Ecuador Votes to Impeach Western-Backed President on Corruption Charges

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FILE – Ecuador’s President Guillermo Lasso attends his welcoming ceremony at the National Palace in Mexico City, Nov. 24, 2022. Lasso will use a referendum on Feb. 5, 2023 to measure support for his government on security issues.InternationalIndiaAfricaThe legislature’s attempt to remove the sitting president appears to have significantly more political support than a similar effort by the opposition last year.The National Assembly of Ecuador voted on Tuesday to advance impeachment proceedings against President Guillermo Lasso following accusations of corruption, in the latest setback for the beleaguered head of state.Of the 116 lawmakers who were present at the session, 88 voted in favor of the motion.

According to the bylaws of the opposition-controlled legislature, a new plenary session will be called next week. Exactly 92 votes are required to dismiss the head of state – a two-thirds majority of the assembly.

Lasso’s presidency began on a strong note but within a year of his inauguration, his popularity suffered a steep decline. Approval ratings which had approached 80% at the beginning of his tenure rapidly dwindled, and less than a year and a half later, Lasso’s support dwindled to below 30%.According to one survey published earlier this month, the Ecuadorian leader’s approval rating now stands at a meager 13.9%.Observers have identified a number of causes for Lasso’s hemorrhaging public support, with seemingly-constant corruption investigations and a major crime wave chief among them.Following huge clashes with indigenous demonstrators that took place throughout the country, the president narrowly survived a similar impeachment attempt last year. Opposition lawmakers ultimately ended up with just 80 votes for impeachment, a full 12 votes shy of the total needed to oust him.The current push to topple Lasso revolves around accusations of a network of corruption which allegedly spread across the president’s family tree. At the center of the scandal is the president’s brother-in-law, Danilo Carrera.

As Venezuelan media summarized, “the revelations implicate Carrera as the head of a network responsible for selling positions and contracts in public companies and indicate that he is very close to political operator Rubén Cherrez, who is himself linked to drug trafficking.”

Reports also indicate that “the Albanian mafia financed the campaign of candidate Lasso in 2021 with one and a half million dollars,” the publication explained.

Should Lasso’s downfall begin to seem imminent, it’s a development the United States government is likely to track closely.According to US media, “the center-right leader is one of the few friends Washington has in the region.” But the notoriously pro-establishment outlet acknowledged that “even that relationship may be fraying.”In 2021 US Secretary of State Antony Blinken lauded Lasso’s promise to “uphold democratic principles,” but more recently a number of legislators in US President Joe Biden’s own party have begun pushing back.AmericasEcuador President Mulls Dissolving Congress If Impeached18 April, 11:01 GMTOn April 12, five Democratic representatives sent a letter to Blinken urging him to “review our bilateral relations with [Ecuador’s] government while the Department of Justice concludes its investigations of President Lasso and Mr. Carrera’s apparent holdings in the US.”The letter cited “allegations of corruption at the highest levels of government,” an apparent “web of corruption that ties key associates of Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso to organized crime figures,” and evidence that both Carrera and “President Lasso himself have been using US jurisdictions to hide assets and avoid taxes.”

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