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25 May, 2024
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Ecuadorian opposition leader assassinated days before elections

Fernando Villavicencio, an ex-journalist, was a vocal critic of corruption and was running for President of Ecuador in the August 20th elections


Ecuadorian presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio has been assassinated just days ahead of a significant election that hinges on the escalating issues of violence and crime within the country. Villavicencio, an ex-journalist known for his collaboration with The Guardian and his vocal stance on the alleged connections between organized crime and politics, was leaving a campaign event in Quito when the attack occurred.

Videos shared on social media capture the chaotic scene, depicting Villavicencio surrounded by supporters and security personnel as gunshots ring out, prompting screams and people taking cover. The incident underscores the prevailing dangers tied to the surge of criminal gangs in Ecuador, a situation accentuated by drug trafficking and a doubling of murder rates between 2020 and 2022.

Ecuador's President, Guillermo Lasso, in a televised address following the attack, declared a two-month state of emergency and announced that the elections would proceed as scheduled, with heightened security measures at polling stations. Lasso emphasized the importance of maintaining democratic processes in the face of such adversity.

Despite the tragedy, the election's pivotal role in addressing the nation's insecurity crisis persists. Villavicencio was one of eight candidates competing in the upcoming early elections, scheduled for August 20. Over half of Ecuadorians surveyed expressed the urgent need to address the country's security problem.

Villavicencio's murder has led to a wave of mourning and condemnation from fellow candidates, citizens, and international observers. The late candidate had received death threats and had been a vocal critic of corruption, notably during the tenure of former president Rafael Correa. His death adds to the tumultuous landscape of Ecuador's political and security challenges, highlighting the deep-rooted issues the country faces.

[The Guardian]

Cyprus  |  Ecuador  |  corruption

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