In Ecuador, the opposition in the National Assembly approved a motion to impeach President Guillermo Lasso. A proposal that still needs to go through the approval of the Constitutional Court. Lasso faces corruption charges for allegedly favoring third parties and embezzling state funds.
Part of the Ecuadorian opposition in the National Assembly formally requested this Thursday, March 16, that a political trial be carried out against President Guillermo Lasso for a corruption case for which he is being investigated, charges that he denies.
Earlier this month, lawmakers endorsed a report accusing Lasso of having alleged connections in crimes against state security and public administration. The Prosecutor’s Office is investigating him for alleged illegal operations in state companies.
The legislature also voted in favor of declassifying some existing files where corruption investigations are found to find evidence that will help Lasso’s dismissal, but neither the name of the president nor that of any of his family appears in these files.
The formal request was presented by lawmaker Viviana Veloz from former President Rafael Correa’s party. This was approved with 59 signatures from legislators related to Correísmo, the right-wing Social Christian Party (PSC), some parliamentarians from the Pachakutik indigenous movement and the Democratic Left party.
Veloz said that “the president is politically responsible for the crimes of extortion and embezzlement.” And he added: “This Assembly will establish political responsibility and justice must establish criminal responsibility.”
He also affirmed that there is “abundant” evidence for the impeachment request, adding that the facts point to the embezzlement of funds in state companies such as Petroecuador, the country’s public hydrocarbons company. According to her, more legislators will adhere to the request in the coming days.
The request read: “This accusation will demonstrate how President Guillermo Lasso Mendoza participated in a corruption structure to obtain benefits for himself and for others.”
The request for censorship of the president is contemplated in the Constitution in article 192.2, which establishes that a political trial may be opened against the president for crimes of concussion, bribery, embezzlement (misappropriation or diversion by a public official of assets, funds or securities) and illicit enrichment.
In his request, Veloz affirmed: “We have presented this impeachment trial because the factual facts, the circumstantial relationship and the conduct of the president are consistent with 192.2: crimes by concussion and embezzlement in the public companies Petroecuador, the Ecuadorian Oil Fleet, Flopec and Coordinating Company of Public Companies, Emco”.
The assemblywoman is the president of the parliamentary commission that investigated the case known as “Encuentro” or “Gran Padrino”, a process for which she recommended starting a political trial against Lasso.
The Presidency rejected the fact in a statement. “This request completely lacks the political and legal elements that would support a trial against the president,” he noted.
“Its sole objective is to attack the institutionality of the Ecuadorian State and democracy itself,” the text added.
OFFICIAL RELEASE | The National Government categorically rejects the destabilizing intentions of the Assembly. pic.twitter.com/YK3m90IgFf
— Communication Ecuador 🇪🇨 (@ComunicacionEc) March 17, 2023
What’s next for Lasso?
Although the formal request passed the Assembly, it still needs to be approved by the Constitutional Court for impeachment to take place.
Of the 137 members of the Assembly, 92 would have to approve the removal of President Lasso, if the process reached a final vote.
Supporters of the president say the request is a desperate attempt by the opposition to tie Lasso up in the “Gran Padrino” case because he has bad relations with the National Assembly.
The “Great Godfather” case
The digital media ‘La Posta’ was the one that brought to light some audios where the businessman Danilo Carrera, Lasso’s brother-in-law, appeared. In these, a plot of corruption in hiring and appointments in state companies could be glimpsed.
In the same audios there was another person close to the ruling party, the businessman Rubén Cherres who was linked in 2021 to an investigation for alleged links to drug trafficking.
Although this investigation was closed, the opposition accuses Lasso of having knowledge of the case and of ordering its termination. Statements repeatedly denied by the president.
Lasso is facing this potential impeachment trial at a time when his Presidency is going through difficult times. In February he lost a referendum promoted by his government with which he intended to make some constitutional reforms. In addition, correísmo won several seats in local elections.
Last year, in June, Lasso dodged an impeachment motion in the Assembly, since the number of votes was not enough. This event occurred in the midst of the indigenous protests that paralyzed the country for 18 days.
With EFE and Reuters