Gustavo Quito, attorney for members of the financial cooperative Coopera, was arrested Thursday in Cuenca at the parents’ home of Alianza País executive secretary Doris Soliz.
Quito says he and Coopera members wanted to talk to Soliz about the losses suffered when the cooperative failed two years ago. Police said that Quito’s group became aggressive during a protest at the house on Calle Benigno Malo.
Quito said the protest was peaceful. “We only wanted to talk to the secretary about recovering money lost by our members,” he said. “We are not criminals.”
Quito was released on Friday and was taken to a local hospital for treatment of diabetes complications resulting from his detention.
Although more than 99% of Coopera members have recovered some or all of the money lost when a money laundering and embezzlement scandal closed the cooperative in June 2013, at least two dozen of the largest investors, including several expats, have received no repayment. Their investments ranged from $150,000 to over $1 million.
In the past, Quito has blamed President Rafael Correa for protecting the former Coopera general manager Rodrigo Aucay, who ran for the National Assembly in 2012 as a member of Alianza País. Aucay, who lost the election, is currently serving a prison term. Coopera protestors have frequently displayed banners showing Correa with Aucay during a campaign event.
The Coopera closure was the largest failure of a financial institution in Ecuador since the 1999 – 2000 economic crisis. It affected more than 100,000 investors, including about 300 North American expats. For more about the Coopera story, click here (part I), and here (part II).