Jorge Glas had felt safe. The former Ecuadorian vice president fled to the Mexican embassy in Ecuador's capital Quito in December. He did this to avoid prison after being convicted of corruption.

And now, five months later, he should even be allowed to leave the country. But hours after Mexico offered Glas asylum, Ecuadorian security forces stormed the embassy and arrested the convicted politician. An unusual process, as the diplomatic representation of another state is actually considered a protected space.

Mexico promptly severed diplomatic relations with Ecuador. This is also rare in Latin America. The storming of the embassy was a “blatant violation of international law and Mexico’s sovereignty,” wrote Mexico’s left-wing populist President Andrés Manuel López Obrador on social media. Glas is a refugee due to “persecution and harassment,” which is why they wanted to grant him asylum. Mexico now wants to appeal to the International Court of Justice over the embassy incident.

Part two of the argument

Tensions between the two countries had escalated this week. Just on Thursday, Ecuador declared the Mexican ambassador “persona non grata”, i.e. person undesirable. This was preceded by a remark by the Mexican president, who suggested in a statement that Ecuador's President Daniel Noboa only won the election in October because the candidate Fernando Villavicencio had previously been murdered. Villavicencio was shot eleven days before the first round of voting. Ecuador has been fighting for months against drug gangs that are spreading fear and terror in the country.

Now part two followed in the dispute between the presidents of Ecuador and Mexico. Noboa ordered Glas arrested. “No criminal should be considered politically persecuted,” he said. The politician Glas was, among other things, vice president under the left-wing populist Rafael Correa. The former Ecuadorian president is avoiding prison in Belgium and is ideologically close to Mexican President López Obrador.

Mexico's president had already triggered tensions with a South American country in 2022. At the time, he offered asylum to deposed Peruvian President Pedro Castillo after the socialist was removed from office following an attempted coup. At that time, Peru reacted just as angrily as Ecuador does now.