The Ecuadorian Minister of Agriculture presented his resignation on Tuesday after being mentioned in revelations on a digital portal about an alleged and tangled plot of influence peddling, in which a brother-in-law of President Guillermo Lasso is also mentioned.
In his resignation letter, the now ex-minister Bernardo Manzano said that a digital portal has stated that his arrival in government is due to the management of someone outside the regime and that, “despite the falsity of those statements,” he considered “prudent step aside” to avoid damaging the credibility of the Lasso executive.
He assures in his farewell letter that the conversation referred to in the journalistic complaint took place “ten months before” his appointment.
The portal The post The day before, it published a series of alleged official documents, among which was a police intelligence report that monitored the behavior of people close to the government. The investigation was archived.
The Minister of the Interior, Juan Zapata, confirmed the existence of the police intelligence report mentioned by the digital medium, from which the same portal later shared fragments with journalists in the country.
Lasso responded on the radio and television network on Tuesday night and assured that this medium has invented and published “absurd comics.” He called journalists “news entertainment mercenaries” and warned not to confuse free speech with debauchery, because their patience has a limit, but their “chutzpah is unlimited.”
He added that it is an abuse to publish a reserved report, omitting to say that the content was dismissed by the prosecution and archived by court order “for lack of merits.” He commented that it is also an abuse to make believe that a report constitutes an investigation that has been hidden and. thereby acting against the public interest. He warned that he will fight against these abuses, but without giving details.
The alleged official documents also indicate that Manzano came to his position in the Agriculture portfolio through the management of Rubén Chérrez, who was not part of the government, although he allegedly had a close friendship with Lasso’s brother-in-law, Danilo Carrera.
Carrera was also mentioned by the same portal at the end of January as part of another alleged corruption scheme parallel in state companies, especially in the electricity sector, in which large sums of money were allegedly demanded in exchange for contracts with the State.
Regarding his brother-in-law, he said that he may not have been suspicious enough to detect dishonest people who wanted to use it and assured that “no one in my family has ever participated in my government, they have not even dared to suggest alternatives for my decisions ”.
Carrera has denied any involvement in that case and has demanded incriminating evidence. The president’s brother-in-law initiated a lawsuit against those responsible for the digital portal demanding compensation of half a million dollars.
Since Monday, The post —quoting the alleged police report— has also mentioned alleged links between Chérrez and Carrera with members of an Albanian mafia that controls drug shipments from Ecuador to Europe. This report is supported by police surveillance between May 2021 and January 2022, when it was archived on the grounds that no solid evidence was obtained.
The General Prosecutor’s Office, in a statement, assured that it has ordered that a legal control be initiated on the prosecutor’s decision to request the judicial closure of the exposed case on alleged influence peddling and alleged relationship with Albanian drug traffickers.
The Communications Secretariat of the Presidency reacted on Tuesday and assured that the government rejects these “falsehoods that seek to cause chaos in the country” and warned that freedom of expression should not be confused with licentiousness. But he did not confirm or deny the veracity of the report cited by the digital portal or its content.
Lasso took office in May 2020 and since then his government has faced an opposition majority in the Assembly, led by the parties Revolución Ciudadana, former President Rafael Correa (2007-2017), and Pachakutik, the political wing of the indigenous movement. Until now, Parliament has blocked almost all of his management projects.
Source: VOA Español