The pressure was stronger. In less than a week, María Alejandra Vicuña became vice president of the Republic, and close to President Lenin Moreno, a personun comfortable for the Government.
That discomfort motivated her resignation, yesterday, through a video and a letter sent to the media. As usual during her last days in office, Vicuña evaded questions from the press and preferred to communicate her decisions without being questioned.
In the text of her resignation, the now ex-vice president said that the accusations against her, due to undue charges to her staff when she was a PAIS assembly woman, are slanders that were aimed at overthrowing her position. In fact, she said, everything is a lie that sought his way out. She says that there is going to be peace and not give rise to rumors of all kinds.
The former functionary did not clarify whether these pressures came from within Lenin Moreno’s government. Days ago, in the only radio interview he gave after the scandal, he left in the air the possibility that his detractors are part ofthe Carondelet team.
What she did make clear in the video of her resignation, is that Lenin Moreno is another victim of the circumstances. She said that his resignation seeks to avoid further damage to the central government.
A day earlier, the president released her from office and relegated her to the cabinet. The National Secretariat of Communication (Secom), minutes after the presidential announcement, stressed that Vicuña presented a request for leave without compensation to the wrong body. Through a communiqué, the entity headedby Andrés Michelena emphasized the error that the former vice president made when presenting her request for leave to the Executive and not to the Legislative.
The little government support was also felt yesterday. Juan Sebastián Roldán,private secretary of the Presidency, explained that now a triple will be built to name the replacement of the official. He assured that the subject was not discussed before.
He also stressed that María Alejandra Vicuña must propose her resignation before the National Assembly and not before the Executive. The legislative body mu stresolve the state before discussing the short list sent by President Moreno.
Among the corridors of Carondelet, in spite of Roldán’s assertion, names are already sounding, especially of ministers to replace the assembly members of the era of Rafael Correa.
At the moment, the only firm name, to assume the orders that Vicuña had, is that of José Augusto Briones. Moreno handed over to the private secretary of the Presidency the four assignments that the Vice Presidency of the Republic had.
The scenario, although unexpected, is not new for Lenin Moreno’s government. A little over a year ago he faced the same situation with the now sentenced Jorge Glas. Moreno, following the same script, withdrew the trust and functions to the former vice president. Soon after, Glas left office and was sentenced to six years in prison for illicit association.
In the case of Vicuña, the scandals were not associated with major acts of corruption with transnational companies for the assignment of works. Nor was linked to millionaire bribes or surcharges. María Alejandra Vicuña leaves office for alleged fees of up to 1,400 dollars to her advisors in the National Assembly,during 2011 and 2014.
EXPRESO consulted with political leaders and assembly members on the future of the PAIS militant. They agree that renunciation is not the end of the road. Vicuña will have to answer to the Prosecutor’s Office, which has already started an investigation, for the ‘tithes’. An accusation that also cost her the position of Assembly member to his co-owner, Norma Vallejo.
Another triple will reach the Legislative
Although the Government assures that there is no list of names ready to replace María Alejandra Vicuña, there is a hurry. President Lenin Moreno plans to send the shortlist with three candidates until next week. Specifically, the president does not want to travel to China without first delivering the shortlist to the National Assembly.
In the Assembly, on the other hand, it is not ruled out to continue with me asuresagainst the now ex-servant of the Government of Moreno. Héctor Yépez, Assemblyman of CREO for Guayas, assures that the resignation was positive because it avoids the “shame” that another high level official must submit to a political trial.
Originally, Vicuña submitted a license request without remuneration until next year. The National Assembly planned to deal with that request today in a plenary session.Now, however, you must prepare to vote for a replacement.
Andrés Páez, former assembly member
Vicuña resigns and leaves without pain or glory. Of course, we will continue with the criminal complaint and the impeachment can also continue.
Paola Vintimilla, assembly member PSC
It is great news for the country. Her situation was untenable. Justice must act quickly and independently in this case.
Wilma Andrade, Assembly member ID
It should be given to avoid deepening the crisis that the country is experiencing.The lack of institutionality is regrettable. The replacement must go through athorough analysis.
Bairon Valle, correísta assemblyman
When resigning the position remains at the disposal of the justice. The judge, at the request of the prosecutor, must request the Assembly to lift the immunity.
Rafael Correa, former president of the Republic
I’m old enough to believe in those things. It is clear that she agreed to resign from the position to be released, because she knows she is guilty.
Ana Galarza, assembly member of CREO
I hink it is appropriate for the woman to step aside to defend herself completely independently of the accusations.
Guillermo lasso, leader of CREO
Mr.Moreno does not know how to choose even his vice president. […] Choose Mrs.Vicuña for whom the CREO movement voted against her appointment, and now look. (I)