• Diplomacy Tension grows between Ecuador and Argentina over the escape of a former minister of Correa
  • Latin America Argentina and Ecuador on the verge of diplomatic rupture by a former minister of Rafael Correa convicted of corruption

Relations between Argentina and Ecuador were more than battered on Tuesday after a harsh exchange of letters between Presidents Alberto Fernández and Guillermo Lasso. The background? A former minister of Rafael Correa, convicted of corruption, who after three years took refuge in the Argentine embassy in Quito appeared in Venezuela.

"Generating an incident by putting the ideology of its officials ahead of what our peoples need is a real mistake," Lasso wrote in his letter to Fernández, revealed by Clarín.

"You should not have authorized the granting of political asylum to a person sentenced by the Ecuadorian justice, because that is expressly prohibited by Article III of the Caracas Convention, even if they wanted to give it 'a humanitarian character.'"

María de los Ángeles Duarte Pesantes, Correa's Minister of Public Works between 2010 and 2014, was sentenced to eight years in prison for having been part of a gang that bribed contracts with the State, a maneuver that involved 7.3 million dollars. In August 2020, the former minister, who has a minor son and Argentine, went to the Argentine embassy and asked for refuge. He remained there until, days ago, he left the Argentine diplomatic legation and managed to reach Venezuela, where he met with the Argentine ambassador.

The Ecuadorians, convinced that Gabriel Fuks, the Argentine ambassador in Quito, provided logistical support to Duarte Pesantes to escape from the country, expelled the Argentine diplomatic representative. Buenos Aires responded by doing the same with the Ecuadorian. This week, the tension escalated to the level of the two presidents. The first spark was generated by Fernández, who sent a letter that Lasso considered offensive.

"The excessive reaction of Mr. President to expel the Argentine ambassador is what really hurts the relationship of our peoples," Fernández wrote to his counterpart, in a letter that he disseminated on his social networks.

"President Guillermo Lasso, receive these words with the sincere affection of always. Make the effort not to mix this incident product of the incompetence of officials of the Ecuadorian State with the love that binds our peoples, "added the Argentine head of state.

Lasso did not let those words of Fernández pass. "Among Heads of State there is no room for the condescension you show in suggesting that my decision to declare your former ambassador persona non grata could have been taken without sufficient reflection and recommending me to 'correct the mistake.'"

Lasso's fury with Fernández, with whom he had initially established a good relationship beyond their political differences, is enhanced by Correa's presence in Buenos Aires. Lasso is going through a moment of serious political weakness, with calls for impeachment and cracks in his support base.

The former Ecuadorian president attended a meeting of the Puebla Group and mocked Lasso: "I apologize for the injustice of a government turned into a laughing stock of the continent. Soon we will recover Ecuador for the Great Homeland."

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  • Argentina
  • Ecuador
  • Venezuela
  • Rafael Correa