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Ecuador declares Mexico ambassador persona non grata

April 5, 2024

The envoy was told to leave due to what Ecuador called "unfortunate" comments from Mexican President AMLO about the South American country's elections last year.

Security guard in front of entry to Mexican embassy in Quito, Ecuador
Ecuador has declared Mexico's ambassador persona non grata over comments made by Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez ObradorImage: Galo Paguay/AFP

Ecuador on Thursday declared Mexico's ambassador to Quito persona non grata and said she would be leaving the country "shortly."

The move comes over statements made by Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, known as "AMLO," about the 2023 presidential elections in Ecuador.

What do we know about Ecuador's decision to expel the Mexican ambassador?

Lopez Obrador had commented on the assassination of presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio, who was killed in the run up to an election in August 2023.

Villavicencio was shot dead on August 9 at a crowded political rally in the Ecuadorian capital, Quito, by a group of heavily armed men. He had been known for denouncing major cases of corruption.

In its Thursday statement, Ecuador's Foreign Ministry said that the South American country was "still grieving" Villavicencio's death.

The Ecuadorian Foreign Ministry invoked the principle of "non-intervention" in the affairs of other countries and the Vienna Convention as grounds for the departure of the Mexican ambassador. It stressed that the ambassador's expulsion did not mean that Ecuador was breaking diplomatic relations with Mexico.

Former President Rafael Correa derided the announcement in a post on X, formerly Twitter, saying: "Is this serious?"

Correa's former vice president, Jorge Glas, has been holed up in Mexico's embassy in Quito since late last year after a warrant was issued for his arrest.

What else did Lopez Obrador say?

Lopez Obrador compared Villavicencio's killing with violence during Mexico's current election season, with several local candidates having been gunned down.

Mexico's election is scheduled for June.

The Mexican leader suggested that a "female candidate" who was leading in the presidential race at one point was unfairly linked to the killing of Villavicencio.

Leftist candidate Luisa Gonzalez, who had worked under Correa, lost the October presidential runoff to Daniel Noboa.

Lopez Obrador blamed the media for what he called a "charged atmosphere of violence" in the run-up to the election.

"I'm talking about this so that owners of media outlets and those who are participating in these campaigns take responsibility," he said.

sdi/rt (Reuters, AP, EFE, AFP)