Venezuela shuts Ecuador diplomatic missions over raid

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro speaks during a virtual summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, in Caracas, Venezuela, April 16, 2024. /CFP

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro speaks during a virtual summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, in Caracas, Venezuela, April 16, 2024. /CFP

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said on Tuesday he had ordered the closure of his country’s diplomatic missions in Ecuador after a raid on the Mexican embassy in Quito. 

Maduro said he had ordered “diplomatic personnel to return to Venezuela immediately until international law is restored in Ecuador.”

He was speaking during a virtual summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), in which leaders from across the region are mulling possible sanctions against Ecuador.

“We strongly condemn” the raid, said Honduran President Xiomara Castro, who currently chairs the bloc, describing the incident as “barbaric.”

Quito’s security forces stormed the Mexican embassy on April 5 to arrest Ecuador’s former Vice President Jorge Glas, who is wanted on corruption charges and had been granted asylum by Mexico.

Military and police officers deploy a security operation during the exit of Ecuador’s former Vice President Jorge Glas from the Flagrancy Unit of the Public Prosecutor’s Office in Quito, Ecuador, April 6, 2024. /CFP

Military and police officers deploy a security operation during the exit of Ecuador’s former Vice President Jorge Glas from the Flagrancy Unit of the Public Prosecutor’s Office in Quito, Ecuador, April 6, 2024. /CFP

The rare incursion on diplomatic territory sparked an international outcry, and led Mexico to break ties with Ecuador, pulling its diplomats out of the country.

Mexico has filed a lawsuit against Ecuador at the International Court of Justice in The Hague, saying it wants the country suspended from the United Nations.

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador urged CELAC member states to support his country by co-signing its complaint at the UN court.

Ecuadorian President Daniel Noboa has defended the embassy raid as necessary to detain Glas because he posed a flight risk, saying he was willing to “resolve any difference” with Mexico, though an Ecuadorian court has since ruled the operation was “illegal and arbitrary.”

The Ecuadorian high court ruling said the arrest was illegal since security forces had no warrant to enter the embassy. But the court added Glas would remain in a high security prison in the port city of Guayaquil pending two other cases of corruption.

Glas, who served as vice president from 2013 to 2017, faces graft charges stemming from his time in office.

(With input from AFP)