In June, the US State Department released an updated travel advisory concerning Ecuador, advising American citizens to be vigilant when traveling to the nation due to heightened risks of kidnappings, civil disturbances, and criminal activities. Over the past years, Ecuador, situated in South America, has experienced a growing level of insecurity.
Tragically, three political figures have met their demise in the period following the issuance of the travel advisory. Two of these incidents occurred within a span of less than a week, right before the country’s upcoming elections.
On August 14th, Pedro Briones, a local leader associated with Revolución Ciudadana, was fatally shot at his residence. Witnesses reported observing two individuals on a motorbike fleeing the scene, as per accounts. While the government has not officially verified his demise, Luisa Gonzalez, a prominent candidate in the presidential race, utilized the platform previously known as Twitter, to express her condolences to Briones’ family and acknowledge his passing.
She lamented the prevailing situation, describing the nation’s present period as its most violent in history. Gonzalez criticized the perceived inefficiency of the government, claiming it had forsaken its citizens and allowed criminal organizations to gain control over the country.
Five days prior to Broines’ assassination, on August 9th, another tragic incident occurred. Fernando Villavicencio, a presidential candidate, was fatally shot while participating in a political rally within the country. His life was cut short by an assailant during the event. The perpetrator was subsequently neutralized by the police, and six individuals of Colombian origin were apprehended in subsequent raids. This unfortunate incident marked the second instance of a political figure being murdered in less than a month.
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.— Luisa González (@LuisaGonzalezEc) August 14, 2023
Mi abrazo solidario a la familia del compañero Pedro Briones, caído en manos de la violencia.
¡El cambio es urgente!
Villavicencio, a former investigative journalist, had taken up the cause of opposing corruption and criminal gangs in his political campaign. Despite having previously received threats on his life, he chose not to wear protective gear. His candidacy was tragically terminated, but Christian Zurita, a close associate of Villavicencio, has stepped forward to continue the presidential race on his behalf. Zurita has pledged to persist in the battle against drug-related issues and corruption.
On July 23rd, Agustín Intriago, the mayor of Manta, met a tragic fate at the hands of assassins. Intriago was conducting an inspection of public infrastructure when he was targeted and shot by an individual who emerged from a stolen truck. The assailant took the mayor’s life and regrettably, an unintended bystander, referred to by law enforcement as “collateral,” also lost her life in the incident.
Security personnel responded by engaging the shooter, inflicting injuries on the driver of the stolen vehicle. The driver, identified as a Venezuelan national, was given medical attention before being placed under police custody. The motive behind the mayor’s assassination remained unclear. Authorities indicated that there were no known threats directed towards Intriago before the tragic event.
This tragic occurrence marked the first instance of a series of three political figures losing their lives within the span of a single month.