International

Ecuador Declares State Of Emergency After Assassination Of Presidential Candidate Fernando Villavicencio

Outgoing President Guillermo Lasso has responded by declaring a nationwide state of emergency for 60 days, mobilizing the armed forces to maintain citizens' safety and ensure the integrity of the upcoming democratic elections.

Fernando Villavicencio
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In a startling development that has sent shockwaves across Ecuador, outgoing President Guillermo Lasso has declared a nationwide state of emergency for a period of 60 days in response to the assassination of prominent anti-corruption advocate and presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio. The tragic incident occurred during a campaign rally in the capital city, Quito, and has raised concerns about escalating violence in the Andean nation.

Fernando Villavicencio, aged 59, was a vocal critic of corruption and organized crime in Ecuador. His fearless stance against these issues had earned him widespread support, but also made him a target. The campaign event on Wednesday, which turned fatal, took place amid a surge in violence attributed to drug traffickers. Local reports suggest that approximately 30 shots were fired during the event, held in the northern part of Quito.

President Lasso, in a statement broadcast on YouTube, announced the mobilization of the armed forces across the country to ensure the safety of citizens, maintain tranquility, and safeguard the integrity of the upcoming democratic elections scheduled for August 20th. He expressed deep concern about the security situation and labeled the assassination a political crime with characteristics of terrorism.

Video footage shared on social media captured the chilling moment when Villavicencio, flanked by his security detail, entered a white truck only to be met with a barrage of gunfire. The stark visuals underscored the gravity of the situation and its potential impact on the nation's political landscape, according to Aljazeera.

President Lasso, showing solidarity, conveyed his condolences to Villavicencio's wife and daughters on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter. Meanwhile, the attorney general's office reported that one suspect linked to the assassination died from injuries sustained during a subsequent shootout. Furthermore, six individuals have been arrested in connection with the crime following raids in Quito.

Patricio Zuquilanda, an advisor to Villavicencio's campaign, condemned the violence and called upon international authorities to address the rising turmoil, attributing it to a surge in drug trafficking and associated criminal activities. He highlighted the profound impact of this tragedy on the nation, referring to Ecuador as "mortally wounded."

Fernando Villavicencio's legacy is marked by his relentless pursuit of justice. A former lawmaker and union member at state oil company Petroecuador, he transitioned to journalism, exposing alleged losses in oil contracts. Despite facing challenges and even imprisonment for his outspoken criticism of former President Rafael Correa, Villavicencio remained undeterred.

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