The fugitive communication secretary to former president Rafael Correa resurfaced on Tuesday in a Youtube video. Fernando Alvarado, under indictment for misuse of federal funds, removed a court-ordered electronic ankle monitor Friday and left the country.
In another Tuesday development, justice minister Paúl Granda offered his resignation to President Lenin Moreno, saying he took full responsibility for Alvarado’s escape.
Current communication secretary Andrés Michelena says Alvarado’s Youtube broadcast appears to have been made in Venezuela.
In the video, Alvarado says he has been granted political asylum in a country safe from Ecuadorian law enforcement. “I am in a place that understands that there is political persecution in Ecuador and that there is no decent administration of justice there,” he said, adding that he doesn’t want to suffer the same fate as former vice president Jorge Glas, who is serving a six-year prison term for corruption. Alvarado called Glas a “true warrior” in the fight against persecution.
In comments after the release of the video, Michelena warned that if it is true that Alavardo has been granted asylum in Venezuela, it would be “catastrophic” for relations between Ecuador and Venezuela. “We already have a strained relationship and if they have decided to harbor fugitives from justice this can only make matters worse.” Ecuador expelled the Venezuelan ambassador last week following public criticism of Moreno.
Granda’s offer to resign has not been accepted by Moreno. “I take absolute and complete responsibility for the escape of Fernando Alvarado,” he said. “I let down the president.”
In a press conference, Granda said there are “serious security breaches” in Ecuador’s justice and law enforcement system. “There were flaws in the monitoring of the ankle bracelet that allowed the escape. On further review, we have found many other instances of lax monitoring of those accused of crimes.” He said an investigation found hundreds of cases where suspects’ monitors were either removed or tuned off without notification being sent to law enforcement.
“What we discovered suggests that a mafia may be operating within the system,” Granda said. “I am suggesting that the president order a full investigation.”