Ecuador Expels Argentine Ambassador for Helping Corrupt Ex-Minister Escape

Опубликовано: 17 Март 2023

Maria de los angeles duarteMaria de los Angeles Duarte (Photo: Vinicio fiallos6287, Wikimedia, License)

Ecuador has declared the Argentinian ambassador to the country persona non grata for allowing a former Ecuadorian minister who found refuge at his Residence in Quito after a court sentenced her for corruption to leave the country, the Ecuadorian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Tuesday.

Shortly after an Ecuadorian court upheld her sentence of eight years in prison, María de los Ángeles Duarte was allowed to enter the Embassy of Argentina as a “guest for humanitarian reasons.” She has lived at the Residence with her minor son since August 2020. Argentina granted her later diplomatic asylum.

But on Monday Argentina informed Ecuadorian authorities that Duarte had disappeared from the Ambassador’s Residence on Saturday. She appeared at the Argentinian Embassy in Venezuela on Tuesday and provided no details on how she made it to Caracas.

Ambassador to Ecuador Gabriel Fuks said he had no contact with Duarte after her escape from his Residence and stated that he did not know where she was. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Argentina confirmed in a news release that Duarte had left the Residence in Quito without notifying Argentinian officials in the country.

The day after her escape, Duarte thanked Argentina on Twitter for having protected her from what she described as a “persecution of the governments of Lenin Moreno and Guilherme Lasso.”

María de los Ángeles Duarte was the Minister of Transportation and Public Works in Ecuador from 2012 to 2016. During her time in office, Duarte misused her power by asking for money from legal entities, including the Brazilian company Odebrecht, through a former advisor to then President Rafael Correa.

According to Ecuadorian prosecutors, the money was demanded in exchange for future contracts with the Ecuadorian government.