Ricardo Patiño approached the presidential aircraft more than the President of the Republic himself. According to the records of the Directorate of Civil Aviation (DAC) and the Special Air Transport Group (GTAE), the former foreign minister led 70 trips on those aircraft, between January 2011 and May 2017, the same amount as the then President Rafael Correa.
But, in addition, Patiño was the minister who most accompanied Correa in the international trips he led. According to the executive decrees, the former president made 71 outward trips in that same period. Patiño participated in 61, a high number if we consider that the second minister who most accompanied Correa was René Ramírez, with 23 trips.
Newspaper EL UNIVERSO analyzed the records of the DAC, the GTAE and a list of the visits abroad that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs delivered. He identified 173 trips from Patiño as chancellor. He held that position between February 2010 and January 2016. In total he visited 54 countries.
There were four months in which the former official spent more time abroad than in the country. In October 2011, he spent 24 days on international tours. He made official visits to Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Belarus, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan. Then he went to Washington DC to participate in a hearing on freedom of expression convened by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (CIDH), and ended the month in Peru.
Likewise, he spent 23 days out of the country in June of 2013, 18 days in June of 2014; and 16 days in January 2013, as shown by the official documents consulted.
In an email sent by Patiño for this report, he explained that Correa’s international policy prioritized the diversification of relations with other countries. That is why bridges were laid with South Korea, China, South Africa, Russia, India, as well as countries of Central America, the Caribbean and the Persian Gulf.
Ecuador transported foreign delegations on the presidential plane during the government of Rafael Correa
For that policy, Patiño made an official visit to Iran in May 2012 and witnessed the possession of President Hasan Rohaní in August 2013, when international sanctions against Iran were active due to its nuclear program.
At the first meeting, Patiño reached commercial agreements to reduce tariffs on several Ecuadorian products and receive Iranian oil derivatives.
According to Patiño, these agreements “were boycotted by the sanctions unilaterally and illegally imposed by the United States Government on that country, which finally prevented him from making any kind of commercial, financial or other transaction with other states.”
Those sanctions were suspended in 2015 with the signing of a control plan, but President Donald Trump resumed them this year.
In six years, Rafael Correa gave 17 laps to the world
Regional integration also marked the foreign travel planning of the former foreign minister. One of the main objectives of Patiño was the consolidation of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR). Between April and September 2010, when Ecuador had the Pro Tempore Presidency of that organization, Patiño visited seven member countries to validate its Constitutive Treaty, since ratification was required for this document to enter into force. This happened in March 2011.
His sympathy with Venezuelan socialism was also reflected in his travels. Venezuela was the country most frequented by Patiño, with 32 visits. He points out that there was “mutual cooperation, especially in the period of the government of President Hugo Chávez, the creation and consolidation of Unasur and Celac, as well as the Alba.”
When Ecuador left the Presidency of UNASUR, in November 2010, member countries approved the Additional Protocol to the Constitutive Treaty, which imposes sanctions on countries that violate democratic principles.
Patiño was in charge of announcing that this norm became effective in March 2011. He stressed that the entry into force of the Protocol coincided with “the attempt of some violent groups to overthrow the legitimate Government of President Nicolás Maduro.”
Likewise, the former foreign minister traveled to Peru 20 times, to Colombia 17, to the United States in 13 and to Cuba 11.
The name of Patiño’s wife, Miriam Alcívar, appears as part of the official commission that accompanied him on a visit to Costa Rica on January 14, 2015. It is in the report of that trip presented by a former Foreign Ministry official.
This is available on the website of that Ministry. However, this report is duplicated in the digital file. In the second, the name of Alcívar no longer appears. Newspaper EL UNIVERSO consulted Patiño if his wife accompanied him on official trips. He answered with one word: exceptionally. (I)