Venezuela closes embassy in Ecuador to protest raid on Mexican embassy there

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro ordered the closure of his country’s embassy and consulates in Ecuador on Tuesday in solidarity with Mexico in its protest over a raid by Ecuadorian authorities on the Mexican embassy in Quito.

Venezuela also “fully supports” Mexico’s request to have the United Nations suspend Ecuador from the world body, Maduro said during a virtual meeting of the leaders of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States.

Ecuadorian President Daniel Noboa ordered authorities to raid the Mexican diplomatic outpost April 5 to arrest the country’s former Vice President Jorge Glas, a convicted criminal and fugitive who was holed up at the embassy since December. Mexico granted him asylum hours before the raid.

The extraordinarily unusual use of force drew immediate condemnation from governments around the world, because diplomatic premises are considered foreign soil and “inviolable” under the Vienna treatie s.

Noboa has said he authorized the raid “to protect national security.” He argued that Glas was wanted for his criminal convictions for corruption and not political reasons, and accused Mexico of violating the Vienna treaties by granting asylum to someone convicted of “very serious crimes.”

Mexico immediately expressed its outrage over the raid, severed diplomatic relations with Ecuador and recalled its diplomatic mission.

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said Tuesday before the meeting of the regional body that Mexico wants Ecuador’s temporary expulsion from the United Nations until it apologizes and admits that it violated Mexico’s sovereignty in the embassy raid.

“It was a very serious affair,” López Obrador said.

Mexico had hoped to use the CELAC meeting to rally a unified front to advance its case both at the U.N. and before the International Court of Justice.

Maduro said he has ordered all diplomatic personnel back to Venezuela “until international law is expressly restored in Ecuador.”

“Venezuela fully supports Mexico’s proposal to expel Ecuador from the United Nations organization until it apologizes to the international community and restores the situation to its original legal status,” Maduro said.

Maduro said that Glas, who is now being held at a maximum-security prison in the port city of Guayaquil, “must be returned to the Mexican embassy and have his political asylum recognized.”

Noboa drew additional criticism Tuesday for not appearing at the virtual gathering of regional leaders. He posted an Instagram video promoting improvements to law enforcement infrastructure and another one announcing an emergency declaration covering the country’s electricity sector amid hours-long power outages in Quito.

“He should have shown up and assumed responsibility for himself in front of Ecuador, in front of Latin America, in front of the Caribbean, in front of the world and he has not shown his face,” Maduro said. “I can say from Venezuela that he has gone into hiding and the people of Ecuador should know it.”

Mexico’s embassy in Quito appeared already closed Tuesday afternoon. Mexico’s Foreign Affairs Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Venezuela’s announcement.

Under Maduro’s 11-year presidency, more than 7.7 million Venezuelans have left their home country, and most have settled elsewhere in Latin America and in the Caribbean. Ecuador has the sixth largest concentration of Venezuelan migrants.

Ecuadorian officials and nongovernmental organizations that assist migrants estimate that 475,000 Venezuelans live in Ecuador. Of those more than 231,000 live permanently and legally there, according to Ecuador’s 2023 census.

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