The assassination of an Ecuadorian presidential contender during a campaign event

The assassination of an Ecuadorian presidential contender during a campaign event

 

A presidential contender in Ecuador who was renowned for speaking out against drug cartels and corruption was shot and died at a political gathering in the country’s capital on Wednesday amid a surprising surge of gang-driven violence in the South American nation.

 

Less than two weeks before the presidential election on August 20, President Guillermo Lasso acknowledged the killing of Fernando Villavicencio and alleged that organized crime was behind his slaying.

 

Lasso made the following remark in response to the allegations: “I tell you that this crime will not go unpunished.” “Organized crime has crossed a line, and as a result, they are going to experience the full weight of the law.”

 

According to the office of Ecuador’s attorney general, one suspect passed away while in police custody as a result of wounds received in a battle that occurred after the murder, and police captured six suspects as a result of searches throughout Quito.

 

In his last address, before he was slain, Villavicencio promised a screaming throng that he would root out corruption and lock up the country’s “thieves.” This was Villavicencio’s last speech before he was killed.

Before the shooting, Villavicencio said that he had received many death threats, some of which had come from associates of Mexico’s Sinaloa Cartel. The Sinaloa Cartel is only one of a number of foreign organized criminal gangs that are now active in Ecuador. He said that his campaign posed a danger to the organizations in question.

 

“Now I’m going to show you my face. “I have nothing to fear from them,” Villavicencio stated in a statement, referring to the apprehended criminal leader José Adolfo Macas by his pseudonym “Fito.”

 

Villavicencio was one of eight people running for the position. However, he was not in the lead. The lawmaker, who is 59 years old, was running for office with the Build Ecuador Movement.

 

Ida Paez, a supporter of Villavicencio’s, said that the candidate’s campaign had given her faith that the nation might triumph against the gangs. She said this at the rally by saying, “We were pleased. He even broke out into dancing. His last words were, “If someone messes with the people, then he is messing with my family.”

 

Ecuadoreans are reeling from a level of violence that hasn’t been witnessed in their nation in decades as a result of drug traffickers using the country’s coastal ports. The sounds of gunshots ring out in many large cities as rival gangs fight for power, and groups have recruited minors to join their ranks. A murderous shooting took place in the coastal city of Manta only one month ago. The victim was the area’s mayor. In an attempt to put an end to the violence, on July 26, Lasso issued a declaration of a state of emergency that included two provinces as well as the country’s jail system.

 

Otto Sonnenholzner, a former candidate for vice president and president, stated in a press conference that immediately after the assassination on Wednesday, “We are dying, drowning in a sea of sorrow, and we do not deserve to live like this.” We are requiring that you take some action.

Videos of the rally that have been shared on social media seem to show Villavicencio leaving the gathering while being escorted by security personnel. After that, the video shows the candidate getting into a white pickup vehicle just before the sound of gunshots, which is then followed by shouts and commotion surrounding the truck. Patricio Zuquilanda, who serves as an advisor for Villavicencio’s election campaign, has verified this chain of occurrences to The Associated Press.

 

According to Zuquilanda, the candidate had been the recipient of at least three death threats before the shooting, all of which he had reported to the police, which resulted in one imprisonment. He attributed the bloodshed to escalating levels of violence as well as increased drug trafficking, and he called on international authorities to take action against it.

 

He said that the Ecuadorian people were in tears and that Ecuador had suffered fatal wounds. It is impossible for politics to be the cause of anyone’s death in society.

 

Villavicencio was one of the most outspoken critics of corruption in the nation, particularly during the presidency of Rafael Correa (2007-2017) while the country was under his administration.

 

In addition to his work as an independent journalist, he conducted investigations into allegations of government corruption and eventually entered politics as an anti-corruption activist.

 

Villavicencio presented a number of legal accusations directed against high-ranking officials of the Correa cabinet, including the former president himself. Because of his critiques of Correa, he was found guilty of defamation and sentenced to 18 months in jail. He then escaped to indigenous territory in Ecuador and subsequently received refuge in the adjacent country of Peru.

 

According to reports from the local media, Ecuadorian presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio was killed by gunfire on Wednesday evening in Quito after conducting a rally in the city.

Edison Romo, a retired colonel in military intelligence, said that Villavicencio became “a menace to international criminal groups” as a result of the anti-corruption allegations.

 

Lasso, a conservative who had previously worked in banking, was elected in 2021 on a platform that was sympathetic to business, which put him at odds with the left-leaning majority coalition in the National Assembly from the very beginning.

 

In May, Lasso dissolved the National Assembly by decree in an effort to escape being impeached on charges that he failed to intervene to halt a flawed contract between the state-owned oil transport firm and a private tanker company. As a move to avoid being impeached, Lasso called for early elections after dissolving the National Assembly.

 

There is a clause in the constitution of Ecuador that authorizes the president to dissolve the assembly in the event of a political crisis; nevertheless, this action results in the need for fresh elections for the presidency and the assembly.

 

In recent years, the nation has been subject to a continuous chain of political shakeups.

At least nine other people were injured in the shooting on Wednesday, including law enforcement personnel and a candidate for congressional office, in what police are calling a “terrorist act.”

 

 

After the murder, several candidates voiced their outrage and called for action. Presidential front-runner Luisa González of the Citizen Revolution party said that “when they touch one of us, they affect all of us.”

 

Villavicencio was married, and he left behind five children as a legacy.

 

 

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