“I will present evidence of my innocence”
By Gonzalo Ruiz Tovar (dpa)
HAVANA TIMES – Ecuador’s vice president, Jorge Glas, involved in a legal process for alleged corruption linked to the Odebrecht case, said in an interview with dpa that there will be no evidence against him because he is innocent, and that the move by president Lenin Moreno obeys political reasons.
What is your reading after starting the process against you Tuesday?
Glas: This is an orchestrated attack (by the media and opposition) that began two years ago and in the middle of that came the Odebrecht issue. I am vice-president and that determines that when the procedural part begins there must be an authorization from the Legislative Assembly, where Alianza País (AP, the ruling party) has the majority block. They thought that I was going to hide in that constitutional lock, but when I barely knew the decision of the attorney general to ask that I be linked to a procedural stage of 30 days, that is of investigation, I announced to the country that I had requested to my companions of AP to accept the request to the National Court of Justice. Ecuador does not deserve to have a vice president under suspicion, nor do I, my movement or my family deserve it.
Why do you think the judicial process serves you?
Glas: For me it’s one more chance to prove my innocence. It is a conspiracy against a political process, it aims to destroy what was achieved in 10 years and attack the former president (Rafael) Correa and Moreno himself, even if he does not see it that way. I am already facing the process within a Rule of Law and not within a state of opinion and that leaves the politicking to one side.
With the attitude of Moreno to take away your functions, do you feel deprived of your political role? How do you interpret that gesture?
Glas: No way, because I’m the first vice president of Alianza País. I have not deviated an inch from revolutionary principles. The president was disturbed by a public statement in which I expressed my disagreement with the return of the old country (because of the dialogue with the opposition) and pointed out that those pacts behind the people, under the table, were unacceptable.
And you have also rejected that Moreno criticizes the economic management of Correa.
Glas: It is part of a process to destroy what was created in the 10 years and probably the forerunner – and I am not part of the Government, I make it very clear -, of policies against the people. The Constitution mandates that the tax system should be progressive, the more one the more they pay, but there is strong pressure from big capitals to lower taxes and compensate them with others or eliminating subsidies. I issued my opinion and there was an overreaction by the president. He took away my executive functions that he had entrusted to me. I will continue with my constitutional role and work on a positive agenda.
Do you think that there is a political motivation behind Moreno’s actions?
Glas: You’d have to ask him. The fight against corruption was inaugurated in 2007. One figure: public companies lost 70 million dollars a year and now they are close to 300 million in profits. Today there is no impunity. There has been no corrupt act that has not been investigated and sanctioned. When we detect that there were companies in tax havens in the hands of public servants we initiated an international investigation in the hands of the Justice and now they are prisoners or fugitives in countries that do not return them. They haven’t found a cent that I have appropriated, a secret account, but I was sentenced by the media, which no longer discuss my guilt or innocence, but how many years in prision they should give me.
One element used to link you to the corruption is that your uncle Ricardo Rivera (brother of your mother) was apparently an intermediary in bribes. What is your personal relationship with him?
Glas: And where is he? A prisoner. If he did something against the law he must respond to justice. We had a close relationship until 2007 and since then I live in Quito (and he in Guayaquil). I saw him once or twice a year.
Do you trust the justice system?
Glas: I trust it even though it has clearly succumbed to pressure by the media lynching. I submit myself to the court and I will present evidence that shows my innocence. Over the last two years they haven’t found a piece of evidence against me and they won’t be able to in these 30 days.
How can this whole case be reflected within AP?
Glas: I see that the ideological coherence of AP strengthened. We are a political process that was born for the citizens, not for the elites. I am grateful for the support of my fellow lawmakers by ratifying their trust and accepting the request for investigation.
How to deal with corruption?
Glas: We have taken very important steps. Before it was accepted and that wasn’t the case with us. But eradicating it is very difficult with supranational legal frameworks that promote it, such as tax havens. In the last elections the people supported a referendum stating that no public servant can have assets or patrimony in fiscal paradises. It is already enshrined in law. Citizen’s mandate is a way of fighting. The world should be organized to fight against corruption.
Two weeks ago, Correa (who lives in Belgium) publicly ratified his support for you. Have you talked to him again? How do you feel?
Glas: Yes, we have talked several times. He is very worried about what is happening.
Jorge Glas, a 47-year-old electrical engineer, is very close to Correa since they were both boy scouts. In the first term of the Government of Correa (2007-2013) he was in charge of the telecommunications sector and in the second he was Vice President and Minister of Strategic Sectors, a position from which he is accused of receiving bribes from Odebrecht. In March he was re-elected Vice President, this time with Moreno.