former leftist vice president, who is wanted on graft charges.

Glas has been living in the embassy since December, after requesting asylum in the North American country, which Mexico only granted on Friday.

Ecuador, which requested Mexico's permission to enter the embassy at the start of March to detain Glas, contends the asylum offer was illegal, because under international law, people facing charges should not be granted asylum.

Mexico, whose President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador immediately suspended relations with Ecuador after the raid, has said it closely studied Glas' case.

The arrest capped a week of growing tensions between the two Latin American countries, after Quito declared the Mexican ambassador persona non grata, citing "unfortunate" comments by leftist Lopez Obrador.

The Mexican president had compared election-related violence in the two countries, alleging the murder of Ecuadorean presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio last year was unfairly tied to the leftist candidate in the race, who subsequently lost. Lopez Obrador further blamed what he said was corrupt media for what he described as election manipulation.

The media have been a frequent target of Lopez Obrador's ire during his nearly six years in office.


Glas, who was vice president during the government of Rafael Correa between 2013 and 2017, has been convicted twice in corruption cases and is now facing fresh charges of misuse of public resources.

He was first sentenced to six years in late 2017 after a court found him guilty of taking bribes from Brazilian construction company Odebrecht in return for handing the scandal-choked firm state contracts.

Glas, 54, was convicted again in 2020 of using money from contractors to fund campaigns for Correa's political movement and given an eight-year sentence.

Correa - who has lived in Belgium since he left office - was convicted in the same case.

Both men have long alleged the charges are politically-motivated, an accusation prosecutors have denied.

Glas served more than four years in prison before being released in 2022, only to be jailed again the same year, after a court ruled he needed to serve the remainder of his sentences, though his lawyers had requested he serve them concurrently and benefit from parole.

He was last released in November 2022, but Glas faces new charges of misusing funds collected to aid reconstruction of coastal Manabi province after a devastating 2016 earthquake.

His lawyers in December appealed a judge's decision to send him back to jail, arguing his life could be in danger, but it was denied.


On Saturday, governments across the political spectrum in Latin America - including Brazil and Colombia on the left, and Argentina and Uruguay on the right - sharply criticized the arrest of Glas.

Brazil's government condemned Ecuador's move as a "clear violation" of international norms prohibiting such a raid on a foreign embassy, while Argentina called for compliance with the Vienna Convention on diplomatic relations.


© Reuters. Police officers stand guard as Ecuador's former Vice President Jorge Glas is expected to arrive at the La Roca Prison, after Ecuadorean forces raided Mexico's embassy to arrest Glas who had been convicted twice of corruption and who had been granted asylum by Mexican authorities, in Guayaquil, Ecuador April 6, 2024. REUTERS/Marcos Pin

The Mexican foreign ministry said it will file a complaint with the United Nation's International Court of Justice, while the government of leftist Colombian President Gustavo Petro said it will seek human rights protections for Glas from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, saying his right to asylum was "barbarously violated."

The Washington-based Organization of American States said a session of the body's permanent council will be convened to discuss the need for strict compliance with international treaties.

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