Diplomatic Briefing

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Consular affairs: Ecuador consulate remains open amid tension

It all began with WikiLeaks — last week, a Spanish newspaper published a secret WikiLeaks cable that revealed the American ambassador to the South American nation, Heather Hodges, making disparaging remarks about the government. Sparks flew, and within days both the nations’ ambassadors had been declared “persona non grata” and were ordered to leave. American officials even hinted at closing certain Ecuadorian consulates. But in the South American nation’s outpost in New Haven, it’s business as usual. The sense of crisis is distant in the Ecuadorian consulate on Church Street, which, despite the tensions between the two nations, faces no risk of closure or cuts at the present, consul Raul Erazo Velarde said. And while the upper levels of government work through these tensions, New Haven’s consulate will continue with its programming in support of New England’s Ecuadorians — including an event this Thursday at the consulate, during which Yale Law School students from the Worker and Immigrant Rights Advocacy Clinic will outline the rights of immigrant workers in Connecticut. The New Haven consulate is one of Ecuador’s 19 consular missions nationwide; it serves Ecuadorians in Rhode Island and New Hampshire as well as Connecticut. In addition to the New Haven consulate, Ecuador operates consulates in New York City, Boston and New Jersey. The U.S. census counts 21,000 Ecuadorians living in Connecticut, and consular officials have estimated that at least as many illegal immigrants live in the state, bringing the total population to nearly 50,000. When it opened in 2008, the consulate became the first to open in New Haven since an Italian one opened its doors in 1910.




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