Venezuelans left outside consulate in Ecuador after Maduro announced closure

(16 Apr 2024)

Quito, Ecuador – 16 April 2024
1. Exterior of the Venezuelan consulate in Ecuador
2. Venezuelan flag
3. Emblem of the Venezuelan government
4. Various people waiting outside a closed consulate
4. SOUNDBITE (Spanish) Juan Aroche, Venezuelan Citizen Resident in Ecuador:
"And I consider that the problems between two countries should be kept between two countries if it is between Mexico and Ecuador they should be solved between those countries, it is fine for you to cast an opinion vote but leaving Venezuelans unassisted by removing the embassy and consulate seems to me something that makes no sense."
5. Juan Aroche outside the consulate
6. Various of Venezuelans waiting
Dozens of Venezuelan nationals on Tuesday awaited outside their consulate in Quito, which remained shut after President Nicolás Maduro ordered its closure along with its embassy and the removal of all staff.

Maduro’s decision follows protests over a raid by Ecuadorian authorities on the Mexican embassy in Quito on April 5.

Maduro and other presidents participating in a virtual meeting of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States expressed their support for Mexico’s request to have the United Nations suspend Ecuador from the world body.

He was the only one to announce the recall of a diplomatic mission.

Juan Aroche, a Venezuelan residing in Ecuador, said he considers the closure senseless, saying the diplomatic spat should be resolved between the countries involved.

"It is fine for you to cast an opinion vote but leaving Venezuelans unassisted by removing the embassy and consulate seems to me something that makes no sense," he said.

Ecuadorian President Daniel Noboa had ordered authorities to raid the Mexican diplomatic outpost to arrest the country’s former Vice President Jorge Glas, convicted on two separate bribery and corruption cases.

Glas was holed up at the embassy since December but Mexico only granted him asylum hours before the raid.

The extraordinarily unusual use of force drew immediate condemnation from governments around the world, because diplomatic premises are considered foreign soil and “inviolable” under the Vienna treaties.

Mexico severed diplomatic relations with Ecuador immediately after the raid and recalled its diplomatic mission.

It hoped to use the CELAC meeting to rally a unified front for its case both at the U.N. and before the International Court of Justice.

Noboa, who did not participate in Tuesday’s meeting, said last week that he authorized the raid “to protect national security."

His government has argued that Glas was wanted for his criminal convictions for corruption and not political reasons and has accused Mexico of violating the Vienna treaties by granting him asylum.

While CELAC leaders questioned his decision, he posted an Instagram video promoting improvements to law enforcement infrastructure and another one announcing an emergency declaration covering the country’s electricity sector amid hours-long power outages in Quito.

Under Maduro’s 11-year presidency, more than 7.7 million Venezuelans have left their home country, and most have settled elsewhere in Latin America and in the Caribbean. Ecuador has the sixth largest concentration of Venezuelan migrants.

Ecuadorian officials and nongovernmental organizations that assist migrants estimate that 475,000 Venezuelans live in Ecuador. Of those more than 231,000 live permanently and legally there, according to Ecuador’s 2023 census.

AP Video by Cesar Olmos

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