Mexico cuts off diplomatic relations with Ecuador after embassy arrest

Ecuadorian police on Friday night arrested a politician who had taken refuge in the Mexican embassy in Quito in what Mexico said was a forced entry that violated the country’s sovereignty. Following the incident, Mexico suspended diplomatic relations with Ecuador, further escalating already high tensions between the two countries.

Ecuador’s presidential palace, former Ecuadorian vice president and politician Jorge Glass sentenced to prison for corruption stated in a statementHe added that there was a warrant out for his arrest. Glass, who had been living in the embassy in Ecuador’s capital since December, was granted political asylum by Mexico early Friday.

Ecuador’s President Daniel Novoa’s office said the arrest proceeded because Mexico had abused the immunity and privileges granted to diplomatic missions, adding that Mr. Glass’s asylum had been granted “contrary to the traditional legal framework.” .

Although it was difficult to immediately confirm the circumstances that led to his arrest, Video shared by Ecuadorian news media What appeared to be the aftermath was seen as two black cars drove away from the embassy with sirens blaring, and police officers stopped onlookers. A man, identified by local reporters as Roberto Canseco, the embassy’s representative to Mexico, was seen shouting “No!” before officers shoved him to the ground.

Canseco told reporters that as he was leaving the embassy, ​​he suddenly encountered “police and thieves who invaded the embassy all night.”he said he tried to do so physically prevent their invasion. “They hit me and I was thrown to the ground,” he said. “Like criminals, they broke into the Mexican embassy in Ecuador.”

The arrest comes after months of conflict between the two countries over Mr. Glass, who was considered a fugitive by Ecuadorian authorities. Tensions escalated last week after Mexico’s president questioned the legitimacy of Ecuador’s recent presidential election, and the two countries continue to quarrel. In effect, the Ecuadorian government Mexican ambassador ordered to leave, declared her “persona non grata.”mexico is condemned That declaration on Fridayand also granted Mr. Glass asylum.

Mexico’s Foreign Secretary Alicia Bárcena Ibarra announced the severing of diplomatic relations with Ecuador. statement, said a Mexican diplomat was injured in the incident at the embassy.she ordered Mexican diplomats left Ecuador and Mexico said it would appeal to the International Court of Justice.

Immediately after the arrest, Mexican President Andres Manuel López Obrador issued a statement Ecuadorian police used force against the embassy, ​​calling the incident a “clear violation of international law and Mexico’s sovereignty”.

Attacks on embassies are particularly important because they are often seen as sanctuaries for a country’s citizens. Normally, the host country’s police cannot enter without permission from the diplomat.Ecuadorian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in march He said he had asked Mexico for permission to enter the embassy in order to arrest Glass.

Glass served as vice president under President Rafael Correa from 2013 to 2017 and was previously considered to be his successor. But in 2017, he was found guilty of accepting bribes from international construction giant Odebrecht and sentenced to six years in prison. The company has admitted paying more than $800 million in bribes in more than a dozen countries, implicating it in Latin American governments facing corruption charges.

In 2020, Mr. Glass, along with Mr. Correa, was sentenced to an additional eight years in prison in a separate bribery November 2022he was released early from prison.

The third embezzlement charge led to Ecuadorian authorities obtaining an arrest warrant that sparked Friday’s clashes at the Mexican embassy.

A few days ago, the rift between Ecuador and Mexico widened further after López Obrador said: public comment He talked about the assassination of 2023 Ecuadorian presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio and criticized the current Ecuadorian president, Noboa.

Ecuador’s Foreign Ministry on Thursday called López Obrador’s comments “regrettable.” announced measures To the Ambassador of Mexico, Raquel Cerul Smek.

In response, Mexico ordered the ambassador to return home and appointed Canseco, head of the Mexican consulate in Quito, as head of the embassy. He also criticized the increased presence of Ecuadorian police outside the embassy.

Novoa, a centre-right political outsider, became president in November after winning a high-stakes election in which corruption and drug-related violence were the main issues. Novoa vowed to crack down on drug lords and return the country to its former prosperous days.

Ecuador has been plagued by increased violence from powerful drug lords in recent years. Reports of car bombings and police assassinations have become commonplace, and the assassination of Villavicencio, a presidential candidate who had been vocal about issues of corruption and organized crime, has caused further unrest across the country.

Earlier this year, Novoa declared a state of infighting and was given special powers to combat organized crime, deploying troops against gangs. But some human rights activists are warning about the impact on civil liberties.

Mark A. Walsh Contributed to the report.

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