Breach of convention: On the Ecuador-Mexico tensions 

Ecuador should stay within the limits of international laws 

April 15, 2024 12:10 am | Updated 01:28 pm IST

Ecuador’s raid on April 5 at the Mexico embassy in Quito is a serious violation of the Vienna Convention on diplomatic relations on which nations operate their missions in foreign lands. The raid was to arrest Jorge David Glas, a former Vice-President in the administration of leftist and former President Rafael Correa, who has been sentenced for corruption. Mr. Correa, now living in Belgium, has also been convicted for corruption. Mr. Glas and Mr. Correa say the cases against them are politically motivated. But for Ecuador’s President Daniel Noboa, the cases against the former elites were part of his larger crusade against corruption. Tensions were high between the two countries after Mr. Glas took refuge in the Mexican embassy in Quito in December, a month after Mr. Noboa took office. Last week, Ecuador declared Mexico’s Ambassador Raquel Serur Smeke as persona non grata after Mexico’s leftist President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s comments that were critical of Ecuador’s 2023 elections. Mexico also decided to grant asylum to Mr. Glas, which angered Ecuador. It termed the decision illegal as Mr. Glas was facing cases in the country and, soon after, sent armed police officers to the embassy to arrest him, triggering a major diplomatic crisis. Mexico, which says its sovereignty has been breached, has now moved the International Court of Justice in the Netherlands, demanding the expulsion of Ecuador from the UN.

The embassy raid comes at a time when President Noboa is facing increased criticism at home over rising gang violence. He came to power promising to tackle corruption and gang violence. Last year’s presidential election was marred by deadly violence when presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio was assassinated during the campaign in Quito. Mr. Noboa says he stays committed to fighting gangs and restoring order in Ecuador’s cities, but his approval rating has sunk amid growing violence, especially in the coastal city of Guayaquil, which was overrun by gangs in January. The situation is so bad in Ecuador that during the Easter weekend, the country of 18 million people saw over 100 murders. Critics say Mr. Noboa is using the diplomatic crisis with Mexico to strengthen his political fortunes. But he has merely triggered a new crisis without addressing the actual one. Ecuadorians are set to vote in a referendum next week that would give the government increased security powers to fight gang violence. The government has to get its act together in the war against organised violence, but it should do that from within the limits of domestic and international laws. Going rogue inside the embassy of a neighbouring country in the name of fighting corruption is not going to help Ecuador in tackling the myriad challenges it is facing.

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