Recent audio evidence revealed by the IDL-Reporteros implicates Vice President of Ecuador Jorge Glas in the massive Odebrecht corruption scandal. Jorge Glas was first elected Vice President in 2013 under President Rafael Correa and again in 2017 under President Lenin Moreno.
The conversation took place in July 2016 between José Conceiçao, head of Odebrecht in Ecuador from 2010 to 2016, and Carlos Pólit, Comptroller General of Ecuador from 2007 to 2017. In the recording, Conceiçao says that Glas “asked me for money for all contracts.” *
The recordings come not long after several persons close to Vice President Glas were arrested on corruption charges related to Odebrecht. Ricardo Rivera, Glas’s uncle, and Tomislav Topic, general manager of Telconet, are accused of crimes related to the Odebrecht case.
On July 25th, Vice President Glas told reporters that he did not know about his uncle’s crimes.
“Not at all. I have no knowledge of the relations between Topic and Ricardo Rivera, but that is what the investigations are and must investigate with all the forces of the Attorney General.” *
That same day, the office of the prosecutor of the transparency and anti-corruption unit ordered Glas to appear on August 9th to give a statement relating to the corruption case against Rivera and Topic.
On August 1st after the audio tapes between José Conceiçao and Carlos Pólit became public, Glas stated that he is innocent and accused the political opposition of attacking him without evidence.
“Based on a strategy of media lynching and fierce attacks by the political opposition has sought to destroy my honor and that of my family, so I demand respect and rigor in the handling of information. It will be the justice system that independently acts as a rule of law. ” *
Later that same day, Glas announced that there was another audio recording between Odebrecht officials and himself. However, Glas reiterated his innocence. The Vice President also stated that investigators should determine if someone else was using his name, with the implication that he was being framed.
The Vice President has also been under fire politically from the opposition in the National Congress. In June, the opposition announced that it had enough signatures to initiate impeachment proceedings against Glas.
In mid-July, the Administrative Council of the Legislature declined to pursue a case against the Vice President.
Undeterred by the setback, opposition parties continue to attack Vice President Glas on corruption allegations. The revelations brought to light by the audio tapes will only bolster the opposition’s attempts to remove Glas from office.
Political crises have become the new normal in the Americas this year. The executive branches in Brazil, the United States, Venezuela, and now Ecuador all face severe challenges.
In Brazil, the Chamber of Deputies will vote on August 2nd whether or not to suspend President Michel Temer from office. This vote comes after audio recordings emerged, in which President Temer appears to collude to silence a political ally that was sentenced to 15 years in prison on corruption charges.
In the United States, the connections between President Donald Trump and Russian interference in the 2016 presidential race are becoming more apparent, and his administration is slowly losing support from Republicans in the Congress.
In Venezuela, the July 30th election for members of the Constituent Assembly may prove to be the event that signaled the end of democracy in Venezuela. Already there are reports that the government of President Nicolás Maduro manipulated the number of votes cast in the election.
The political crises occurring throughout the Americas have revealed weaknesses that many governments have, including corruption, contempt for democratic norms, and authoritarianism. In all four cases, a victory for the rule of law and democracy is possible, but such a victory must be vociferously fought for.
* Author’s translation
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