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Mexico's president says country will break diplomatic ties with Ecuador

Police break into the Mexican embassy in Quito, Ecuador, Friday, April 5, 2024.
David Bustillos
Police break into the Mexican embassy in Quito, Ecuador, Friday, April 5, 2024.

Updated April 6, 2024 at 2:23 AM ET

QUITO, Ecuador — Mexico is breaking off diplomatic ties with Ecuador after police broke into the Mexican embassy in Quito to arrest a former Ecuadorian vice president who has sought political asylum there after being indicted on corruption.

Mexico's President Andrés Manuel López Obrador made the announcement Friday evening after Ecuadorian police forced their way into the Mexican embassy to arrest Jorge Glas who has been residing there since December, as a diplomatic rift between the two countries deepened

Glas, arguably the most wanted man in the country, was convicted on bribery and corruption charges. Ecuadorian authorities are still investigating more allegations against him.

Police broke into the external doors of the Mexican diplomatic headquarters in the Ecuadorian capital and entered the main patio to get Glas.

"This is not possible, it cannot be, this is crazy," said Roberto Canseco, head of the Mexican consular section in the capital, Quito, told local press while standing outside the embassy. "I am very worried because they could kill him. There is no basis to do this, this is totally outside the norm."

Defending its decision, Ecuador's presidency said in a statement: "Ecuador is a sovereign nation and we are not going to allow any criminal to stay free."

López Obrador fired back calling Glas' detention an "authoritarian act" and "a flagrant violation of international law and the sovereignty of Mexico."

Alicia Bárcena, Mexico's secretary of foreign relations, posted on X, formerly Twitter, that a number of diplomats suffered injuries during the break-in, adding that it violated the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.

Bárcena said that Mexico would take the case to the International Court of Justice "to denounce Ecuador's responsibility for violations of international law." She also said Mexican diplomats were only waiting for the Ecuadorian government to offer the necessary guarantees for their return home.

Ecuador's foreign ministry and Ecuador's ministry of the interior did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Mexican embassy in Quito remained under heavy police guard late Friday.

A day earlier, tensions between the two countries escalated after Mexico's president made statements that Ecuador considered "very unfortunate" about the last elections in which the Ecuadorian president Daniel Noboa won.

In reaction, the Ecuadorian government declared the Mexican ambassador persona non grata.

Copyright 2024 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

The Associated Press
[Copyright 2024 NPR]