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  HOME | Ecuador (Click here for more)

US Expels Ecuador Ambassador

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The United States has expelled the Ecuador Ambassador to the U.S. 2 days after Ecuador expelled US Ambassador to Ecuador Heather Hodges.

Ecuador's Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino Patiño said he summoned Hodges to his office on Monday to ask for an explanation regarding the cable, but the diplomat responded that the documents had been stolen and that neither she nor her government would make any comment on the matter.

The expulsion “is directed at an official who (sent) a cable of that nature and who afterwards gave no clarification,” the Ecuadorian minister said.

“Corruption among Ecuadorian National Police officers is widespread and well-known,” according to the July 2009 report to the State Department from the U.S. Embassy in Quito.

The document says that Jaime Hurtado, who commanded the ENP from April 2008 to June 2009, “used his positions to extort bribes, facilitate human trafficking, misappropriate public funds, obstruct investigations and prosecutions of corrupt colleagues, and engage in other corrupt acts for personal enrichment.”

The cable also takes a swipe at Correa for deciding to promote Hurtado to ENP chief.

“Hurtado’s corrupt activities were so widely known within the upper ranks of the ENP that some Embassy officials believe that President Correa must have been aware of them when he made the appointment. These observers believe that Correa may have wanted to have an ENP Chief whom he could easily manipulate,” the message says.

In an interview with Efe, Patiño called that statement “absolutely irresponsible” and “incorrect.”

“It’s absolutely unacceptable. Our government cannot accept this type of information, which was given by the ambassador in our country,” Patiño said.

Hodges was sworn in as U.S. Ambassador to Ecuador on July 15, 2008.

Prior to that, she was Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Office of the Director General. She was U.S. Ambassador to Moldova from September 2003 to May 2006.

She joined the Foreign Service in 1980, cutting her teeth in Caracas, Venezuela.

Following Caracas, she served in Guatemala and later in Washington as Peru Desk Officer. In 1987, Hodges received a Pearson Fellowship to work in the U.S. Congress, where she was counsel to the Senate Subcommittee on Immigration and Refugee Affairs. In January 1989, she became Consul General at the U.S. Consulate in Bilbao, Spain. In 1991, she returned to Washington to serve as Deputy Director of the Office of Cuban Affairs.

In 1993, Hodges became Deputy Chief of Mission in Managua, Nicaragua. She went on to serve as Deputy Chief of Mission in Lima, Peru, from July 1997 to May 2000 and the U.S. Embassy in Madrid, Spain, from June 2000 to July 2003.

Before she left Spain, the Spanish government awarded Hodges the Spanish decoration of “Isabel la Catolica – Encomienda de Numero” for her contributions to Spanish-U.S. relations. Similarly, the Government of Moldova presented her with the Award of Honor in 2006, and the same year she was awarded a Presidential Meritorious Service Award.

Hodges is a native of Cleveland, Ohio. She has a B.A. in Spanish from the College of St. Catherine, in St. Paul, Minnesota, and an M.A. from New York University and speaks fluent Spanish.

Ecuador expelled two American diplomats -- including First Secretary Mark Sullivan -- in February 2009 for "unacceptable interference in Ecuador's internal affairs."

In July 2008, Ecuador President Rafael Correa refused to renew a 10 year lease on a U.S. air base in the Ecuadorean port city of Manta, which the U.S. used to conduct anti-drug surveillance in the region. The U.S. left the Manta air base in September 2009.


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