In an unfortunate progression of events, the State Department declared Ecuador’s ambassador to the U.S. persona non grata yesterday. This move was a response to Ecuador’s earlier expulsion of the U.S. Ambassador Heather Hodges in Quito due to comments revealed in a Wikileaks report. The leaked diplomatic cable detailed allegations made by Ambassador Hodges regarding corruption in the Ecuadorean police force.
It would be a mistake to see the State Department’s response as a mere reciprocal act. While Ambassador Hodges’ allegations may have been accurate, the State Department should be understanding of Ecuador’s sensitivity to incursions of its sovereignty. The principal concern on the part of Ecuadorian officials was over the infiltration into the Ecuadorean police force by which U.S. officials obtained the information in the leaked cable.
The U.S. needs to take a more partner-oriented diplomatic approach with Ecuador, and accept a degree of fallout resulting from the leaked cable. While concern over corruption in Ecuador is justified, any U.S. infiltration into the Ecuadorian police force to uncover corruption is a clear violation of sovereignty, and would not be tolerated if the scenario were reversed.
It’s unclear where the U.S. and Ecuador will go from here. It will take a good dose of diplomacy to diffuse the situation. We’ll be sure to report any major updates as they occur.
Written by COHA Research Associate Adrian Carroll