In South America, the raid on Mexico’s embassy by Ecuador was shocking. Here’s why Daniel Noboa might still benefit from it.

In recent weeks, there has been a lot of diplomatic back-and-forth in Latin America, with the president of Argentina labeling the president of Colombia “a terrorist murderer” and Venezuela making yet another attempt to retake land that is administered by neighboring Guyana. However, none of it has been as direct as Ecuador’s highly contentious choice to raid Mexico’s embassy, a grave transgression of diplomatic protocol that is still having an impact on the entire area.

Jorge Glas, the former vice president of Ecuador, was being held by Ecuadorian police for seeking refuge from Mexico when the raid occurred. The incident occurred in Quito last week, and surveillance footage from the event showed Ecuadorian police fighting with the top diplomat of the Mexican mission.The dramatic incidents also suggest a new strategy for combating crime in the area and highlight how Daniel Noboa, the youngest president in Latin America, may be challenging traditional knowledge, much to the dismay of his septuagenarian counterpart Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador in Mexico.The 36-year-old Noboa became president of Ecuador with the snap of his fingers. Amidst a constitutional crisis in May of last year, his predecessor, Guillermo Lasso, announced his resignation and called for early elections. The nation’s growing crime epidemic dominated the subsequent contest, as was made painfully clear by the August 9 assassination of Fernando Villavicencio, a candidate against corruption.

Having little prior political experience, Noboa, the son of a banana tycoon, took advantage of the support for a tough-on-crime stance. The world was made aware of Ecuador’s security issue less than two months after the country’s most notorious criminal, Alfredo “Fito” Macias, broke out of prison when gunmen invaded a television studio live on air.

Although “Fito” is still at large, Noboa has maintained a state of emergency throughout the country ever since. In addition to sending the military into the streets and calling for an April 21 vote to put emergency security measures into the Constitution, he has proclaimed an internal armed battle against the drug cartels.

Additionally, he pledged to usher in a new age for Ecuador, a clean break from his predecessors who allowed crime to run the street.

That could be one of the main reasons Noboa has been pressing for Glas’s arrest. The former vice president said that the accusations against him were politically motivated and had applied for refuge in Mexico in order to avoid being charged with embezzlement. However, Glas—who has previously served two convictions for corruption and was close to his former employer, Rafael Correa—became a symbol of the past that Noboa rejects and a test of his resolve to clear the house.

Glas seemed to have found solace for a little while. Prior to extending asylum to the family of Pedro Castillo of Peru in 2022, Lopez Obrador welcomed Bolivia’s Evo Morales in 2019 and used Mexico’s diplomatic channels to support political allies.

Since December, Correa’s close ideological friend Lopez Obrador had permitted Glas to remain in the country.

However, he seemed to exacerbate already existing annoyance. Last week, Lopez Obrador appeared to be criticizing the election that resulted in Noboa’s victory, implying that Noboa had benefited from the atmosphere of dread generated by Villavicencio’s murder.

The leader of Ecuador defied diplomatic conventions on April 5 and ordered an extraordinary operation to take Glas by force, severely damaging Ecuador’s ties with Mexico.Analysts think that in order to understand the current diplomatic crisis, Ecuador’s vote on April 21 is essential. Noboa justified his breach of the Vienna Convention by raiding a foreign embassy, claiming that the security situation in Ecuador necessitated “exceptional decisions” and that he could not permit a criminal with a criminal record to go free.

He linked his conduct to the impending referendum in an open letter that was published on Monday, asserting that “a vast majority of Ecuadoreans” will support his choice by casting their ballots.It’s possible that the raid gives him a surge in popularity, according to foreign expert Santiago Orbe of Ecuador.

Fito’s escape and the government’s subsequent attempt and failure to transfer antiquated weaponry to Ukraine have put pressure on the administration. Orbe told CNN that this behavior “shows that they do not lack courage when making decisions, despite the fact that it is impulsive and quite disproportionate.”

Lopez Obrador is nearing the end of his political career, but Noboa is just getting started and wants to build a solid foundation for his reelection bid the following year.

Noboa is among the new breed of nimble politicians that prioritize taking action above listening. Although Ecuador’s foreign policy would undoubtedly suffer as a result of this blatant conduct, Orbe stated that Noboa—whose platform revolves around security and the rule of law—will benefit in the short run from it.

Some, such as Mexican blogger Emilio Lezama, have drawn comparisons between Noboa’s actions and those of Nayib Bukele, a young politician from El Salvador who has gained widespread popularity in the area for his tough-on-crime stance even at the expense of occasionally breaching the law.

El Salvador’s president, who has been in emergency rule for more than two years, is one of the few foreign presidents who has personified a security crackdown.

Even though El Salvador imprisoned almost 2% of its adult population throughout his time due to suspected violations of human rights, it’s safe to conclude that Bukele’s policies are quite well-liked by his fellow citizens.

Since the year 2000, there has been a marked surge in support for authoritarian policies in Latin America aimed at addressing the persistent problems of crime and economic growth.

When Lopez Obrador launched his first presidential campaign in 2006, 60% of respondents said they thought democracy was the best type of administration for their nation under all circumstances, according to Latinobarometro, a regional pollster that analyzes sentiments across 17 different Latin American countries.

It was 48% in 2023, the year Noboa was elected.

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