Juan Aguiñaga, Ecuador’s under secretary for foreign affairs until last week, and two notaries were arrested yesterday afternoon on charges of operating a network to provide Cuban citizens with fraudulent Ecuadorian citizenship documents. According to an investigation carried out by Ecuador’s Transparency Council, at least 120 Cubans were close to obtaining the illegal documents.
Mr. Aguiñaga is accused of failing to verify both the two-year residency requirement and the Cubans’ relationships to the Ecuadorian citizens who sponsored their residency applications. Later investigations found that many Cuban citizens arrived only two months prior to filing for nationalization documents, which has prompted the prosecuting attorney to file charges of falsifying public documents.
According to the National Immigration agency, the arrival of Cubans to Ecuador has sharply increased in recent years. In 2009, the number of arrivals increased 147 percent to 27,114 people.