From Nasty Insults to an Embassy Raid: Latin American Relations Get Personal

Ecuador was once famous for sheltering a man on the lam: For seven years it allowed WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to hole up in its embassy in London, invoking an international treaty that makes diplomatic premises places of refuge.

Then, last week, the South American nation appeared to tear that treaty to shreds, sending the police into the Mexican Embassy in Quito — over Mexico’s protests — where they arrested a former vice president accused of corruption.

President Daniel Noboa of Ecuador defended the decision to detain the former vice president, Jorge Glas, calling him a criminal and citing the country’s growing security crisis to justify the move.

But his critics said it one of the most egregious violations of the treaty since its creation in 1961. They saw a more personal motive: Mr. Noboa’s political agenda.

Ecuador has been engulfed in record levels of violence, and Mr. Noboa, a young center-right leader, is eager to look tough on crime. He is just days away from a national referendum that, if approved, would give him sweeping new powers to tackle insecurity — and potentially help him get re-elected next year.

Mr. Noboa characterized the embassy raid and arrest of Mr. Glas as a way to show Ecuador that he is working hard to go after accused criminals.

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