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Ecuador News

Legal action against Correa creates diplomatic rift with Bolivia and Venezuela

Ecuador is demanding an apology from Bolivia and Venezuela for comments made by Evo Morales and Nicolás Maduro. Both presidents criticized an Ecuadorian judge’s decision to issue an arrest warrant for former president Rafael Correa.

Bolivian President Evo Morales with Rafael Correa in 2015.

“We regret the remarks by these leaders and their attempt to discredit the institutions of Ecuador,” Foreign Minister José Valencia said on Wednesday. “This carelessness causes a diplomatic impasse with our sister countries.”

Valencia says he has summoned the ambassadors of Bolivia and Venezuela, Franklin Columba and Fabián Solano, to meetings to explain their presidents’ criticism of Ecuador’s legal system.

On Wednesday morning, Morales said that the arrest warrant issued for Correa represented a “return to the right-wing past” for Ecuador and said the country’s court system had been “hijacked” for the purpose of persecuting progressive government. Later in the day, Maduro echoed Morales’ comments, adding that the “oligarchy has taken control of Ecuador.”

On Wednesday afternoon, Ecuador President Lenin Moreno joined the discussion, Tweeting: “I have always been respectful of the institutions of the sister countries, especially Venezuela and Bolivia. I demand the same for Ecuador.” He added: “Unlike in recent years, today there is freedom, respect and autonomy for Ecuador’s justice system.”

Moreno’s presidential secretary, Juan Sebastián Roldán, issued a statement that Correa case was being handled by the legal system created by the former president. “These are the judges appointed during his administration, following the rules established then.”

Correa defied an order to appear in a Quito criminal court on Monday, showing up instead at an Ecuadorian consulate in Belgium, where he lives. The former president is wanted in connection with a 2012 kidnapping of a political critic. Following his failure to appear, the judge ordered him arrested and asked that an international warrant be issued.