Latin America-wide corruption scandal now threatens Ecuador’s leftists

The Globe and Mail-01Ecuador’s Vice-President has been stripped of his duties and will face investigation on corruption charges, the highest-profile target yet in a simmering scandal that threatens political stability at a critical time for the country.

Jorge Glas stands accused of taking bribes to facilitate Ecuadoran infrastructure contracts for the Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht S.A. He maintains his innocence.

But Brazilian prosecutors allege he took millions of dollars in kickbacks, a practice they say they uncovered while investigating the giant scandal known as Lava Jato that has been playing out in Brazil for the past three years.

The Brazilians sent Ecuador’s chief prosecutor evidence back in January – but the case sat cold for more than six months, because that prosecutor is a close ally of former president Rafael Correa, an ally of Mr. Glas. …

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During the last several decades, the United States has invested billions of dollars in trying to help the governments of Latin America and the Caribbean deliver better lives for their citizens. This has meant helping them increase internal security by combating the illicit growing and trafficking in narcotics and the activities of terrorist groups, as well as helping them to shore up their democratic and free market institutions.

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