Biden urged to demand immediate release of Ecuador’s former VP

The Biden administration on Sunday faced calls to demand the immediate release of Ecuador’s former vice president after Ecuadorian police stormedMexico’s embassy in Quito and forcibly seized the ex-official, a flagrant breach of the 1961 Vienna Convention.

“Ecuador’s government has committed a very serious crime, one that threatens the security of embassies and diplomats throughout the world—not least those of the United States, which has threats to its embassies in much of the world,” said Mark Weisbrot, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR). “The international community cannot allow this to happen.”

The move sparked a diplomatic crisis and global outcry, with Latin American leaders slamming the right-wing Ecuadorian government for its “unacceptable infringement” on Mexico’s sovereignty and “kidnapping” of Jorge Glas, who served as vice president under Ecuador’s leftist former president Rafael Correa. Glas has reportedly been transferred to a maximum-security prison.

Correa supported lawmaker Luisa González in Ecuador’s 2023 presidential contest, which she lost to President Daniel Noboa, the son of the richest man in Ecuador.

“The United States is providing crucial diplomatic, military, and material support to Ecuador.”

The illegal raid of Mexico’s embassy late Friday came hours after the Mexican government granted political asylum to Glas, who has been living in the embassy since December, when he announced he would appeal a judge’s decision ordering him back to jail. Glas has been convicted of corruption and imprisoned repeatedly in recent years; the former vice president has said the charges are politically motivated.

CEPR noted Sunday that Ecuadorian Attorney General Diana Salazar “has long engaged in a campaign of lawfare and political persecution against former president Rafael Correa and other figures from the former Correa government.”

“The charges against Correa have been shown to have so little credibility, and the evidence is so lacking, that Interpol for years has refused to act on Ecuador’s red notice against him,” the group said. “Belgium has granted him political asylum, and he can travel freely to almost anywhere in the world without fear of extradition. And last year, a Brazilian Supreme Court judge annulled evidence against Glas after authorities admitted it may have been tampered with.”

Weisbrot stressed in his statement that “the United States is providing crucial diplomatic, military, and material support to Ecuador.”

“Canada is currently seeking a ‘free trade’ agreement with Ecuador,” Weisbrot added. “All of this should be suspended until Ecuador releases its former vice president, who it has kidnapped from Mexico’s embassy.”

As the Financial Timesreported Sunday, Ecuador’s right-wing president “is enjoying soaring popularity among Ecuadoreans and strong support from Washington after declaring an all-out war on drug trafficking.” In February, the Biden administration declared its “unwavering support” for Ecuador’s government and announced “$2.4 million in additional vehicles and security equipment to support the work of police.”

FT noted that Noboa, the scion of a banana empire, has invoked “emergency powers to put troops on the streets and sent the army to take control of gang-ridden jails, using tactics partly borrowed from El Salvador’s strongman leader Nayib Bukele.”

While Noboa’s “aggressive response initially reduced violence and brought a precarious sense of safety to places like Guayaquil,” The New York Timesobserved, the “stability did not last.”

“Over the Easter holiday, there were 137 murders in Ecuador, and kidnappings and extortion have worsened,” the Times reported.

Thus far, the Biden administration’s response to Ecuador’s raid on Mexico’s embassy has been tepid. In a social media post late Saturday, U.S. State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller wrote that the administration “condemns any violation of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, which says that “agents of the receiving state may not enter” embassies “except with the consent of the head of mission.”

“We encourage our partners Mexico and Ecuador to resolve their differences in accord with international norms,” Miller added.

Ecuadorian police assaulted Roberto Canseco, Mexico’s acting ambassador, during Friday’s raid.

“This is totally unacceptable,” the career diplomat told reporters. “They have hit me, they have pushed me to the ground. I physically tried to prevent them from entering. They searched the Mexican embassy in Quito like criminals.”

From Common Dreams.