Ecuador expels Argentine ambassador after ex-minister flees

María de los Ángeles Duarte, sentenced to eight years in jail for corruption, fled to Caracas

The Ecuadorian government announced on Tuesday the expulsion of the Argentine ambassador in Quito, Gabriel Fuks, and recalled their ambassador in Buenos Aires, Xavier Monge, for consultations.

The move came after a former Ecuadorian minister convicted of corruption, who had been staying in the Argentine embassy, fled to the country’s embassy in Caracas.

Yesterday, Ecuador’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Juan Carlos Holguín, said in a press conference that Ecuador has ‘lost trust’ in Ambassador Fuks. 

Argentina’s Foreign Ministry expelled the Ecuadorian Ambassador in Buenos Aires in response.

María de los Ángeles Duarte was a minister during former president Rafael Correa’s government and was sentenced to eight years in prison for corruption in 2020. She had been living as a guest in the Argentine embassy since 2020 and was granted diplomatic asylum there in 2022, along with her son, whose father is Argentine. Ecuador considers her a fugitive.  

She has claimed that she is being politically persecuted and denies the charges against her. Correa, under whom she served as minister, was convicted of corruption in the same case as Duarte. He likewise claims the charges are politically motivated, and is living in political asylum in Belgium.

“I want to thank Argentina for sheltering me from the persecution by the governments of [president] Guillermo Lasso and [former president] Lenin Moreno,” she tweeted early on Tuesday morning. 

“I decided to leave the embassy because by denying me the safe conduct I was due as a political asylum seeker in line with the 1954 Caracas convention and preventing my safe exit (safe conduct), the Ecuadorian government turned me into its political hostage.”

The Argentine Foreign Ministry released a statement announcing that Duarte has been sheltered in the Argentine embassy in Caracas, Venezuela. 

Holguín, the Ecuadorian minister, said: “We are very sorry to have come to this point, but the inconsistencies of some information related to the situations of Mrs. María de los Ángeles Duarte have made us make this decision, at a time when we expected relations between states to be based on mutual trust, and above all, on respect for the good faith of the acts between both governments,” he said. 

“We feel that good faith has been violated.”

The Argentine Foreign Ministry issued a statement that said that they found Ecuador’s decision “sad and surprising”, and that they had decided to take the same measure regarding the Ecuatorian Ambassador in Argentina, Xavier Alfonso Monge Yoder.

-with information from Reuters


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