[JURIST] Authorities in Ecuador [BBC backgrounder] on Tuesday announced, via Twitter [status post], the issuance of an arrest warrant for former president Jamil Mahuad on the grounds that he allegedly misappropriated public funds during the late 1990s. Interior Minister Jose Serrano stated that a “red notice” had been issued by Interpol [official website]. Authorities sought a red notice against Mahuad in 2012, but their request was denied. The former president has been on trial in absentia for 13 years, but the trial has now halted in Mahuad’s absence. The former president fled the country during a coup and was last known to be teaching in the US.
Mahuad served as president during the 1999 financial crisis, when a combination of low prices for oil exports, severe damage from El Nino and government debts placed the country in a dire economic situation. Inflation and unemployment rates spiked [Business News Americas report] while the national currency dipped in value dramatically. During the crisis, the then-president declared a banking holiday, shutting down the banks for one week [NYT report]. Ultimately, in 2000, the Ecuadorean sucre was replaced [WSWS report] with the US dollar. Soon after, Mahuad’s resignation was demanded by protestors, and a coup [BBC report] was declared when he refused to step down.