The persecution of Ecuador’s former vice-president Jorge Glas is part of the Lenin Moreno regime’s mission to reverse or erase the many achievements of the Citizen’s Revolution.
23 November marked the 33rd day of the hunger strike led by Jorge Glas, the former vice-president of Ecuador. His health condition deteriorated significantly following his transfer to the Latacunga maximum security prison. After enduring deplorable conditions, he was rushed into Carlos Andrade Marín hospital in Quito on 7 November, but was transferred back to Latacunga afterwards. He has vowed to continue his hunger strike against the continued persecution of him, Rafael Correa and other ministers and political figures who played an instrumental role in leading the revolución ciudadana (Citizens Revolution) and the decade of change.
The accusations of corruption against Jorge Glas have been regarded as part of the strategy of ‘Lawfare’ waged against former and current left-wing and progressive political leaders across Latin America in an attempt to erase more than a decade of economic, social and political achievements. The accusations against Glas are mostly centred on the $13.5 million he allegedly received from the Brazilian construction firm, Odebrecht. According to his family, supporters and legal team, the accusations have little-to-no hard evidence to them, and the legal proceedings are full of irregularities, such as the lack of appeal, a sentence of six years instead of five and of course, his transfer to a maximum security prison where his life is in much greater danger due to his deteriorating health. His innocence, like that of Lula da Silva in Brazil, is supported by his actions – he surrendered to the Ecuadorian justice system in order to clear his name because, in his own words, ‘those who are innocent have no reason to flee’.
Widely considered a political prisoner of the Lenin Moreno regime, Glas was imprisoned in October 2017 following allegations of receiving bribes from Odebrecht. Considered one of the most loyal and ideologically-aligned supporters of former President Rafael Correa, Glas served as his vice-president from 2013 to 2017, as well as coordinating the Ministry for Strategic Sectors during the 2010-2012 period. He was also responsible for the construction of a number of renewable energy projects, such as the Coca Codo Sinclair hydroelectric plant – the largest energy project in Ecuador’s history.
Elected as vice-president in April 2017 on the platform of the Alianza País governing party together with Lenin Moreno, a conflict quickly developed between the two men as Glas openly criticised Moreno’s growing alliance with some of the country’s most rightwing political figures, like Jaime Nebot and Abdala Bucaram Jr. He also opposed Moreno adopting a more neoliberal political and economic agenda, denouncing the legacy of Correa’s Citizens Revolution and blaming Correa for the alleged misuse of funds and corruption within state institutions.
In August 2017, Glas denounced Moreno in a letter to the president, who, in response, removed Glas from all the positions within the ruling party and effectively stripped him of his duties as the vice president. This triggered a major factional crisis that eventually lead to the resignation of Rafael Correa along with 23 members of the National Assembly. While the allegations regarding alleged corruption were circulated by private media since October 2016, the Supreme Court ordered his arrest on 2 October 2017. Glas proceeded to surrender himself to the police, after urging the supporters of the Citizens’ Revolution to keep defending the legacy of its achievements.
The impeachment process formally began in December 2017 and Glas was found guilty of receiving the Brazilian construction company’s bribes and sentenced to six years in prison. The fast-tracked trial, without an effective system of appeal along with a number of other irregularities, were criticised by Glas’ and Correa’s supporters, leading to allegations that the trial is politically motivated and aimed at purging the government of any opposition to Moreno’s increasingly rightwing and neoliberal agenda.
Glas was transferred to Cárcel 4 prison in Quito and formally removed from his position as the country’s vice-president on 3 January 2018. On 21 October, he was transferred to Latacunga and commenced his hunger strike shortly afterwards.
In Ecuador, Rafael Correa and Jorge Glas, alongside political leaders like Ricardo Patiño, Gabriela Rivandeneira, Guillaume Long, Pabel Muñoz and others, implemented more than a decade of progressive reform that lifted two million people out of poverty, significantly reduced income inequality, created political stability, reclaimed the oil revenue for investment into health, education and infrastructure and helped bring Ecuador onto the world stage by offering asylum to Julian Assange. These are the crimes for which these leaders are now being unfairly and unjustly persecuted in a politically-motivated witch-hunt initiated by the government of Lenin Moreno and his allies among the country’s old political and economic elite.
At the same time, Correa himself has been targeted by the Ecuadorian Supreme Court for his alleged role in the kidnapping of former journalist Fernando Balda, although international security agencies like Interpol have dismissed the Ecuadorian government’s demands to arrest him. Finally, the status of political asylum for Julian Assange remains uncertain following Moreno’s meeting with US vice-president Mike Pence and apparent willingness to eject him from the Ecuadorian embassy in London. The restrictions placed upon Assange, including blocking his internet and communications, as well as prohibiting visitations, have been condemned as a form of torture and imprisonment designed to force him out of the embassy.
Solidarity with Jorge Glas, Rafael Correa and Julian Assange is needed now more than ever.