Lawfare in Ecuador: Interpol rejects the detention of Correa, the persecution continues

The political persecution of Correa is aimed at detracting from public debate on the new law that condones fines and interest owed to the Treasury by the most powerful economic groups.

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The Interpol (international police) rejected the request for a Red Notice for the capture of ex-president of Ecuador Rafael Correa for his supposed link to the kidnapping of an opposition figure in 2012, arguing that the measure is not compatible with respect for human rights.


What is happening in Ecuador is a judicial war with multiple objectives: to discredit the governmental administration of the ex-president, prevent his return to politics, destroy his public image and postpone – or try to prevent - a foreseeable crisis of governability.


Following the acceptance of the resignation of the vice president María Alejandra Vicuña, the National Assembly is to elect her replacement. President Lenin Moreno presented a triad: Otto Sonnenholzner is an economist and radio commentator; Nancy Vasco comes from the social sector; and Agustín Albán, resident in Mexico, is Rector of the Private University Univer Milenium, with ample experience in fusions and acquisitions, corporative financing and private capital[1].


Analysts coincide that a judicial process has been built against Correa upon the same crude bases of suspicions, false witnesses and lack of proofs, that in Brazil have imprisoned ex-president Lula – for the supposed possession of a dwelling that was never registered in his name nor that of his family members –, and that in Argentina sustain the cause for “treason” against ex-president Cristina Fernández.


Correa, who is living in Belgium, celebrated the decision disclosed by the Ecuadorian justice system: “we thank the decision of Interpol, but this was no surprise. We expected this decision”, after denouncing once again that this is a case of political persecution. “The Ecuadorian authorities insist on persecuting me”.


“Having seriously examined all the elements concerning the judicial situation of the Petitioner – Rafael Correa – the information available to the Commission revealed that the retention of the data in the System of Information of Interpol was not compatible with the obligation of Interpol to ensure the effective cooperation between police authorities within the framework of respect for the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Art. 2 of the Statutes of Interpol)”, affirms the communiqué.


Immediately, the Ecuadorian National Court of Justice responded that the resolution of Interpol is subject to revision and that the red notification and extradition are independent procedures.


At the end of his government, Correa moved to Belgium where he received the legal notification that associated him with the kidnapping of opposition figure Fernando Balda, that took place in Colombia. The case, initiated by the Colombian intelligence services as was denounced at the time, took a further step when Ecuadorian justice requested the arrest of Correa by Interpol.


Balda accuses the former head of state of ordering his kidnapping in Bogota, where five persons employed force to put him in a car that was later intercepted by local police allowing for the liberation of Balda.


Correa, president from 2007 to 2017, was called to trial on November 7, together with two ex agents who are detained and an ex Chief of the Secretariat of Intelligence who now lives in Spain, but who did not attend. The ex-president will only face judgment if he is brought before a tribunal, because the law prohibits a trial in absence. “It is clear that these cardboard trials taking place in Ecuador, that would not be possible in a State of Law, will not even reach the first level”, Correa pointed out.


“It is clear that the ‘Balda case’ is a farce and that its decisions are illegitimate and illegal”, tweeted the ex foreign minister Ricardo Platino. “Instead of asking for the resignation of corrupt judges, the National Court seeks to defend the indefensible, torturing the statute of Interpol. Honest judges, react! Enough of farces! Enough of political persecution”, he declared.


While the criminal process in course against the now imprisoned ex-vice president, Jorge Glas, served as a smoke screen for the takeover of the Council of Citizen Participation and Social Control (CPCCS) and of all the authorities of control, the political persecution of Correa is aimed at detracting from public debate on the new “Organic Law of Productive Development, Attraction of Investments, Generation of Employment and Stability and Fiscal Equilibrium” that condones fines and interest owed to the Treasury (amounting to around 4,379 million dollars at present) by the most powerful economic groups.


Alberto Verdugo points out that one of the key pieces in the implementation of Lawfare strategy in Ecuador is Pablo Celi, who has taken on the role of Acting Comptroller of the State, after literally tearing up the document in which he was notified that he had been dismissed. A few months ago, in a manifest arrogation of functions, Celi emitted a review with indications of criminal responsibility against ex-president Correa for supposed “over-indebtedness” under his government.


The news obviously caused an immediate flurry in the headlines of the mainstream press, but given the lack of proof of economic damage to the State, the denouncement was archived. In Celi’s review, the procedure for contracting debt of the previous government was not questioned, but rather its having created “permissive legislation” that, going beyond what is established in the manual of the International Monetary Fund, approved this widely broadcast “over-indebtedness”.


The presumed act of embezzlement had no legal standing, since there was no deviation of State funds (to use them for a purpose distinct from that which responds to law). But the denunciation (false news style) served to feed the collective imaginary and enabled the de facto power to test the strategy of lawfare, by involving Correa in a hypothetical crime of kidnapping an ex National Assembly member who was in Colombia as a fugitive from justice, dedicated, apparently, to the illicit commercialization of espionage equipment.


With the judicial coup that aims to incarcerate the ex-president, the Ecuadorean Government demonstrates its urgency to prevent the ex-head of State from returning to present himself as a candidate in the municipal elections of 2019, and also to avoid his continuation at the head of the reorganization of the citizens’ anti-neoliberal movement, that is brewing following the vertiginous and, for many, surprising swing to the right of Lenin Moreno.


The court filings through which Rafael Correa is accused are truly Kafkian, where the government had to twist the existing legal institutions (some consider in an illegal manner). The capture of the CPCCS designated by Moreno – following the referendum – was an essential step for the change in the legal institutional structure and the development of the judicial persecution of Correa, as Rafael Calderón points out.


The CPCCS, in three months, has removed the attorney general and the president of the Council of the Judiciary, opening the way for the Government, supported by the rightwing benches, to remove Correa’s presidential immunity, in a doubtful act of the National Assembly. The story will continue.

10 December 2018


(Translated for ALAI by Jordan Bishop)


- Eloy Osvaldo Proaño, Analyst and Ecuadorian Investigator, associated with the Centro Latinoamericano de Análysis Estratégico (CLAE,




[1] Editor’s note: Otto Sonnenholzner was subsequently elected.
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