Immigration officers at Guayaquil’s José Joaquín de Olmedo Airport refused to allow Lilian Tintori, wife of jailed Venezuelan protest leader Leopoldo López, to enter the country on Wednesday morning.
In its explanation of the denial, the government said that the tourist visa Tintori attempted to enter under is incompatible with engaging in political activities. “The tourist visa is intended for tourism, not for engaging in campaigns or social movements,” said Deputy Interior Minister Diego Fuentes at an afternoon press conference. “Mrs. Tintori admitted that she came to Ecuador for the purpose of political proselytizing.”
Prior to her trip, Tintori had announced that she was coming to Ecuador to campaign with government opposition candidate Guillermo Lasso, and Lasso and his wife were, in fact, at the airport to meet Tintori.
Lasso blasted the government for denying entry to Tintori. “This is more proof that we live under dictatorship and that it is time for a change,” said. “The government says it has open borders but it obviously only applies in selective cases.” He said that the order to deny Tintori entry came directly President Rafael Correa following a phone call from Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.
Lopez, is serving a 13-year sentence for leading protests against the Venezuelan government, some of which turned violent.
In his news conference, Fuentes said that the law on entry to Ecuador is clear. “The Law of Mobility states that foreigners entering the country must have a visa that corresponds to the purpose of the visit. In this case, Mrs Tintori is not coming to Ecuador to engage in tourist activities.” Fuentes added that Ecuador’s immigration rules are similar to those used in other countries.
The Law of Human Mobility states that “temporary foreign visitors cannot interfere in matters of the internal politics of Ecuador.”
Tintori, who was placed on an American Airlines flight back to Miami Wednesday afternoon, said she was not sure if she would apply for another visa and attempt to return.
“The voters of Ecuador have a choice to make,” she said before leaving Guayaquil. “I urge them to vote against the dictatorship of the current government. Please, don’t make the mistake we made in Venezuela.”