As the effort to oust National Assembly President Guadalupe Llori continues to simmer, a new controversy has taken shape in the legislative halls. It follows the revelation last week that the Assembly’s Pachakutik leader Rafael Lucero met secretly in Mexico City earlier this month with former president Rafael Correa.
“This was an under-the-table meeting to get support for a truth commission to wash Correa of his crimes and bring him back to Ecuador,” says Pachakutik Assemblywoman Mireya Pazmiño. “It would have been kept secret except that Correa is so arrogant and stupid he wrote about it on Twitter.”
Correa was convicted in absentia in 2019 for bribery and extortion in connection with a political campaign collection scheme. He currently lives in Belgium, where he says he has been granted political asylum.
As a result of the disclosure, Pazmiño says that Lucero will be replaced as head of the Pachakutik delegation. “There is a great amount of anger about this deceit and we must restore integrity to the Pachakutik movement.”
Following Correa’s Tweet, Lucero claimed the meeting was “incidental” and that he was in Mexico City on other business when he received the invitation to meet with the former president. “It was a very short session, only 30 minutes,” Lucero said. “As part of my job, I meet with many people. I have met several times with President Lasso and no one complained.”
In his defense, Lucero admits that he and Correa discussed the new majority in the Assembly and Correa’s desire to set up a truth commission that could dismiss his conviction and those of members of his government and allow him to return to the country.
Members of the Correista Union of Hope (UNES) and the rightwing Christian Social Party (PSC) say the Mexico City meeting is a distraction to the effort to investigate Llori’s leadership and that of the Legislature Administrative Council. The Assembly reconvenes today and Llori’s opponents say establishment of the investigative committee will the top issue.
In a Monday radio interview, an unnamed advisor to a Pachakutik assemblyman said Lucero’s meeting with Correa focused on only one issue: setting up the truth commission. “He [Correa] cares about nothing else but being cleared of the crimes he and his associates committed,” the advisor said. “He doesn’t care about the other issues facing the county, only about his own personal interests. He is like a horny billy goat with one thing on his mind.”
Pazmiño said that Lucero’s meeting with Correa was “outrageous” on several levels. “The majority of Pachakutik does not want a truth commission. We understand that the country faces critical problems that must be addressed before the selfish interests of one politician.”