Guillermo Lasso’s government has submitted a “strong allegation” to Argentine authorities about the defection of former Ecuadorian minister María de los Angeles Duarte, accused of corruption and absconding from Ecuador’s justice system.
Last Monday, it was reported that former Ecuadorian Minister María de los Angeles Duarte had fled the Argentine embassy in Quito.
Duarte spent more than two and a half years living as a refugee to avoid going to prison following a corruption conviction. In addition, the activation of police activities to try to catch her was announced.
A statement by the Ecuadorian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Duarte’s defection, a cabinet minister in the government of former leftist President Rafael Correa, was alerted to the Ecuadorian executive branch by Argentine Foreign Minister Santiago Cafiero.
“Cafiero contacted the (Ecuadorian) Minister of Foreign Affairs Juan Carlos Holguín to inform him that Mrs. María Duarte had fled from the Argentine Embassy in Quito. ‘ said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
#release | | IMPORTANT NOTICE ABOUT MARIA DE LOS ANGELES DUARTE: pic.twitter.com/Ili2cec0xI
— Ecuadorian Ministry of Foreign Affairs 🇪🇨 (@CancilleriaEc) March 14, 2023
Furthermore, he noted that Deputy Prime Minister Luis Vayas “immediately spoke with Gabriel Fuks, the Argentine ambassador to Ecuador, to learn more about this situation.”
“As soon as the facts became clear, the National Police launched protocols to search and capture Mrs. Duarte, who was convicted of corruption,” he added.
They demand information from Argentina about leaks
Ecuador “presented an emphatic claim to Argentina and requested information,” the Ecuadorian foreign ministry said.
After this, it was assured that “the most appropriate action would be taken in the face of this incident.”
Argentina’s President Alberto Fernandez’s government notified the Ecuadorian Ministry of Foreign Affairs of its decision to grant Duarte asylum on December 1.
The former Ecuadorian minister has been staying as a refugee with his minor son in the Argentine embassy in Quito since August 12, 2020.
However, the conservative Guillermo Lasso government opposed giving Duarte safe passage that would allow him to leave Ecuador and go to Belgium without being arrested.
The law firm representing former President Correa, who was also convicted of corruption, argued that the Lasso government violated international law by denying Duarte safe passage to go to Argentina.
Ecuador: A former minister convicted of corruption flees the Argentine embassy in Quito where he has taken refuge. The Ecuadorian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has reported the escape of Maria de los Angeles Duarte. She obtained a warrant for her arrest after being sentenced to eight years in prison in 2020.https://t.co/bHtkY68mX7
– AP News (@AP_Noticias) March 14, 2023
Lawsuit Against Former Ecuadorian Minister
The Belgian company Ius Cogens assured that “Argentina has the right and obligation to grant asylum to María de los Angeles Duarte.”
In 2020, she was sentenced to eight years in prison for a bribery charge known as “bribery,” and Correa and his other former collaborators were also found guilty.
The defendants have denied the charges, but the foreign ministry has assured that the trial against Duarte was closed before the current government took power in May 2021.
Duarte, who held a public works portfolio from February 19, 2015 to January 6, 2017, considers himself politically persecuted.
He also denies the charges against him, like former President Correa, who has refugee status in Belgium.
Correa, who has lived in Belgium since 2017, maintains close ties with the current President of Argentina and Vice President Cristina Fernandez.