Ecuador’s Vice-President Jorge Glas has been sentenced to six years prison for taking $13 million in bribes from the construction company Odebrecht. However, the case is being complicated by a split within the ruling party and between President Moreno and ex-President Correa
G. Wilpert: Ecuador’s Vice President Jorge Glas has been sentenced to six years in prison for taking $13 million in bribes from the Brazilian Construction Company Odebrecht.
Judge Edgar Flores: [in Spanish] In the name of the sovereign people of Ecuador and by the authority of the Constitution and the laws of the Republic, I hereby impose to Mr. Jorge David Glas Espinel, Ricardo Genaro Rivera Arau…a penalty of six years of ordinary minor imprisonment.
G. Wilpert: If the sentence is confirmed in the appeals process, Glas would be the highest ranking sitting Ecuadorian official to be convicted in corruption cases related to Odebrecht. The company has already admitted to paying $788 million in bribes over the past 16 years to officials of 12 different countries, most of them in Latin America.
The case against is Glas is overlaid with the conflict between former President Rafael Correa and current President Lenin Moreno. Moreno is Correa’s handpicked successor, but shortly after Moreno was elected in April of this year, he broke from Correa. Moreno criticized Correa’s management of Ecuador’s economy and accused him of running an external debt higher than legally allowed.
Moreno also distanced himself from Vice President Glas, a long-time Correa friend. At the same time, evidence began to surface that implicated Glas in the Latin America-wide Odebrecht corruption scandal. Correa says he’s is convinced of his friend’s innocence.
Ever since then, Correa and Moreno have battled each other in social media and on the airwaves. The conflict is about to split the governing party known as the Alianza PAIS. Correa and his supporters said a case against Glas is trumped-up and circumstantial, and is being used to distract from Moreno’s neo-liberal economic turn.’
Moreno and his supporters say Correa’s policies ignored corruption and hurt both Ecuador’s economy and its environment, and now needs to be corrected.
Both sides have made valid points. Economically, Moreno has indeed collaborated with the opposition with Ecuador’s business sector and with the IMF, and is in the process of lowering some taxes. But on the environmental policy, Moreno has also promised to expand protections for Ecuador’s Amazon rainforest and for its indigenous population.
Meanwhile, as the party that brought both Moreno and Correa to power is about to divide into two, it remains to be seen whether the case against Vice President Glas holds on appeal, and whether he spends the next six years in prison.