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Mexico, Nicaragua cut ties with Ecuador after embassy raid

April 7, 2024

President Lopez Obrador called the arrest of Ecuador's former VP Jorge Glas at Mexico's Quito embassy "a flagrant violation of international law." Nicaraguan President Ortega decried it as "unusual and reprehensible."

Ecuadorian police breaking into the Mexican Embassy in Quito, Ecuador, Friday, April 5, 2024
Ecuadorian police broke into the Mexican Embassy, where former Vice President Jorge Glas was seeking refugeImage: Dolores Ochoa/AP/picture alliance

Mexico suspended relations with Ecuador after security officials there raided its embassy late Friday night.

During the raid, Ecuadorian authorities arrested their country's former vice president, Jorge Glas, who had been holed up at the Mexican Embassy in Ecuador's capital Quito since a warrant was issued for his arrest in December.

Obrador: Ecuador raid is violation of Mexican sovereignty

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador instructed his foreign minister to cut diplomatic ties with Ecuador, calling the raid "a flagrant violation of international law and of Mexico's sovereignty."

Obrador said Glas was "a refugee and seeking asylum due to the persecution and harassment he is facing."

The Ecuadorian presidency confirmed Glas' arrest in a statement on X, formerly Twitter. 

"No criminal can be considered a politically persecuted person," the presidency said, stressing that Glas, convicted twice for corruption, "has been convicted with an enforceable sentence and had an arrest warrant issued by the competent authorities."

Bolivia, Chile, Brazil and others also condemn Ecuador's actions

Other countries in the region, including Bolivia, Chile, Cuba and Venezuela, expressed outrage at Ecuador's actions, while Honduras called on the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) to convene an emergency meeting over the matter.

Whereas Brazil's President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva expressed his "solidarity" with Mexican President Lopez Obrador, condemning the storming of the embassy in "the strongest possible terms," Nicaragua went a step further, following Mexico's lead by severing diplomatic ties with Quito. 

Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega decried the incident as "unusual and reprehensible."

The Organization of American States also criticized the arrest, saying that it rejected " any action that violates or puts at risk the inviolability of the premises of diplomatic missions and reiterates the obligation that all States have not to invoke norms of domestic law to justify non-compliance with their international obligations."

"In this context, it expresses solidarity with those who were victims of the inappropriate actions that affected the Mexican Embassy in Ecuador."

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was "alarmed" by the raid of the Mexican embassy in Quito, his spokesman, Stephane Dujarric said.

Guterres urged both countries involved to show "moderation" and "solve their differences through peaceful means."

Mexico-Ecuador ties in a downward spiral 

On Thursday, Mexican Ambassador Raquel Serur Smeke was declared "persona non grata" in Ecuador after Mexican President Lopez Obrador appeared to criticize Ecuador's recent elections, which President Daniel Noboa won.

Mexico granted Glas asylum just before Friday's raid.

Mexico's Foreign Ministry was planning to request safe passage for him to leave Ecuador.

Ecuador's former vice president Jorge Glas is released from prison in Latacunga, Ecuador on April 10, 2022.
Former Ecuadorian Vice President Jorge Glas argues he is being persecuted by the attorney general's officeImage: Raquel Jordan/Getty Images/AFP

Ecuadorian authorities had meanwhile sought Mexico's permission to enter its embassy and arrest the former vice president.

Glas was sentenced to six years in prison in 2017, after he was found guilty of receiving bribes from Brazilian construction company Odebrecht in exchange for granting it government contracts.

He served time for the conviction and was released from prison in November 2022, only to face another arrest warrant for allegedly diverting funds intended for reconstruction efforts following a devastating 2015 earthquake.

The former vice president, who had served under leftist Rafael Correa between 2013 and 2017, argues he is being persecuted by the attorney general's office.

Arrest of Jorge Glas is going to divide Ecuador: Journalist Adriana Noboa

js,rmt/lo (AFP, AP, Reuters)