Mexico Breaks Diplomatic Ties with Ecuador After Embassy Raid

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By LatAm Reports Editorial Team

The international community has loudly condemned Ecuador’s government, following a police raid on the Mexican embassy in Quito to forcibly remove former vice president Jorge Glas. Mexico broke diplomatic relations with Ecuador in response.

Glas had taken refuge in the embassy in December. He was formally granted asylum earlier Friday and Mexico had requested safe-conduct for Glas to board a plane to Mexico City. Ecuador’s government said it was unlawful to grant asylum to a person twice convicted on corruption charges. Glas, who had served five years in prison already before being released on parole, Glas faces a new trial for embezzlement in which the judge requested preventive detention. He said he is the victim of political persectuion. (Associated PressReutersEl PaísGuardian)

International leaders, including Latin American governments from across the ideological spectrum and the U.N. Secretary General, have voiced concern over the nearly unprecedented violation of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations. While violations are rare globally, it has particularly rankled in Latin America, where embassies served as a critical safe space for victims of political persecution and dictatorship.

Mexican Foreign Minister Alicia Bárcena made reference to this history yesterday, receiving evacuated embassy personnel, noting even General Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship respected the Mexican embassy’s inviolability. Bárcena said Mexico plans to challenge the raid today at the World Court in The Hague. She added that 18 countries in Latin America, 20 in Europe and the Organization of American States have backed Mexico. (Associated Press)

Critics have said the raid on Mexico’s embassy was particularly violent: 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 on Friday night. (Al Jazeera)

Glas’ attorney told The Associated Press that officers broke into his room in the Mexican embassy and he resisted when they attempted to put his hands behind his back. She said the officers then “knocked him to the floor, kicked him in the head, in the spine, in the legs, the hands,” and when he “couldn’t walk, they dragged him out.”

El País reports that “agents shook off Roberto Canseco, the head of the Mexican consular section, who tried to restrain them on his own. The diplomat ended up on the ground, desperate and helpless, and watched as a convoy of vehicles with tinted windows escorted Glas away.” Videos show Canseco shouting: “No, no, this is a violation, this is not possible!” before he was wrestled to the ground by police. (Financial Times)

Diplomatic tensions between Ecuador and Mexico were already running high last week, when Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said media manipulation contributed to Ecuadorean President Daniel Noboa’s electoral victory last year. Ecuador responded by declaring Mexico’s ambassador persona non grata. (Reuters)

Ecuador is betting that actual retaliation is unlikely, particularly from the U.S. which is supporting Noboa’s crackdown on organized crime, but the raid could eventually have legal repercussions with monetary implications, according to experts. (Associated Press)

Political calculus

Despite the global outcry, Noboa’s move was well received at home, reports Bloomberg. Experts say “political aspirations appear to explain the arrest at the embassy, which signaled that the president is tough on impunity,” reports the New York Times.

The standoff could help the president ahead of a referendum later this month asking voters to back anti-crime measures and economic reforms, say pollsters. The referendum will likely impact Noboa’s chances at reelection next year (he has a short presidency having assumed last year after snap elections). “Noboa has been faced with flagging approval ratings amid rising violence,” reports the New York Times.

But the move seems to have dynamited a governability pact that permitted Noboa to usher through several thorny projects in his first months in office, reports El País. Opposition parties allied with former President Rafael Correa (under whom Glas was vice president) might now campaign against the referendum. “Even if Noboa wins the consultation and referendum he will be obliged to pass the reforms to the Assembly, where he will encounter a blockade,” reports El País.