Monday, May 20, 2024

Mexico to file complaint against Ecuador with the International Court of Justice

Mexico will file a complaint against Ecuador with the International Court of Justice (ICJ) over last week’s police raid on the Mexican embassy in Quito on Thursday, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) said at his Wednesday morning press conference.

Mexico severed its diplomatic relations with Ecuador on Saturday after police broke into the Mexican Embassy on Friday night to arrest former Ecuadorian vice president Jorge Glas, who was in office from 2013 to 2017 but had been promised asylum in Mexico. Ambassador Raquel Serur Smeke — whom Ecuador declared a persona non grata before the raid — and other diplomatic personnel returned to Mexico on Sunday.

Footage released by the Mexican government showing the raid by Ecuadorian forces on Mexico’s embassy in Quito on Friday. (Ministry of Foreign Affairs/X)

Glas has been twice convicted for corruption in Ecuador and is currently facing new charges that he misused earthquake reconstruction funds. He has long claimed that the corruption charges leveled against him have been politically motivated, an allegation Ecuador’s government denies.

Mexican Foreign Affairs Minister Alicia Bárcena explained that the decision to break ties with the South American nation was taken “in view of [Ecuador’s] 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.”

López Obrador, who called the forcible entry to the embassy “a flagrant violation of international law and Mexico’s sovereignty, said Wednesday that there has been a lot of domestic and international “solidarity” with Mexico following last Friday’s events.

“Our people condemn this violation of our sovereignty, the vast majority of Mexicans don’t agree with the authoritarian behavior of the government of Ecuador. … The majority of governments around the world condemn these actions,” said AMLO, who on Tuesday accused the United States and Canada of being “very ambiguous” in their positions on the incident.

U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan subsequently condemned Ecuador’s actions, saying that “the Ecuadorian government disregarded its obligations under international law as a host state to respect the inviolability of diplomatic missions.”

López Obrador noted that the Organization of American States — a regional body of 32 countries — also spoke out against Ecuador.

Mexico's foreign affairs minister hugs the deputy chief of Mexico's Quito, Ecuador, mission
Minister of Foreign Affairs Alicia Bárcena hugs Mexico’s deputy chief of the Mexican diplomatic mission in Quito, Roberto Canseco Martínez, who returned to Mexico on Sunday. Canseco was assaulted by Ecuadorian forces after he tried to stop the arrest of Jorge Glas. (Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

“All the governments represented — and even Secretary [General] Luis Almago, who has had a very conservative, antidemocratic attitude — condemned the incident because the truth is, it’s unjustifiable,” López Obrador said.

At a meeting on Tuesday of foreign ministers of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), Bárcena urged CELAC member states to “back the lawsuit that we will bring to the International Court of Justice, as well as the letter that we will send to the UN Secretary-General condemning these appalling events.”

Earlier on Tuesday, López Obrador presented security camera footage of the police raid, showing one heavily armed officer scaling the front wall of the embassy complex and several police carrying Glas out of the embassy. The former vice president had been living there since December.

Attempts by the deputy chief of mission Roberto Canseco Martínez to stop the police operation were fruitless. He was restrained and assaulted by police on repeated occasions.

Glas, who was vice president during governments led by former Ecuadorian presidents Rafael Correa and Lenín Moreno, was taken away in one of two vehicles that entered the embassy complex.

“This is what is going to be reported [to the ICJ],” López Obrador told reporters at the conclusion of the video.

Sullivan said that the U.S. government has reviewed the footage and believes that Ecuador’s actions were wrong and violated the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. He also said that the U.S. government had asked Ecuador to work with Mexico to find a solution to the dispute between the two countries.

On Wednesday, López Obrador thanked U.S. President Joe Biden for “rectifying” the U.S. government’s position with the “more forceful declaration” issued by Sullivan. He added that he was waiting for a similar move from Canada, Mexico’s other North American commercial partner under the USMCA free trade pact.

The Canadian government said on Saturday that it was “deeply concerned at Ecuador’s apparent breach of the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations by entering the Embassy of Mexico without authorization.”

López Obrador said Tuesday that he wasn’t happy with Canada’s use of the word “apparent.”

“We don’t allow that; we don’t accept it,” he said.

Former vice president of Ecuador Jorge Glas speaking into a microphone
Former vice president of Ecuador Jorge Glas (2013-2017) back in 2015, when he was serving under President Rafael Correa. (Micaela Ayala/Flicker)

Earlier this week, opposition presidential candidate Xóchitl Gálvez weighed into the debate over the raid on the Mexican Embassy. The candidate condemned “what happened in Ecuador” before declaring that “[Mexican] embassies in my government won’t be caves for criminals.”

“I wouldn’t give asylum to anyone accused in the Odebrecht case, for example,” she said, referring to corruption scandals involving the Brazilian construction company and ex-officials in several Latin American countries, including Glas in Ecuador and former Pemex CEO Emilio Lozoya in Mexico.

On X social media platform, Morena presidential candidate Claudia Sheinbaum said that seeing the video López Obrador made public “provokes enormous indignation” and supported the decision for Mexico to cut diplomatic ties with Ecuador.

The office of Ecuadorian President Daniel Noboa said in a statement issued shortly after the Friday night raid that “no criminal can be considered a politically persecuted person” and 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.

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

With reports from La Jornada, El Universal and Reuters

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