Former Ecuadorian presidential candidate Andrés Aruaz appeared in Bogotá, Colombia with his legal counsel to present a legal complaint against Colombian Attorney General Francisco Barbosa before the Chamber of Representatives of Colombia.
This announcement marks the first formal step toward justice in the case of lawfare and foreign intervention perpetrated by Barbosa with the purpose of undermining Ecuadorian democracy.
In the lead-up to 2021 Ecuadorian general elections, presidential candidate Arauz was the target of lawfare undertaken by the Colombian and Ecuadorian states in collusion with major Colombian media outlet, Semana — a case which also libeled and defamed the Progressive International.
Just weeks before the 2021 elections, Semana published a frontpage story citing Colombian military and intelligence sources who claimed that Andrés Arauz had received an $80,000 USD loan from the National Liberation Army (ELN). The basis of this libelous article were alleged files from a laptop of a slain ELN member Andrés Felipe Vanegas Londoño, known by the alias “Uriel.” But Semana went even further, claiming that the alleged payment took place at the September 2020 inaugural Summit of the Progressive International.
The allegations of the case are demonstrably false.
The Summit of the Progressive International took place entirely online during the first year of covid-19 pandemic. The full Summit proceedings are available here. The Summit entailed no physical gathering and no possible way that the alleged transaction could have been made. The Progressive International categorically rejects the false and malicious information published by Semana regarding an alleged link with the ELN. The Progressive International has never had any contact whatsoever with the ELN.
Only one day later, a widely shared video emerged online with men dressed in military fatigues appearing alongside ELN emblazoned flags and bandanas “from the Colombian jungle” allegedly defending their support for “comrade Andrés.” However, an Ecuadorian ornithologist quickly proved the video to be staged after identifying a bird in the footage that can only be found in Ecuador and Peru. This proved the video was not filmed in Colombia, but in a different country entirely.
Despite no factual basis, the Semana allegations were nevertheless used as a political cudgel to defame Andrés Arauz and spread disinformation. Even Ecuadorian president Lenin Moreno attempted to legitimize the Semana reports, stating in a public address that “it is very serious that drug traffickers’ money is entering the country’s political scene.”
But the actions of Colombian Attorney General Francisco Barbosa turned a propagandistic hit-piece into a matter of direct foreign interference with grave consequences for Ecuadorian democracy.
Just days after the first round of the election, Colombian Attorney General Francisco Barbosa traveled to Quito on an official visit to deliver to his Ecuadorian counterpart, Attorney General Diana Salazar, the supposed evidence against Andrés Arauz. Furthermore, Arauz’s legal team has now obtained new evidence that suggests Barbosa planted false information on the supposed computers belonging to “Uriel.”
The Attorney General’s highly publicized visit and reports of the manufactured scandal were widely shared across all media platforms, severely damaging Aruaz’s image and candidacy at the height of the presidential campaign. Barbosa’s visit represented not only the character assassination of Andrés Arauz by the Colombian state, but illegal foreign interference in Ecuador's presidential elections — a clear and unacceptable violation of national sovereignty.
The announcement of formal legal action is an essential first step toward holding Attorney General Barbosa accountable for his egregious acts of foreign interference in the 2021 Ecuadorian elections.
We demand justice for the people of Ecuador — who saw their sovereignty and democratic process knowingly undermined by Attorney General Francisco Barbosa. And we demand justice for Andrés Arauz.