Opposition in South American state calls for president’s impeachment

Lazy eyes listen


Ecuador’s opposition lawmakers have filed a formal impeachment request against President Guillermo Lasso, accusing him of extortion and embezzlement from public companies. An earlier attempt to impeach the conservative politician in June failed due to the leader’s refusal to negotiate with indigenous protesters.

The petition was signed by 59 assembly members from the Union for Hope (UNES), Social Christian, and Democratic Left parties and was presented on Thursday.

“The president is politically responsible for extortion and embezzlement crimes,” Viviana Veloz of former President Rafael Correa’s UNES party declared during the National Assembly session. “It will be demonstrated in this accusation how President Guillermo Lasso Mendoza participated in a corrupt structure to obtain benefits for himself and others.”

Arauz, backed by Correa, leads in Ecuador’s election but falls short of a one-round victory.

If the impeachment process reaches the final stage, 92 of the Assembly’s 137 lawmakers must sign on for it to be approved, and the court system must establish “judicial responsibility” to remove Lasso. Veloz stated that she was confident of legislative support because the claims were supported by “abundant” evidence.

The impeachment attempt by the Assembly has been rejected by Lasso’s government as a “destabilization” attempt. “This request is completely devoid of the political and legal elements necessary to support a process against the president,” the administration stated.

The legislature declassified a slew of documents related to investigations into corruption at public companies earlier this week, attempting to build a case for impeaching Lasso, though the names of the president and his family reportedly did not appear in the documents.

Earlier this month, the Assembly approved a report that accused Lasso of handing out high-level positions and favorable contracts in exchange for bribes, and suggested he could be involved in crimes against state security and public administration. The report was dismissed by Lasso’s office as a “attack on reason,” claiming it lacked “legal and binding validity.”

Despite failing to find any link between Lasso and an alleged bribery scheme involving the Albanian mafia, Ecuador’s public electric utility, and Lasso’s brother-in-law Danilo Carrero Drouet during a two-month investigation earlier this year, opposition lawmakers have moved forward with impeachment efforts.

Lasso, a former banker, won the 2021 presidential election against leftist rival Andrez Arauz, a former Correa protégé who ran on a promise to end IMF-mandated austerity programs and roll back the neoliberal reforms of Correa’s hand-picked successor Lenin Moreno. While Moreno began his presidency as a leftist, following in the footsteps of his mentor, his subsequent hard right sent his popularity plummeting into the single digits, and he chose not to run for reelection.