Monday, June 17, 2024

Mexico breaks diplomatic relations with Ecuador over police raid of embassy

The Mexican government broke diplomatic relations with Ecuador on Saturday after Ecuadorian police broke into the Mexican Embassy in Quito on Friday night, seeking to detain a former vice president of the South American nation who had been promised asylum in Mexico.

The Foreign Affairs Ministry (SRE) announced the decision, saying that it was made on the instructions of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who called the forcible entry of police to the embassy “a flagrant violation of international law and Mexico’s sovereignty.”

Jorge Glas Espinel headshot
Former Ecuadorian vice president Jorge Glas had already been convicted of corruption by Ecuadorian courts at the time of his arrest. (Wikimedia Commons)

“In consultation with the president of Mexico … and in view of the flagrant and serious violation of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, in particular of the principle of inviolability of Mexico’s diplomatic premises and personnel, and the basic rules of international coexistence, Mexico announces that it is immediately breaking diplomatic relations with Ecuador,” said Foreign Minister Alicia Bárcena.

“Mexico strongly condemns the acts of violence committed against the deputy chief of mission, Roberto Canseco Martínez, and the arbitrary arrest of former vice president Jorge Glas Espinel, who was in the embassy and seeking political asylum due to the persecution he has been experiencing,” the SRE said.

The New York Times described the events in Quito — during which Canseco was pushed to the ground by police — as “a rare instance of one government entering another’s embassy to make an arrest.”

In a post to the X social media platform that was “reposted” by Bárcena, human rights lawyer Aitor Martínez said that Mexico’s Embassy in Chile gave asylum to dozens of people during the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet.

Así sometieron a Roberto Canseco en Ecuador

Recordings of Mexican diplomat Roberto Canseco’s impassioned defense of the embassy were shared widely on social media after the raid.

“Pinochet respected international conventions. The documents from the time attached here show that Daniel Noboa has crossed boundaries that not even Pinochet dared to cross,” Martínez wrote.

A day after the Mexican government severed ties with its South American neighbor, Mexico’s diplomatic personnel in Ecuador returned to Mexico. Among the 18 members of the diplomatic corps who arrived at the Mexico City airport on Sunday was Ambassador Raquel Serur Smeke, who was declared a persona non grata by Ecuadorian authorities on Thursday after López Obrador insinuated that Noboa benefited from the assassination of a rival candidate during last year’s presidential elections in the South American nation.

“I would like to commend all the officials and their families … who truly defended our embassy in Quito, even risking their own safety,” Bárcena said at the airport after welcoming the returning diplomatic staff.

“… Can you imagine what it is like to leave your life, to leave a life that you had planned in a country and to have 48 hours to leave the country? It is a shock, … this is something that has never happened in Mexico’s history and, I would say, in the recent history of Latin America, not even in the worst moments of dictatorships,” added the foreign minister.

Raquel Serur, Mexican ambassador to Ecuador
Former Mexican ambassador to Ecuador Raquel Serur was declared a persona non grata in her country of residence last week. (Raquel Serur/X)

“We strongly condemn the violent intrusion of Ecuadorian security personnel into our embassy. … We will go to all the appropriate multilateral, regional and international forums so that this is absolutely condemned by the entire international community,” Bárcena said, specifically noting that Mexico would file a complaint with the International Court of Justice.

Glas — who served as vice president under two presidents, Rafael Correa (2007-17) and Lenín Moreno (2017-21) — was arrested four months after taking up residence in the Mexican Embassy in a move akin to Wikileaks founder Julian Assange’s habitation in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London.

The former official has already been sentenced to prison on corruption charges and a warrant had been issued for his arrest, President Noboa’s office said in a statement after the arrest on Friday night.

Last month, Mexico denied the Ecuadorian government’s request to enter the Quito embassy to arrest Glas, and announced Friday morning that it would grant the former vice president asylum. López Obrador said that the ex-official had faced “persecution” and “harassment” in Ecuador.

Before Glas’s arrest, the SRE requested that Ecuador guarantee safe conduct out of the country and officially objected to the police presence around its embassy, calling it a flagrant violation of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.

For its part, the Ecuadorian president’s office asserted that “every embassy” has only one purpose: “to serve as a diplomatic space with the objective of strengthening relations between countries.”

Ecuadorian President Daniel Noboa
Ecuadorian President Daniel Noboa. (Daniel Noboa Azin/Facebook)

“No criminal can be considered a politically persecuted person,” the office said, adding that “the diplomatic mission harboring Jorge Glas” had “abused the immunities and privileges” granted to it and gave the former vice president “diplomatic asylum contrary to the conventional legal framework.”

For those reasons, authorities proceeded with the “capture” of the ex-official, the statement said. Glas was subsequently transported to a high-security prison.

“Ecuador is a sovereign country and we’re not going to allow any criminal to go unpunished,” the president’s office said.

“We reiterate our respect for the Mexican people who share our commitment for the fight against the corruption that affects our countries,” added the statement from the office of President Noboa, who took office in late November and declared a state of emergency in January in recognition of “an internal armed conflict” in Ecuador.

Mexico News Daily 


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