Mexico yesterday demanded guarantees to allow its diplomatic staff to leave Ecuador safely after authorities stormed its embassy in Quito to arrest former vice-president Jorge Glas, who had been granted political asylum there.
The incident prompted Mexico to sever diplomatic ties with the South American nation, citing the “violation of international law”.
Images taken by AFP showed police special forces massed outside the embassy and at least one of them scaling its walls, which were already surrounded by police and military.
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said authorities “forcibly entered” the building to arrest Glas, accused of corruption.
“This is a flagrant violation of international law and the sovereignty of Mexico,” he said on social media platform X.
Foreign minister Alicia Barcena said the arrest was a “flagrant violation of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations” and Mexican personnel in the embassy had been injured during the incident.
“Mexico announces the immediate breaking of diplomatic relations with Ecuador,” she said on X.
She added that Mexican diplomatic personnel will immediately leave the South American country and asked Quito to “offer the necessary guarantees” for their movement.
Mexico had complained earlier in the day of “harassment” due to an increased police presence outside its Quito embassy.
According to an AFP photographer at the scene, Glas, 54, was moved yesterday from the holding facility he had spent the night in. The government said he was transferred to a maximum security prison in the port city of Guayaquil.
The former Ecuadoran vice-president — who served under leftist President Rafael Correa — sought refuge in the Mexican embassy last December after authorities issued a warrant for his arrest for alleged corruption.
His asylum request was formally granted on Friday, angering Quito and deepening the diplomatic dispute between the two Latin American nations.
Ecuadoran President Daniel Noboa’s government called the move an “illicit act,” while Mexico insisted it had granted political asylum to Glas “after a thorough analysis” of the situation.
Former president Correa, who has been exiled in Belgium since 2017 and was sentenced in absentia to eight years in prison for corruption, wrote on X that “not even in the worst dictatorships has a country’s embassy been violated.”
Local media showed Roberto Canseco, head of the Mexican diplomatic mission, running behind vehicles believed to be transporting Glas from the site, shouting: “It’s an outrage!”
Agents prevented Canseco from approaching one of the cars and in the ensuing struggle he is seen falling to the ground. Barcena later confirmed that Canseco and the rest of the mission were “well.”
Before the arrest, Ecuador said that according to international conventions, “it is not legal to grant asylum to people convicted or prosecuted for common crimes and by competent ordinary courts.”
Lopez Obrador had irked Quito with comments equating political violence in the two countries.
On Wednesday he drew a comparison between 2023 election violence in Ecuador, in which a presidential candidate was murdered, and crime in Mexico ahead of the June 2 legislative and presidential elections.
Lopez Obrador said violence and “manipulation” by some media caused a drop in the popularity of leftist candidate Luisa Gonzalez and the rise of Noboa.
The Ecuadoran government criticised his comments as offensive and said the country was still in mourning for the slain candidate, Fernando Villavicencio, a fierce opponent of corruption.
Glas was released from prison in November after serving time for corruption in a vast scandal involving the Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht. He faces another arrest warrant for allegedly diverting funds that were intended for reconstruction efforts after a devastating earthquake in 2016.
Left-wing governments in Venezuela, Cuba, Bolivia, Brazil and Honduras have all hit out at Ecuadoran security authorities over the incident.
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