Jorge Glas and the future of the Ecuatorian Vicepresidency

Currently, Maria Alejandra Vicuña, Minister of Urban Development and Housing, has assumed the function. Will she be the new Vice President of Ecuador?

Jorge Glas and the future of the Ecuatorian Vicepresidency

Leer en Español: Jorge Glas y el futuro de la vicepresidencia ecuatoriana

The trial against Jorge Glas in Ecuador, for his participation in the Odebrecht corruption scandal, leaves the country's Vice-presidency in a political limbo. The vice-president has not been officially removed from office; however, the National Assembly seeks to dismiss and censor him. According to El Universo, the next January 2nd the constitutional process will be officially carried out to finish the vice-presidential functions due to abandonment of office.

The Odebrecht investigation in Ecuador has directly implicated three characters 'with managerial level'. They are: José Conceicao dos Santos, Jorge Glas and Carlos Pólit. The Support Investigations Unit of the Prosecutor's Office has declared them as part of the illegal structure of the Brazilian company in the country. Undoubtedly, the presence of the Vice President of the Republic, Jorge Glas, and former Comptroller Carlos Pólit in the list of investigated, makes it difficult for Lenin Moreno's Administration and for the execution of public works during his mandate.

Those involved in the Odebrecht case in Ecuador are under trial mainly for four crimes: illicit association, money laundering, concussion and bribery. It is estimated that, in this South American nation, the bribes of Odebrecht between 2007 and 2016 accumulated amounts of around 33.5 million dollars, three times the amount associated with the Odebrecht scandal in Colombia.

Jorge Glas, a former political partner of President Rafael Correa, is one of the most notorious names in the Odebrecht case in Ecuador, and his innocence seems not to be backed up by current President Lenin Moreno. While Glas had previously left his post to support the political campaign of current President Moreno, both characters had distanced politically and publicly in August of this year. The distancing took place when the Moreno government handed over the National Electricity Corporation (CNEL) to former President Abdalá Bucaram Ortiz, something that was harshly criticized by Glas. Since then, the President had removed Glas’ official functions, considering his comments an unfair criticism of the Citizens' Revolution.

However, the political problem between Moreno and Glas has been linked to the development of the Odebrecht case in Ecuador. The corruption scandal is beginning to take its toll, and for which justice has made a gigantic effort during this year to accelerate the process of those involved. Since Glas was officially accused, in September of this year, the case has been advancing rapidly both in the judicial branch and in the Ecuadorian legislative power. On December 14, the National Court of Justice (CNJ) gave a sentence of six years in prison for Jorge Glas. Later, on December 21, the Constitutional Court (CC) unanimously opened the door to the trial against him, sentenced in the first instance by illicit association.

From the CC sentence, on December 26 formally began the impeachment in the National Assembly against Glas. This action was preceded by the Legislative Administrative Council (CAL), the highest legislative administration body of the country. The importance of this part of the process, the speed with which the Assembly has acted, and the consequent oversight of the process, lie in the possibility of judging Glas under the regime of his current political office and hold him accountable accordingly. This establishes for the Assembly the possibility of dismissal and censorship of Jorge Glas next January 2nd, the day on which he will officially cease to be the vice president of Ecuador.

Nevertheless, what this judgment makes clear is that there is a vacuum in the spheres of power of the Ecuadorian government that must be filled with the election of a new vice president. The new mandatary will have to be capable of fulfilling his functions while there is an outcome for the current corruption scandal that has splashed throughout Latin America, and that has obstructed Moreno's mandate in Ecuador.

Since October, when the precautionary measures against Vice President Glas were transformed into preventive prison, the Minister of Urban Development and Housing, María Alejandra Vicuña, has been acting as vice president in charge. One of the possibilities that the Ecuadorian government considers is to wait for the fulfillment of the 90 days necessary to decree the abandonment of the position, and then to extend the mandate of Maria Alejandra Vicuña.

LatinAmerican Post | Laura Delgado

Copy edited by Marcela Peñaloza

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