Meet Roberto and William Isaias. Despite numerous extradition requests from the Ecuadorian government, these fugitives remain settled in Miami – and continue their practice of giving hundreds of thousands of dollars to US Congressmen. This is not your typical article on immigration.
As the New York Times reported: these brothers have held the status of fugitive since 2012 when “the two were sentenced in absentia to eight years in prison in Ecuador in what the government there calls a scheme to run a bank into the ground by making loans to businesses they controlled and then presenting false balance sheets to get bailout funds.”
Ecuador says it lost more than $400 million, and Interpol issued a ‘red notice,’ or international alert, for the men, though some people familiar with the case said the Isaias brothers had been scapegoated and had little chance of a fair trial at home.”
Basically, they are accused of tanking Ecuador’s entire economy for their own benefit.
The US government has received numerous requests to send the brothers back to Ecuador to face trial, some coming directly from Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa. Back in 2005, even the American ambassador to Ecuador went as far as sending a cable to Washington demanding extradition; the brothers allegedly funded a $2 million dollar bribe in an attempt to get charges against them dropped. “[the American ambassador] acknowledged then that the government of Ecuador offered feeble documentation to back up its extradition request, but she attributed that to pressure from the Isaias family, which owned 27 radio stations, three newspapers and a sugar production company.”
After all of this, the Isaias remain in the US. Are Roberto and William guilty? I have no idea. Has their guilt been the deciding factor in our government’s protection of the brothers? I’ll let you decide.
A year after their relatives gave $90,000 to help re-elect Mr. Obama, the administration rejected Ecuador’s extradition request for the men, fueling accusations that such donations were helping to keep the brothers and their families safely on American soil.”
That’s right, Roberto and William’s family have a knack for giving powerful gifts to powerful people. The White House, of course, says that the donations have nothing to do with the rejection. The cash boat doesn’t stop with Obama though; the brothers have spread to love to over 20 Congressmen:
$320,000 to American political campaigns since 2010”
Despite claims that the donations have nothing to do with the brothers’ status, Congressmen who have received big cash from the Isaias family have been major advocates of harboring them on US soil. Senator Robert Menendez received $13,000 for his campaign and $30,000 for the senatorial campaign committee that he led. He has sent “at least five letters to the Department of Homeland Security for the brothers and other relatives with immigration problems.” Representative Joe Garcia and Senator Marco Rubio both got a share of the cash and have made phone calls explicitly on behalf of the brothers.
Among all of the players in this, Ms. Ros-Lehtinen, I believe, takes the cake:
The family gave about $40,000 to Ms. Ros-Lehtinen, whose district members live in. Last month, she acknowledged to The Daily Beast that while she was chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee she sent four letters to top American officials, including Hillary Rodham Clinton, then secretary of state, advocating on behalf of three members of the Isaias family who had problems with their residencies. She called it ‘standard practice’ for constituents.”
You heard that: “standard practice for constituents”. Try getting your State Rep to send a letter to Hilary Clinton for you. Now for those of you who have never attempted, let me tell you, it is almost impossible for an average citizen to even get a meeting with a State Representative. At best, activists often meet with a Congressman’s staff, a senior staffer if they are lucky. I can’t even imagine what goes into getting a Representative to send letters on your behalf to the top officials in the government. Well actually, maybe I can…
At the end of the day, I really have idea whether or not Roberto and William Isaias are innocent or guilty. Maybe they deserve to face charges in Ecuador and maybe they don’t. What is obvious to me, however, is that multiple Congressmen are going to serious lengths to protect the interests of two men who don’t even have green cards. In a political climate where it is incredibly difficult to even speak directly with your Representative, the Isaias brothers practically have a team of politicians pulling strings for them.
One thing is at the center of this controversy: money. The brothers have doled out massive political contributions and in spite of the numerous attempts from Ecuador to put them on trial, they remain in the United States. Are we protecting the brothers because they were unjustly accused or are we protecting wealthy businessmen who fund campaigns? Is this coincidence or is this corruption? What do you think?