IMAGE: Protester in Quito
Pilar Olivares  /  Reuters
A police officer escorts an anti-Gutierrez protester off the street in front of the Brazilian Embassy in Quito, Ecuador, on Saturday. The ousted president had taken refuge in the building before departing for Brazil.
updated 4/24/2005 12:58:51 PM ET 2005-04-24T16:58:51

Ousted Ecuadorean President Lucio Gutierrez arrived in Brazil for asylum on Sunday, ending a drama that started last week when he was forced from office following intense street protests over his alleged abuse of power.

Gutierrez and his family arrived aboard a Brazilian air force plane in Brasilia, the nation's capital, nearly seven hours after being whisked out of the Brazilian ambassador's residence in Quito, a Brazilian military spokesman told The Associated Press.

Gutierrez, his wife, and one of his two daughters were immediately flown out of the airport by helicopter and were headed to a military hotel in Brasilia, Lt. Col. Valdomiro Fagundes said.

In the coming days, they will be taken to a residence in the capital owned by the Brazilian military, Fagundes said.

Political crisis
Ecuador’s new government had said Friday that it would let Gutierrez go to Brazil, where he has been granted political asylum, but the Brazilian government said it would only fly Gutierrez out after his safe passage from the ambassador’s residence to the airport was guaranteed.

IMAGE: Ousted Ecuadorean President Gutierrez
Guillermo Granja  /  Reuters file
Ousted Ecuadorean President Lucio Gutierrez has been granted asylum in Brazil.
Ecuador had been dragging its feet on granting that permission, apparently fearing the reaction of Ecuadoreans outraged that Gutierrez will not be tried for alleged abuse of power, corruption and repression of peaceful protests.

The political crisis was the latest of many in the South American country of 12.5 million people. Since 1997, three presidents have been driven from office in Ecuador before completing their terms.

Gutierrez, a 48-year-old cashiered army colonel elected in 2002, has said the congressional vote that removed him from office violated the constitution.

The Organization of American States has decided to send a high-level diplomatic delegation to investigate that claim.

In a resolution Friday, the OAS avoided explicit recognition of the government of President Alfredo Palacio, who was sworn in by Congress Wednesday after it removed Gutierrez. It was not known when the OAS delegation would arrive. So far no country has recognized the new government as legitimate.

Congress justified dismissing Gutierrez under a constitutional clause allowing lawmakers to remove a president for “abandonment of the post,” even though he was still in the Government Palace issuing orders. Backers of the measure argued since Gutierrez had not faithfully carried out his responsibilities, Congress should declare the presidency vacant.

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