National Assembly votes overwhelmingly to accept Lasso impeachment report; Moreno must report to court; Oil flows again following pipeline repairs

Mar 6, 2023 | 2 comments

The National Assembly voted 104 to 18 Saturday to approve the report by the special commission investigating government corruption in the so-called “Gran Padrino” case. In the report, the commission recommends the impeachment of President Guillermo Lasso.

According to the Assembly Parliamentarian, several steps are required for an impeachment trial to begin. First, 46 Assembly members must sign a document recommending that a trial be installed after which the Legislative Administration Council will request a ruling from the Constitutional Court regarding the legal admissibility of the charges. If the court ruling is favorable, an impeachment trial can begin.

According to several Assembly members who voted to approve the report, their support does not necessarily mean they will favor the impeachment and dismissal of Lasso in a final vote. Following the approval vote, Assemblywoman Wilma Andrade of the Democratic Left said she believes there is enough evidence against Lasso to proceed to trial but says the final outcome is far from certain.

National Assembly members celebrate the approval of a report recommending the impeachment of President Guillermo Lasso.

“I believe the process should go forward based on the information the commission has produced but we have weeks and months to go before all the information, including the president’s defense, is presented,” Andrade said. “It would be a mistake to assume that there are 104 votes to dismiss the president.”

The commission’s final report was changed hours before it was submitted to the Assembly, removing the charge of treason against Lasso. A commission attorney recommended the change, advising that the charges do not rise to a “treasonous level.”

Moreno must report to court in Sinohydro case
Former President Lenín Moreno and his wife Rocío González must report every 15 days to the Criminal Division of the National Court of Justice in Quito. Judge Luis Adrián Rojas ordered the appearances as part of the investigation into the Coca-Codo Sinclair hydroelectric project corruption case in which a estimated $76 million in bribes were paid by Sinohydro, the Chinese contractor.

Moreno and González must travel from their current home in Paraguay every two weeks to satisfy the order. The judge decided against committing Moreno to house arrest based on his age. The ex-president is 69 years old.

In total, there are 37 defendants in the case whose identities were revealed in the so-called INA Papers, named for an off-shore company allegedly created by Moreno and his family. In addition to Moreno and his wife, his daughter, two brothers and two sisters-in-law have been charged in the case.

According to the Attorney General, Moreno and his wife received a total of $220,000 from Sinohydro.

Oil pipeline is repaired and production resumes
Ecuador has resumed pumping crude oil, the country’s main export, through a major pipeline after completing reinforcements following a bridge collapse in the Amazon, state company Petroecuador. It said the Trans-Ecuadoran Pipeline System (SOTE) was transporting 13,750 barrels per hour.

Two weeks ago, Petroecuador suspended crude oil exports while carrying out safety checks and improvements on the SOTE and another pipeline after a bridge collapsed near them in Napo province, even though the lines were not directly affected.

The government declared a “force majeure,” meaning the company will not face penalties for failing to meet client orders.

Petroecuador’s statement on Wednesday made no mention of losses incurred and did not specify when exports would resume. Petroecuador was responsible for 78 percent of the country’s total crude extraction of some 481,000 barrels per day in 2022.

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