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Maria de los Angeles Duarte: Diplomatic conflict between Ecuador and Argentina: Ambassadors expelled after ex-minister escapes |  international

Maria de los Angeles Duarte: Diplomatic conflict between Ecuador and Argentina: Ambassadors expelled after ex-minister escapes | international

Residence of the Argentine Embassy in Ecuador.Jose Jacome (EFE)

On Tuesday, the Ecuadorean government decided to expel the Argentine ambassador, after a former minister convicted of corruption fled the diplomatic mission in which she had taken refuge. Andean State Councilor Juan Carlos Holguín reports that the decision to declare Ambassador Gabriel Fox persona non grata was taken after several meetings during which they wanted to explain how the former Minister of Transport, María de los Angeles Duarte, had fled Argentina. Embassy in Quito. Considering that there are “contradictions in some information”, Holguin considers that “the principle of good faith and mutual trust between states” has been violated. Alberto Fernandez’s government announced soon after that it would act in kind, expelling the Ecuadorian ambassador in Buenos Aires.

Duarte is now in Venezuela and was received by Ambassador Oscar Laborde and officials of the Argentine consulate in Caracas, after he fled on Friday, March 10, from the diplomatic residence in Quito. The Ecuadorian police are investigating how the former official escaped, but according to a statement from the Argentine Ministry of Foreign Affairs, “Last weekend there was no presence in the wing of the building where Duarte lived, far from the official residence of the Argentine representative, and for this reason they initiated a procedure Rounds corresponding to the various dependencies, without specifying where they are located.

The Ecuadorean Ministry of Foreign Affairs learned of the leak on Monday afternoon and so far the Argentine diplomatic office has refused to provide more information and security videos about Duarte. In addition, the Argentine government transcripts did not help explain how and who helped the former minister, who was sentenced to eight years in prison for bribery, escape.

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Ecuador has also recalled its ambassador to Argentina, Xavier Monge, for consultations, who will arrive in the country within the next few hours. The foreign minister noted that there is no record that Duarte left the country on a regular basis, nor that he did so with Colombia.

Foreign Minister Holguín hopes that “relationships can be rebuilt at a time when a high-level channel of dialogue is established that will allow the restoration of that goodwill that followed the actions of the countries” and made it clear that after the departure of Ambassador Fox, Argentina may present a new representative for the country. Only then, he adds, will they analyze the situation.

Duarte was Minister of Transport in the government of Rafael Correa and, according to the Attorney General’s Office, was part of the structure that collected private funds from the Brazilian construction company Odebrecht in exchange for government contracts. In the same case, two other ministers, former Vice President Jorge Glas and former President Rafael Correa himself, were judged. All of them declared themselves victims of political persecution.

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The policy arrived at the headquarters of the Argentine Embassy, ​​in Quito, on August 12, 2020 to avoid serving the sentence imposed, and was received by the Argentine diplomatic delegation as a guest for humanitarian reasons. In December 2022, Argentina granted Duarte diplomatic asylum with which she hoped to obtain safe clearance so that the convicted corruption official could leave the country. But the Ecuadorian authorities rejected the request.

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The government of Alberto Fernandez ordered the expulsion of the Ecuadorean ambassador in Buenos Aires by explaining its “surprise and deep sadness” at the decision of the executive director of Guillermo Lasso, whom he accuses of “escalating” the existing dispute over the status of ministries and “taking it to the level of prejudice in bilateral relations”. A statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirms that the former minister left the diplomatic mission “without consulting or prior notice to any authority in the Argentine embassy” and makes clear that “there is no international standard obligating the Argentine diplomatic authorities to exercise the preventive detention of Ms. Duarte.” Instead, the letter states that What happened was due to the “ineffectiveness of the Ecuadorian authorities”.

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