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The relationship between Argentina and Ecuador suddenly became tense after a leak and the mystery behind it. Although it may seem like the plot of a detective fiction novel, the episode raised the diplomatic temperature between the two countries.
The episode in question took place last weekend, March 11 and 12, and involves the former official of Rafael Correa’s government, María de los Ángeles Duarte, who served as Minister of Transportation and Public Works between 2010 and 2014, was convicted in three instances and under two different governments. The reason? Corruption. She was found guilty of distributing some 14 million dollars during two electoral campaigns, coming from public works companies, including Odebrecht.
Duarte had been a guest at the Argentine Embassy in Quito since 2022, but then she received asylum thanks to the great relationship between Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, also convicted for corruption and current vice president of Argentina, and Correa. The crisis was unleashed when the former minister appeared last Monday at the Argentine Embassy in Caracas, Venezuela.
This escape led to the expulsion from Ecuador of the Argentine ambassador, Gabriel Fuks, who refused to hand over the security camera videos, the entry books, and any documentation that could help in the investigation that is trying to find out how Duarte ended up in Venezuela.
From Ecuador, they cannot explain how the official was able to evade the security forces, their intelligence services, their immigration authorities, and all the air controls of their country. If Duarte set foot outside the Argentine Embassy, she could have been arrested quietly, but now she is tucked under the wings of Nicolás Maduro.
Juan Carlos Holguín, Ecuador’s Foreign Minister, appeared before the local National Assembly (Congress) and had very critical words towards the Argentine Government, today headed by Alberto Fernández. “In the best of cases, there was negligence. And in the worst case, there was complicity in his escape”, he said.
In addition, he accused Fuks of having given different versions of what happened. “First he said it was on Friday and then on Saturday. Then he told me that he was not the jailer of anyone”, added the Chancellor, who also revealed that there was a “request from the (Argentine) Embassy staff to withdraw a police car” that was carrying out surveillance and custody tasks.
In response, the Argentine Foreign Ministry took the decision to expel the Ecuadorian ambassador, Xavier Alfonso Monge Yoder. “Regretting therefore the incomprehensible decision of the Ecuadorian Government to request the withdrawal from Ecuador of Ambassador Gabriel Fuks, it has been decided to adopt on our part the same decision with respect to the Ecuadorian Ambassador to Argentina,” reads the statement.
Behind closed doors in Argentina, opposition congressmen asked Foreign Minister Santiago Cafiero for explanations. “The former minister was investigated, tried and sentenced by the highest courts of the country. We are facing a very serious situation and the Argentine Foreign Minister must give explanations”, said Argentine Congressman Ricardo Buryaile (UCR Formosa).
His request was accompanied by other deputies of Juntos por el Cambio (the opposition coalition), such as Karina Banfi, Pedro Galimberti, Roberto Sánchez, Gabriela Lena, Soledad Carrizo, Gerardo Cipolini, Carlos Zapata, Marcela Coli, Juan Martín, Lidia Ascárate and Pablo Torello.
Joaquín Núñez es licenciado en comunicación periodística por la Universidad Católica Argentina. Se especializa en el escenario internacional y en la política nacional norteamericana. Confeso hincha de Racing Club de Avellaneda. Contacto: [email protected] // Joaquín Núñez has a degree in journalistic communication from the Universidad Católica Argentina. He specializes in the international scene and national American politics. Confessed fan of Racing Club of Avellaneda. Contact: [email protected]