Former Ecuadorian President Jamil Mahuad is now a wanted man by Interpol, the nation’s Minister of the Interior announced this week. Mahuad, a former Harvard lecturer and current fellow there, is wanted for embezzlement after years of the socialist Ecuadorian government lobbying Interpol to help them capture him.
“Interpol issues red alert for Jamil Mahuad for embezzlement… a thorough work that we given them on information has determined this action,” tweeted Ecuadorian Minister of the Interior José Serrano Salgado yesterday. The announcement was followed by Interpol placing Mahuad in their online roster of wanted criminals. He added in a press conference that “we are not engaging in political persecution; we pursue crimes by citizens that commit illicit acts.”
The Ecuadorian government has been attempting to extradite Mahuad, who served his tenure in the 1990s, for thirteen years. There are no specifics as to what amount of money Mahuad embezzled or where he embezzled it from that have been made public, and Interpol has denied this request for many years, arguing that it was a “political” case, with little evidence of criminality.
Mahuad denies the charges and moved to the United States in 2000 after being removed in a coup fueled by indigenous rebellion. He has since worked as a lecturer and fellow at Harvard University, where he also studied at the Kennedy School of Government. The BBC notes that an economic crisis during his tenure forced Mahuad to freeze bank accounts and replace Ecuador’s currency with the dollar.
The persecution of a former Ecuadorian president currently in residence in the United States is yet another act in which the government of Ecuador places itself in direct opposition to the United States. The Ecuadorian government renounced trade benefits from the United States to pave the way for giving asylum to Edward Snowden last year, though Snowden decided to stay in Moscow. Earlier this year, Correa asked military officers to leave, complaining that the United States had “too many” officers in the country.
Correa is currently working to amend the Constitution of Ecuador to extend his tenure. While Ecuador’s presidents are currently bound by term limits, Correa visited his nation’s legislature this week to support an amendment that would ban term limits and allow for indefinite reelection. “After a profound reflection, and making clear that sometimes one must choose the lesser evil, I insist, I believe in the stability of institutions, so I have decided to support these measures,” he told legislators.