(UnitedVoice.com) – In June, the US State Department issued an updated travel warning for Ecuador. The government warned Americans to exercise caution while visiting the country because of the increased danger of kidnappings, civil unrest, and crime. In recent years, the South American nation has become increasingly more dangerous.
Three politicians have lost their lives in the months since the US issued the travel advisory. Two of them died in less than a week, and just days before the country holds its elections.
On August 14, a local leader of Revolución Ciudadana, Pedro Briones, was shot and killed in his home. According to reports, neighbors reported seeing two gunmen fleeing the scene on a motorbike. The government didn’t confirm his killing.
However, one of the main presidential candidates, Luisa Gonzalez, posted a message on X, the platform formerly called Twitter, acknowledging his death and sending her condolences to Broines’ family. She said they were living in the “bloodiest time” in the country’s history, saying the “inept government” has abandoned its people and the nation has been “taken over by mafias.”
Ecuador vive su época más sangrienta. Esto se lo debemos al abandono total de un gobierno inepto y a un Estado tomado por las mafias.
Mi abrazo solidario a la familia del compañero Pedro Briones, caído en manos de la violencia.
¡El cambio es urgente!
— Luisa González (@LuisaGonzalezEc) August 14, 2023
Presidential Candidate Killed
On August 9, five days before gunmen killed Broines, presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio was also gunned down. He was at a political rally in the country when someone shot him to death. Police later killed the assassin, and six others were arrested in raids. The six suspects were all from Colombia.
Villavicencio was a former investigative journalist who was running on an anti-corruption and anti-gang platform. He’d received death threats in the past but refused to wear a lead vest to protect himself. He was the second political figure murdered in less than a month.
Christian Zurita, a friend of Villavicencio, is now running for president in his place. He vowed to continue the fight against drugs and corruption.
On July 23, Agustín Intriago, the mayor of Manta, was executed by assassins. The mayor was inspecting public works when someone gunned him down. The killer was in a stolen truck, got out of it, and shot the mayor. A woman who police called “collateral” was also killed.
Security officials returned fire and wounded the driver of the stolen truck. He was a Venezuelan national and received medical care before being taken into police custody. Law enforcement didn’t know why the mayor was murdered. They said he did not receive any threats that they knew of before being killed.
Intriago was the first of the three politicians to lose their lives in a month.
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