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Balda Case: a new test for Rafael Correa in Ecuador

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The start of the trial for the kidnapping of former Assemblyman Fernando Balda puts a new test to former President Rafael Correa, who is accused of having ordered it

 

Balda Case: a new test for Rafael Correa in Ecuador

Just in the antechamber of Ecuador's sectional elections, which will take place next Sunday, March 24, the trial for the kidnapping of Balda could significantly affect the political aspirations of Correa and his Alianza País movement. The scandal may affect the party, because these elections aspire to be a majority in the provinces and municipalities of Ecuador, in order to counteract the government of the current president, Lenin Moreno and the opponents of Correa, who are Moreno's allies.

Leer en español: Caso Balda: una nueva prueba para Rafael Correa en Ecuador

 

The trial began on February 4, and in this one, the people responsible for the kidnapping of Fernando Balda will be judged. The kidnapping took place in Bogotá (Colombia) on August 13, 2012. The officials responsible for the Correa government are named as responsible, that at that time belonged to the National Secretariat of Intelligence, who paid with state monies to those who executed the plagiarism of Balda, which was finally frustrated by the Colombian authorities.

 

In accordance with the above, Rafael Correa has been appointed by Balda to have ordered his kidnapping and to use for that purpose, the State and its institutions. The accusations are made, also, considering that Balda was one of the biggest opponents of the Correa government and has permanently made complaints against him. The accusation against Correa is based on the fact that, precisely, those complaints were the ones that would have motivated Correa to order that kidnapping.

 

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The background of the Balda case

As a political persecutor of the Rafael Correa government, Fernando Balda sought refuge in Colombia since 2009, and later, since mid-2010,  he began to reside permanently in Colombia. Balda was part of Alianza País and a partner of Rafael Correa, but in 2009 he left the ruling party and began to be a member of the opposition, accompanying and advising former president Lucio Gutiérrez, Correa's greatest critic.

During his stay in Colombia, Balda became close to former President Álvaro Uribe Vélez and several of his closest men, especially José Obdulio Gaviria. According to the Semana magazine, after the frustrated kidnapping, on October 11, 2012, Fernando Balda was approached by the Colombian immigration authorities, who informed him that they had the order to deport him. This, claiming that Ecuador had requested it because there was a judicial sentence against him, for the crime of serious slanderous insult, for which his immigration status was irregular.

That same night, Balda was taken to the Military Airport of Catam in Bogota, where an airplane of the Colombian Air Force transported him to Quito. Already on Ecuadorian soil, Balda was received by Rommy Vallejo, then head of the Internal Security Management Unit of the presidency of Ecuador.

Later, the former Assemblyman was taken on another plane to Guayaquil and held in El Litoral penitentiary. Two weeks later he was transferred to a high-security pavilion of the García Moreno prison in Quito, and on January 7, 2013, a judge sentenced him for attacking the State's security.

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The implications of Correa:

 

In the Balda case, there are two major parties involved: former President Rafael Correa - who is currently in exile in Belgium - and Pablo Romero, head of the National Intelligence Secretariat during the Correa government - exiled in Spain - who is accused of executing the kidnapping of Balda, through former intelligence agents Raúl Chicaiza and Diana Falcón, who, while in turn, paid the people who plagiarized the former assemblyman.

 

In this regard, the newspaper La República noted that during the first trial hearing, Chicaiza said that former President Correa ordered "bring as it is to Ecuador" to Fernando Balda and that it was Pablo Romero who transferred that order to him. Chicaiza also reported that he met Balda in May 2012, that he paid the executors $28,000 in cash and that at least two of the kidnappers were Colombian soldiers.

However, Correa has always denied those accusations and has assured with a vehemence that it is political persecution of his opponents. The newspaper El Comercio highlighted this, and recalled that in a recent interview with the EFE agency, Correa argued that the former president did not imply that he knew about the case or was responsible for everything, assuring that he will not be presented to trial "because he does not believe in the independence of the Justice of your country".

 

El Comercio also highlights that, if Correa remains in his position and does not appear before the Ecuadorian justice, he must wait until 2022 or 2027, depending on the Legal Code that is applied to prescribe the cause for the kidnapping. However, if another cause is opened for the crime of embezzlement - due to the payment of the kidnapping - and Correa will be tried, it would be a crime that does not prescribe in the Ecuadorian legislation.

 

At the moment the political environment in Ecuador is back on. While all the opposition firmly believes that Correa is responsible for ordering the kidnapping of Balda; Alianza País, the followers of Correa and the same former president, insist on their innocence and reaffirm that everything is the product of a persecution, whose objective is to prevent Correa from being a candidate and returning to power, more now in the middle of the election campaign sectional

 

LatinAmerican Post | Samuel Augusto Gallego Suárez

Translated from "Caso

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