Mexico, Ecuador governments had been feuding before embassy raid

Equipo
By Equipo
8 Min Read

MEXICO CITY (AP) — A spat between Ecuadorian President Daniel Noboa and Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador spiraled into a full-blown diplomatic crisis when Ecuadorian police raided Mexico’s embassy Friday night in an extremely rare show of force that legal experts, presidents and diplomats have deemed a violation of long-established international accords.

With Noboa’s authorization, police broke into the embassy to arrest Ecuador’s former Vice President Jorge Glas, a convicted criminal and fugitive who had been living there since December. In the months before officers stormed the diplomatic facility, relations between the countries became strained and then reached breaking point.

Here’s what happened ahead of the raid:

Dec. 17, 2023: Glas enters embassy

Mexico’s Foreign Relations Secretariat announced that Glas, who was on parole, had shown up at the embassy in Quito, the capital, and asked for “entry and safeguard,” fearing for his “personal safety and freedom.” The agency said he had been allowed in “as a guest” based on Mexico’s legal framework of international protection of persons and other constitutional and legal norms.

Ecuador’s government immediately requested that Mexican officials ask Glas to leave the embassy.

Ecuador’s Attorney General Diana Salazar claimed that Glas was granted parole due to bribes that Ecuadorian drug trafficker Leandro Norero, known as “El Patrón,” had paid to judges and other officials across the judicial system. Salazar told a TV station that a conversation obtained from a cellphone linked to Norero described a payment as a “little favor” and that “they will collect it when Mr. Jorge Glas is president.”

Dec. 22, 2023: Ecuador warns Mexico about asylum

The Ecuadorian government in a statement said it would “deplore” the possibility of Glas being granted asylum and that, should that occur, it would act “with absolute firmness based on the high interests of the State”.

The foreign ministry also said it had summoned Mexico’s Ambassador Raquel Serur to inform her that granting asylum “would not be lawful” based on the 1954 Convention on Diplomatic Asylum.

The convention states that “It is not lawful to grant asylum to persons who, at the time of requesting it, are accused or prosecuted before competent ordinary courts.”

Dec. 28, 2023: Glas ordered back to prison

FILE - Ecuador's Vice President Jorge Glas leaves the General Attorney's Office after making a voluntary statement regarding his alleged connection with two corruption cases in Quito, Ecuador, Aug. 9, 2017. Ecuadorian police broke through the external doors of the Mexican Embassy in Quito, Friday, April 6, 2024, to arrest Glas, who had been residing there since December. (AP Photo/Dolores Ochoa, File)

Ecuador’s Vice President Jorge Glas leaves the General Attorney’s Office after making a voluntary statement regarding his alleged connection with two corruption cases in Quito, Ecuador, Aug. 9, 2017. (AP Photo/Dolores Ochoa, File)

Judge Melissa Muñoz ruled that Glas did not comply with one of the legal requirements for his parole, and she ordered his arrest. She ruled Glas must serve out the rest of his sentence, totaling two years and 11 months.

Glas had been convicted in two separate bribery and corruption cases, one tied to the Brazilian construction company Odebrecht and the other stemming from a scheme that collected bribes for public procurement. He was serving the sentences concurrently.

His lawyers had argued he was entitled to parole because he had served 60% of his eight-year sentence for his role in the bribery scheme. They said the law allows inmates parole if they have served 40% of their sentence and met other requirements.

Attorney Edison Loaiza said his client would not turn himself in because “his life and his integrity are at risk” in prison, where he said he had suffered threats and extortion. Loaiza added he would appeal Muñoz’s decision.

Glas is also under investigation over his management of funds meant for reconstruction efforts following a 2016 earthquake that killed hundreds of people.

March 1, 2024: Ecuador asks Mexico for permission to enter embassy

The Ecuadorian foreign ministry announced on the social media platform X that the government had requested “consent” from the Mexican Embassy “so that law enforcement agencies can comply with the order of the National Court of Justice” and arrest Glas.

It is unclear whether Mexico responded to the request by Ecuadorian officials.

April 3, 2024: Mexico’s president questions Noboa’s election

On a tangent in his morning press briefing, Mexico’s President López Obrador suggested that a candidate “suspiciously” won Ecuador’s elections after the assassination of presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio, who was shot leaving a campaign event in August.

While he did not mention Noboa by name, López Obrador suggested the candidate won the election by “taking advantage of the moment.” He added that violence remains widespread in Ecuador.

April 4, 2024: Ecuador expels Mexican ambassador

Ecuador’s government declared Ambassador Serur persona non grata because of López Obrador’s questioning of the election result and ordered her to leave the country. She had been Mexico’s ambassador to Ecuador since 2019.

López Obrador said he would send a military plane to bring the ambassador home.

April 5, 2024: Mexico grants asylum, prompting raid

Mexico’s foreign relations secretariat in a statement rejected the “increased presence of Ecuadorian police forces” outside its Quito embassy, characterizing it as “harassment” and “a flagrant violation of the Geneva Convention.” The Mexican government then granted Glas political asylum.

Hours later, police broke through the external doors of the embassy. Noboa authorized the raid on the grounds that Glas allegedly represented an imminent flight risk.

Glas’ attorney, Sonia Vera, told The Associated Press that officers broke into his room 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.”

That night, López Obrador announced his government had severed diplomatic ties with Ecuador, while Mexico’s foreign relations secretary said it will challenge the raid at the World Court in The Hague.

Ecuadorian authorities, hours later, would take Glas to a maximum-security prison in the port city of Guayaquil.

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Associated Press writer Megan Janetsky in Mexico City contributed to this report.

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