Latin American countries condemn Ecuador raid on Mexico embassy

Nicaragua joins Mexico in severing ties with Ecuador after its security forces stormed the Mexican embassy in Quito to arrest former Vice President Jorge Glas.

This handout picture released by the Ecuadorian Police shows former Ecuadorian vice president Jorge Glas being escorted by members of the Special Penitentiary Action Group (GEAP) during his arrival at the maximum security prison La Roca in Guayaquil on April 6, 2024.
Jorge Glas arrives at the La Roca maximum security prison in Guayaquil, Ecuador, on April 6, 2024 [Handout/ Ecuadorian Police via AFP]

Governments across Latin America have rallied around Mexico after security forces in Ecuador stormed the Mexican embassy in Quito to arrest a controversial politician who had been granted political asylum there.

Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela sharply rebuked Ecuador on Saturday, hours after the seizure of Ecuador’s former Vice President Jorge Glas, with Nicaragua joining Mexico in severing diplomatic ties with Quito.

During the incident, which took place late on Friday night, special forces equipped with a battering ram surrounded the Mexican embassy in Quito’s financial district, and at least one agent scaled the walls to extract Glas.

The 54-year-old politician is wanted on corruption charges and has been holed up inside the Mexican embassy since seeking political asylum in December.

Mexican authorities granted that request on Friday.

Following his arrest, Glas could be seen on video circulating on social media being taken by a police convoy to the airport in Quito, flanked by heavily armed soldiers. He then boarded a plane en route to a jail in Guayaquil, the Andean nation’s largest city.

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador blasted the unusual diplomatic incursion and arrest as an “authoritarian” act as well as a breach of international law and Mexico’s sovereignty, while the government of Ecuador’s President Daniel Noboa argued asylum protections were illegal because of the corruption charges Glas is facing.

Still, under international law, embassies are considered the sovereign territory of the country they represent, and the Vienna Convention, which governs international relations, states that a country cannot intrude upon an embassy on its territory.

Brazil’s government condemned Ecuador’s move as a “clear violation” of international norms and said the action “must be subject to strong repudiation, whatever the justification for its implementation”.

Colombian President Gustavo Petro argued in a post on X that Latin America “must keep alive the precepts of international law in the midst of the barbarism that is advancing in the world”, while his government said in a separate statement that it will seek human rights legal protections for the now-detained Glas.

The United States also said it condemns any violation of the convention protecting diplomatic missions and encouraged “the two countries to resolve their differences in accord with international norms”.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, meanwhile, said he was “alarmed” by the raid, and urged both sides to show moderation in resolving the dispute, according to a spokesman.

The Washington-based Organization of American States also issued a call for dialogue to resolve the escalating dispute, adding in a statement that a session of the body’s permanent council will be convened to discuss the need for “strict compliance with international treaties, including those that guarantee the right to asylum”.

On Saturday, the Mexican embassy remained surrounded by police and the Mexican flag had been taken down.

Mexico’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said late in the day that diplomatic personnel and their families would leave Ecuador on a commercial flight on Sunday, adding that personnel from “friendly and allied countries” would accompany them to the airport.

In Mexico City, about 50 demonstrators rallied outside Ecuador’s embassy, accusing Quito of being “fascist”.

In an interview with national broadcaster Milenio, Mexico’s top diplomat Alicia Barcena expressed shock at Ecuador’s incursion into the country’s embassy, adding that some embassy personnel were injured in the raid.

She added that Glas was granted asylum after an exhaustive analysis of the circumstances surrounding the accusations he faces.

Glas was vice president under former leftist president, Rafael Correa, between 2013 and 2017.

He was released from prison in November after serving time for receiving millions of dollars in kickbacks in a vast scandal involving 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.

Glas has claimed he is the victim of political persecution, a charge Ecuador’s government has denied.

Former President Correa, who has been exiled in Belgium since 2017 and 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”.

He said Glas “was struggling to walk because he was beaten”.

Source: News Agencies