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Why does Ecuador's anti-left government want to pursue the leftist opposition leader?
On Thursday, the Ecuadorean Attorney General's office announced the solicitation of a Red Notice request to Interpol for the capture of the foreign minister under former President Rafael Correa, Ricardo Patiño. As the goverment ramps up its attacks on the opposition, this opposition leader and vocal critic of the current government President Lenin Moreno has come under the gaze of lawfare attacks.
Who is Ricardo Patiño, and why is the Ecuadorean government after him now?
Patiño is mostly known for his role as head of the Ministry of Foreign Relations and Human Mobility, during the goverment of the Citizen's Revolution led by Correa. During his time as Foreign Minister, Patiño strengthened ties with Latin America and was an important player in the founding of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), which has lately also come under fire with right-wing governments withdrawing from the group.
incidentally, he was also the Foreign Minister when Ecuador decided to give political asylum to Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, setting up a 7 year stay in the London embassy that ended recently when President Lenin Moreno's government revoked his status and let him be arrested by London police.
Patiño is an economist educated in Mexico and with a master's degree in the same field from a university in Spain. His education and his support of the "Jubileo 2000" movement were of paramount importance at the beginning of Ecuador's Citizen's Revolution while negotiating the South American country's external debt that allowed the government a means of moving away from the previous administration's devastating neoliberal policies.
After graduating from the Metropolitan Autonomous University (UAM) in Mexico, Patiño arrived in Nicaragua to fight against the bloody Somoza dictatorship alongside the Sandinista Revolution. After the Revolution's triumph, Patiño worked in the Department of Economic Planning National in the Institute of Agrarian Reform for the Southern Region.
Ricardo Patiño, among other heads of the "Jubileo 2000" and other social movements, was part of the team of close advisors to former President Rafael Correa since the beginning of his political career. When the Citizens Revolution process began, Patiño was part of the leadership of Alianza Pais movement.
He also served as Minister of Economy and Finance, as Minister Coordinator of Politics and Autonomous Governments, as Minister of Foreign Affairs and as Minister of Defense. He was one of the most important Ecuadorean voices for sovereignty, regional integration, and making the Ecuadorean citizens part of the diplomacy, as well as supporting the millions of Ecuadorean migrants around the world.
Why does Ecuador want him?
The process follows the playbook that many Latin American governments that have moved to the right have been following in recent years of using lawfare to oust politicians. From Luiz Ignacio Lula da Silva in Brazil, to Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner in Argentina, to Rafael Correa in Ecuador, goverments have been using lawfare to reduce popular politicians' influence among the electorate and to consolidate their own power.
In Patiño's case, he, along with former President Rafael Correa, had called for a march which took place Tuesday, to protest Lenin Moreno's neoliberal policies, as well as to protest irregularies related to stripping journalist-activist Julian Assange of his political asylum which left him open to arrest in London and now extradition to the United States. The marches were well attended and police repression against the Ecuadorean populace was strong.
At this point Patiño is the main voice of the opposition within the country, which has driven authorities to attack him by accusing him of "incitement." This charge is based on a vague statement he made when calling for a strong response from the opposition to Moreno's neoliberal attacks on the Ecuadorean people in the form of layoffs, increasing the reitrement age, increasing taxes on the poor, among other proposals.
He has recently left the country but Ecuadorean officials want him captured and held under preventative detention under the charge of 'instigation' or incitement, and has requested assistence from Interpol.
A similar request to capture former President Rafael Correa failed beacuse Interpol assessed the request as an afront to the human rights of the former leader.