Ecuadorian opposition leader Gabriela Rivadeneira, now in political asylum in the Mexican Embassy in Quito. Photo: eltelegrafo.ec

By THÉRÈSE MARGOLIS

In the midst of violent anti-government protests across Ecuador sparked by government fuel price hikes, Mexico’s embassy in Quito has granted political asylum to Ecuadorian opposition leader Gabriela Rivadeneira, the Mexican Foreign Relations Secretariat (SRE) announced Saturday, Oct. 12,

Rivadeneira, a member of the leftist Citizen Revolution Movement (MRC) party that supports former Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa, was the head of Ecuador’s legislative assembly during Correa’s presidency.

The left-leaning Correa — who served as Ecuador’s president from 2007 to 2017 and is now living in self-imposed exile in Belgium and facing 29 separate charges against him in Ecuador on charges ranging from corruption to misuse of power — has been accused by current Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno of fanning the violence in an attempt to spark a coup against Moreno.

Rivadeneira posted anti-Moreno commentaries in social media protesting the president’s severe austerity measures aimed at helping the country finance more than $4 billion in International Monetary Fund (IMF) loans.

In a media statement issued Saturday night, SRE said that “in keeping with its diplomatic tradition,” the Mexican Embassy in Quito will provide “protection and safeguard” to Rivadeneira in accordance with international law.

“Mexico reiterates is commitment to respect, protect and promote the human rights of all individuals, independent of their political affiliations, and underscores its concerns regarding the current political situation in the Republic of Ecuador,” the statement read.

“In accordance with the constitutional principles of (Mexico’s) foreign policy, the government reaffirms its position of nonintervention and expresses its desire for a democratic, peaceful solution in Ecuador through dialogue.”

On Sunday, Oct. 13, tensions in Ecuador dialed down slightly as the government agreed to meet with protesters in a bid to end the violence.

The protesters are demanding the return of fuel subsidies, which the government abolished as part of its austerity measures.

Meanwhile, a government military-enforced curfew imposed on Saturday in Quito and surrounding areas remains in effect.

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