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International leaders condemn Ecuador after police raid on Mexico embassy

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Alicia Bercena, Mexico’s secretary of foreign relations, thanked the returning diplomats “for defending our embassy in Quito even at the risk of their own physical well-being”.

Jorge Glas, Ecuador’s former vice-president, in 2017. File photo: AFP

“Not even the dictator Pinochet had dared to enter the Mexican embassy in Chile,” she said Sunday, referring to the late Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet. “They entered violently and without authorisation, physically assaulting (diplomats). We energetically condemn it.”

Police broke through the external doors of the embassy to arrest Jorge Glas, a former vice-president who had been residing there since December. He had sought asylum after being indicted on corruption charges.

Mexico cuts ties with Ecuador after ex-VP Glas arrested in embassy raid

Barcena said Mexico plans to challenge the raid on Monday at the World Court in The Hague. She added that 18 countries in Latin America, 20 in Europe and the Organisation of American States have backed Mexico.

The Spanish foreign ministry in a statement Sunday said: “The entry by force into the Embassy of Mexico in Quito constitutes a violation of the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. We call for respect for international law and harmony between Mexico and Ecuador, brotherly countries to Spain and members of the Ibero-American community”.

A day earlier, the OAS in a statement reminded its members, which include Ecuador and Mexico, of their obligation not to “invoke norms of domestic law to justify non-compliance with their international obligations”.

US State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said “the United States condemns any violation of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, and takes very seriously the obligation of host countries under international law to respect the inviolability of diplomatic missions”. He called on the two countries to resolve their differences.

Diplomatic premises are considered foreign soil and “inviolable” under the Vienna treaties and host country law enforcement agencies are not allowed to enter without the permission of the ambassador.

People seeking asylum have lived anywhere from days to years at embassies around the world, including at Ecuador’s in London, which housed WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange for seven years as British police could not enter to arrest him.

An aerial view of the Mexican embassy in Quito, Ecuador. Photo: AFP

Glas on Saturday was taken from the attorney general’s office in Quito to the port city of Guayaquil, where he is being housed at a maximum-security prison.

Glas’ lawyer, Sonia Vera, told Associated Press that officers broke into his room in the Mexican embassy and he resisted when they attempted to put his hands behind his back. She said the officers then “knocked him to the floor, kicked him in the head, in the spine, in the legs, the hands”, and when he “couldn’t walk, they dragged him out”.

Vera on Sunday said the defence team had not been allowed to speak with Glas since his arrest.

Authorities are investigating Glas over alleged irregularities during his management of reconstruction efforts following a powerful earthquake in 2016 that killed hundreds of people. He was previously convicted on two separate bribery and corruption cases.

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President Daniel Noboa had not spoken publicly about the raid as of Sunday. On Saturday, Ecuador’s Foreign Minister Gabriela Sommerfeld told reporters that the decision to enter the embassy was made by Noboa after considering Glas’ “imminent flight risk” and exhausting all possibilities for diplomatic dialogue with Mexico.

Mexico granted Glas asylum hours before the raid. Sommerfeld said “it is not legal to grant asylum to people convicted of common crimes and by competent courts”.

Noboa became Ecuador’s president last year as the nation battled unprecedented crime tied to drug trafficking. He declared the country in an “internal armed conflict” in January and designated 20 drug-trafficking gangs as terrorist groups that the military had authorisation to “neutralise” within the bounds of international humanitarian law.

Noboa’s tenure ends in 2025 as he was only elected to finish the term of former President Guillermo Lasso.

Maria Dolores Mino, director of Ecuador’s independent Law and Justice Observatory and a law professor at the International University of Ecuador, said the raid was not only “extremely embarrassing” for Ecuador but also opens up the possibility of serious repercussions.

“The scope of a political sanction and its impact should not be underestimated,” Mino said. She added that although the process that Mexico will initiate before the World Court will take time “there will come a time when we have that sentence, which will include economic reparations that will have to be paid with Ecuadorians’ money”.

Additional reporting by Agence France-Presse

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