Fernando Villavicencio, Ecuador's presidential candidate, shot dead

Meanwhile in Ecuador, presidential candidate shot dead in broad daylight


Fernando Villavicencio, Ecuador's presidential candidate, an outspoken anti-corruption activist, was shot dead Wednesday, August 10, at a political rally in Ecuador's capital, Quito.

Fernando Villavicencio spoke openly about the connection between organised crime and government officials. Nine other people were injured in the shootout, including two policemen and a National Assembly candidate, prosecutors said.

A few days before the assassination, Villavicencio said he had received death threats, including from the leaders of Mexico's powerful Sinaloa Cartel — one of many international organised crime groups that now operate openly in Ecuador.

Fernando Villavicencio, 59, a former journalist, was shot dead outside a high school in Quito as he was approaching his car after talking to young supporters. He was one of eight candidates for the presidency of Ecuador and ran for Build Ecuador movement.

Ecuador's Attorney General's Office said that a suspect in the assassination of the politician died from injuries after a shootout with police officers.

Villavicencio won elections to the National Assembly in 2017 where he served until President Guillermo Lasso dissolved the country's legislative body.

Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso condemned the assassination of Fernando Villavicencio and suggested organised crime was behind the attack.

The authorities of Ecuador described the incident as a terrorist act and promised to look into the causes of the murder. Edison Romo, a former Ecuadorian military intelligence colonel, said that Villavicencio's work posed "a threat to international criminal organisations."

Ecuador's first-ever assassination of a presidential candidate comes less than a month after the mayor of the port city of Manta was gunned down during a public speech, The New York Times reports.

Ecuador, once a relatively safe country, has been engulfed in drug-trafficking violence for the past five years. A small state has become haven for fugitive criminals, and the level of crime in the country skyrocketed dramatically.

Ecuador saw dramatic transformations between 2005 and 2015, as millions of people were lifted out of poverty owing to the policies of President Rafael Correa. Oil revenues were directed to education, health care and other social programs. However, the state of affairs in Ecuador subsequently changed for the worse after foreign drug mafias teamed up with local prison and street gangs. The murder rate has reached an all-time high in the country. Prison riots occur on a regular basis too.

Violence in Ecuador is often horrifying and public in nature to instil fear in people and thus control the society. Reports about car bombings, beheadings and shootings of children near their schools have become more than just frequent.

President Lasso dissolved the country's opposition-led National Assembly in May. He made the decision as he faced impeachment proceedings on charges of embezzlement. Lasso's decision automatically triggered new presidential and legislative elections. The presidential election in Ecuador, in which Villavicencio was supposed to participate, is scheduled for August 20.

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Author`s name Andrey Mihayloff
Editor Dmitry Sudakov