By Carlos Camacho
CARACAS -- Ecuador said Thursday it was expelling Venezuela Ambassador Carol Delgado one day after Maduro’s propaganda minister, Jorge Rodriguez, called Ecuador President Lenin Moreno a “liar”.
The impasse comes only 24 hours after Costa Rica said it was joining six other countries (Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Paraguay, Peru and Canada) in asking the International Penal Court to investigate Maduro for human rights abuses. This is the first time since the International Criminal Court (ICC) was created in which a group of sovereign countries asks the ICC to investigate another nation.
“The Ministry of Foreign Relations and Human Mobility informs that, in the face of the offensive remarks made yesterday by the Minister of Communication and Information of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Jorge Rodriguez, against Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno Garces, the National Government has resolved to expel from our country the Ambassador from Venezuela in Ecuador”, Quito’s foreign office stated in a communique posted to social media Thursday morning.
Ecuador pledged to continue aiding hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans who have arrived seeking refuge, some of them on foot, over the last few months, as the economic crisis in their home country has mutated into an open humanitarian crisis. Quito said also on Thursday that there were at least 300,000 Venezuelan new arrivals in Ecuador (a good chunk of migrants keep going towards Chile and Peru), although the United Nations has said the figure could be higher.
Venezuela and Ecuador were allies for a long time, when Chavez was in Miraflores and Rafael Correa his ideological kin in Quito. Chavez advised the younger Correa about setting up a national oil company and an oil ministry, but while Ecuador’s fortunes improved subsequently, Venezuela is now mired in hyperinflation. Relationships between the two oil-rich countries took a turn for the worse when Moreno (who was expected to continue the friendly line towards Venezueal) replaced Ortega, now a wanted man and himself a refugee in Belgium, as Quito is pushing corruption charges against him. Moreno has also denounced Maduro as authoritarian and lamented the refugee crisis that has arrived at his doorstep.
And, Thursday, things took decidedly a turn for the worse, with Quito saying that “the Republic of Ecuador will not tolerate any show of disrespect to its authorities”, but promising to keep on aiding Venezuelan refugees and keeping bilateral relations with Caracas at Charge D’ Affaires-level.
Rodriguez said Moreno was inflating the figure for Venezuelans seeking refuge in Ecuador, triggering the previously unthinkable in Chavez and Correa’s days: Ambassadors expelled between Caracas and Quito.
The Maduro regime is bent on denying an exodus that has been called the largest refugee crisis in the Western Hemisphere and during which some 2,6 million Venezuelans have fled the roil rich nation only since 2015.Venezuela Claims Ecuador Lied about Scale of Migration