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Venezuela shuts Ecuador diplomatic missions over raid

A handout picture released by the Venezuelan authorities shows President Nicolas Maduro speaking during a virtual summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States
A handout picture released by the Venezuelan authorities shows President Nicolas Maduro speaking during a virtual summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States - Copyright AFP DAVID GRAY
A handout picture released by the Venezuelan authorities shows President Nicolas Maduro speaking during a virtual summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States - Copyright AFP DAVID GRAY

Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro said Tuesday he had ordered the closure of his country’s diplomatic missions in Ecuador after a raid on the Mexican embassy in Quito.

Maduro said he had ordered “diplomatic personnel to return to Venezuela immediately… until international law is restored in Ecuador.”

He was speaking during a virtual summit of CELAC, the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, in which presidents from across the region are mulling possible sanctions against Ecuador.

“We strongly condemn” the raid, said Honduran President Xiomara Castro, who currently chairs the bloc, describing the incident as “barbaric.”

Quito’s security forces stormed the Mexican embassy on April 5 to arrest former Ecuadoran vice president Jorge Glas, who is wanted on corruption charges and had been granted asylum by Mexico.

Maduro demanded that Glas be freed from the maximum security prison where he is now being held and handed over to Mexico.

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva proposed creating a commission to review Glas’s health.

The rare incursion on diplomatic territory sparked an international outcry, and led Mexico to break ties with Ecuador, pulling its diplomats out of the country.

Mexico has filed a lawsuit against Ecuador at the International Court of Justice in The Hague, saying it wants the country suspended from the United Nations.

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador urged CELAC member states to support his country by co-signing its complaint at the UN court.

Several Latin American states, Spain, the European Union, United States and the UN chief have condemned the embassy intrusion as a violation of the 1961 Vienna Convention governing diplomatic relations.

Ecuadoran President Daniel Noboa has defended the embassy raid as necessary to detain Glas because he posed a flight risk, saying he was willing to “resolve any difference” with Mexico, though an Ecuadoran court has since ruled the operation was “illegal and arbitrary.”¬†

The high court ruling said the arrest was illegal since security forces had no warrant to enter the embassy. But the court added Glas would remain in a high security prison in the port of Guayaquil pending two other cases of corruption.

Glas, who served as vice president from 2013 to 2017, faces graft charges stemming from his time in office.

Noboa did not participate in Tuesday’s regional meeting but was represented by his foreign minister, Gabriela Sommerfeld.

With tensions running high, Ecuadoran electoral authorities said they were suspending voting by nationals living in Mexico in an April 21 referendum on whether to take tougher measures against crime.

The National Electoral Council said there was not enough time to organize private security to protect the more than 1,300 Ecuadoran voters living in Mexico City and the northern city of Monterrey.

AFP
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With 2,400 staff representing 100 different nationalities, AFP covers the world as a leading global news agency. AFP provides fast, comprehensive and verified coverage of the issues affecting our daily lives.

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