Ecuadorian President decrees state of emergency amid security crisis

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Ecuadorian President Daniel Noboa has decreed a state of emergency, imposing a curfew for 60 days throughout the country, including in prisons, due to the “serious internal commotion” in several prisons. The President said the measure is based on the “factual situation” of violence and criminality which is affecting the country, including the prison system, where serious disruptions of the order are occurring, reports Xinhua news agency.

The decree came a day after reports emerged on Sunday of the alleged escape of Jose Adolfo Macias Villamar, alias “Fito”, the country’s main drug trafficker and leader of the organised crime group “Los Choneros”, from the Penitenciaria del Litoral in Guayaquil, capital of Guayas province. Noboa, who assumed power on November 23, 2023, said that he had given clear instructions to military and police commanders to regain control of prisons, which had been “lost in recent years.”

“Narcoterrorist groups seek to intimidate us and believe that we will yield to their demands,” he said, pledging that “we will not negotiate with terrorists, nor will we rest until we restore peace to all Ecuadorians”. The security crisis in the country is evidence that things must change and that existing laws are not sufficient for Ecuadorians to live in peace, the President added. Over the last few years, Ecuador has seen a spike in violent crime.

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Ecuador, a country of approximately 17.5 million people, recorded nearly 3,568 violent deaths from the beginning of 2023 until July, which was an increase of 75 percent over the same period the year prior. The South American nation also shattered records for homicides in 2022, cataloguing a total of 4,603 violent deaths. According to statistics released by the national police, that amounted to nearly 12.6 murders per day.

Presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio was also assassinated just ahead of the August 20, 2023 general election, which led to then President Guillermo Lasso to declare a national state of emergency on August 10 for 60 days.