Sun. May 26th, 2024

I sat down with Ecuador’s leader as a major diplomatic dispute raged. This is what he said

Emily Hudson By Emily Hudson May13,2024
Key Points
  • Ecuadorian President Daniel Noboa’s order to raid Mexico’s embassy has provoked an international outcry.
  • SBS World News was granted an exclusive interview with Noboa.
  • Noboa said he has no regrets over the Mexico incident.
Ecuador’s president Daniel Noboa has thrust his country into the international spotlight over the past several days as never before. His order to raid Mexico’s embassy in the Ecuadorian capital Quito to arrest his country’s former vice president has provoked an international outcry.
So why did he do it? I am the first international broadcast journalist to get access to Ecuador’s leader since the crisis broke. I travelled with the 36-year-old hoping to find answers.
En route to the provincial town of Puyo we fly over terrain both dramatic and wild but while Noboa is applauded when he visits remote communities, the son of Ecuador’s richest man is nonetheless surrounded by security.

Later at the presidential palace in Quito we sat down for a rare interview.

A man wearing sunglasses and green headphones

Ecuadorian President Daniel Noboa says he made the right decision, after ordering a raid on Mexico’s embassy that resulted in violent clashes and angered the international community. Source: SBS News / Prue Lewarne

I asked Noboa: “You’ve been condemned by every Latin American country, except for El Salvador, and the United States, your staunch ally, condemned what happened at the embassy. So the obvious question is, Mr President, do you have any regrets?”

“I think we’re on the right side of history and also, they also condemn the fact that some governments use their embassies as, when with a facade of a political refugee, but it’s actually for impunity. It’s actually to save the criminals from their sentence.”

What happened during Ecuador’s embassy raid?

Mexico’s embassy in Ecuador became the epicentre of an international dispute after Mexico first provided refuge, then asylum, to former Ecuadorean vice president Jorge Glas. Glas was twice convicted for corruption and was also facing embezzlement charges.
Earlier this month, Ecuadorean authorities raided the embassy to arrest him. Glas is now in jail in Ecuador.

In Noboa’s words: “In this case, Jorge Glas had a sentence. He had a fair trial. He had a sentence and he had to be in jail and that’s what our Justice Department thought and also what the judicial branch of Ecuador thought. I have no regrets.”

Rear view of  a small group of police special forces in black uniforms outside a compound with white walls

Ecuadorian police special forces stormed the Mexican embassy in Quito to arrest Ecuador’s former vice president Jorge Glas on 5 April, sparking a major diplomatic incident. Source: AFP / Alberto Suarez/AFP via Getty Images

Mexico has severed diplomatic ties with Ecuador and it has asked the International Court of Justice to suspend Ecuador as a member of the United Nations until it issues: “a public apology recognising its violations to the fundamental principles and norms of international law” and agrees to reparations.

Under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, an international treaty in force for six decades, embassies are supposed to be inviolable.

I asked Noboa: “Do you think everyone else is wrong? Do you think the Vienna Convention needs to be reworked?”

State of emergency declared in Ecuador amid wave of violence image
He said it’s not only the Vienna Convention.
“We’re talking about also the Caracas Treaty about political asylum which states clearly that no nation can give political asylum to someone that has a sentence because in that case we’re actually getting involved in sovereignty, number one; number two, in the judicial system of different nations.
“So it’s actually a violation, first, by the Mexican government, and another violation followed that but we had to act. We had to make the decision.”

He said there was also “a plan to escape” that he was made aware of.

Ecuador’s upcoming referendum

Ecuador is about to hold a referendum on measures to tighten security.
I asked Noboa if he wants to be seen as a “tough guy”.
He said: “Not necessarily. I want to be seen as someone that is fair. Not necessarily the tough guy.”
He said raiding the embassy was a hard decision to make and some advisers were telling him not to do it.
“I had to make the final decision,” Noboa said.

“It was my responsibility. If Glas would have escaped using vehicles from the embassy and planes from the Mexican government then I would have been too weak for everyone. Now that I caught the guy, I’m too strong. So it’s kind of difficult to please everybody but the vast majority of the people in Ecuador are happy with my decision.”

Guards stand outside a fenced off building

Mexican police agents place metallic fences outside the Ecuadorian embassy facilities in Mexico City. Source: AAP / EPA

A video that Mexico released from within the embassy shows violent clashes with police officers.

Extreme violence has become commonplace in Ecuador.
Drug trafficking has spawned a crime wave, making Ecuador one of the most dangerous nations in Latin America.
When Noboa toured flood-damaged homes in Quito the day before, security was at every vantage point.

“I think there is evidence that there are Mexican cartels operating in Ecuador and in Colombia, as well as in Venezuela,” the president said.

Ecuador Struggles With Gang Violence Which Driving Immigration To U.S.

Soldiers search a neighbourhood for illegal weapons during an anti-gang operation in Guayaquil, Ecuador, in February. Source: Getty / John Moore

I asked him if this is why he is cross with Mexico.

“I don’t have a cross with Mexico. I think they had a cross with our judicial system. They’re not happy with it and I think that’s what started this whole political and diplomatic disagreement.”
Daniel Noboa shows no emotion on the return flight to Quito.
His term as president runs until May next year.
I asked him how he plans to resolve this dispute with Mexico.
“I will invite President Obrador to have a ceviche (fish dish), we can probably have some tacos together, and we can talk,” he said.

“Whenever he’s ready.” 

Emily Hudson

By Emily Hudson

Emily is a talented author who has published several bestselling novels in the mystery genre. With a knack for creating gripping plotlines and intriguing characters, Emily's works have captivated readers worldwide.

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One thought on “I sat down with Ecuador’s leader as a major diplomatic dispute raged. This is what he said”
  1. Why did Ecuadorian President Daniel Noboa decide to raid Mexico’s embassy amid the international outcry? Was it the right decision, and does he have any regrets regarding the incident?

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