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LibreOrganize 0.6.0 - Documentation

Ecuador raids Mexico's Embassy: A US Dilemma

Writer, playwright, and journalist Kurt Hackbarth is a naturalized Mexican citizen living in Oaxaca. His  political commentary is regularly featured in Sentido Común, Al Jazeera, and Jacobin. We exerpted the following piece from a recent article in Jacobin. It has been edited for brevity and clarity.

On April 5, Ecuadorian police stormed the Mexican embassy in Quito to arrest former vice president Jorge Glas. The unlawful act has put the White House in an awkward position.


Per Article 22 of the Vienna Convention of Diplomatic Relations, the premises of a diplomatic mission are inviolable. That is, unless youre Israel, which bombed the Iranian consulate in Damascus on April 1. And unless youre Ecuador, which invaded the Mexican embassy in Quito four days later.


Ecuadorian police, on the orders of President Daniel Noboa, forcibly entered the Mexican embassy, physically subdued chief of mission Roberto Canseco and captured Jorge Glas. Mexico had granted Glas political asylum that very day.


Glas, who served under the progressive president Rafael Correa, had been the target of a brutal campaign of lawfare by the current rightist government. The government tried, convicted, and sentenced him in a complex web of doctored evidence and dropped charges. In its communiqué announcing the granting of asylum to Glas, Mexico stated that their decision followed an exhaustive analysis of the information received.” They referred to Articles 4 and 9 of the Vienna Convention, which authorize the granting country the exclusive right to determine if a claim of political persecution is valid and require the host country to honor that decision. But Ecuador did not.


In the days following the embassy invasion, the international community responded countries around the world from both the political right and left condemned the action.


But after a full day of radio silence from the US State Department, spokesperson Matthew Miller issued a tepid statement that condemned any violation” of the Vienna Convention and paternalistically encouraged Mexico and Ecuador to resolve their differences, thus equating aggressor and victim.


There things might have remained, but for another interesting move on Mexicos part. At his press conference on April 9, AMLO screened the closed-circuit footage from the night of the embassy incursion, which laid bare the Ecuadorian polices assault in all of its brutality. In a none too subtle reference to the United States, the president added, No government does this unless it feels itself to be supported by other governments or powers.”


The same day, the White House came out with a stronger statement. We have reviewed the security camera footage from the Mexican embassy and believe these actions were wrong,” said National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan. The Ecuadorian government disregarded its obligations under international law as a host state to respect the inviolability of diplomatic missions and jeopardized the foundation of basic diplomatic norms and relationships.” AMLO had successfully forced the Biden administration’s hand.


US attempts to downplay the violation are understandable. If they condemned it unequivocally, that would have raised the obvious question of why condemn Ecuador and not Israel, which bombed the Damascus consulate, killing seven. In addition, the United States didn’t want to jeopardize military and economic relations with Ecuador or for the embassy invasion to promote a form of Latin American unity that it cannot control.


As for Mexico, it’s not just about condemning the invasion of its embassy but about defending a long and honorable history as a grantor of asylum. In a rules-based order” where the so-called rules routinely subvert international law, it is a tradition well worth defending.