Six Colombians Arrested In Ecuador Assassination Probe, Seventh Suspect Died In Shootout With Police.

Photo credit: Ecuador Police on Twitter. Police in Ecuador have arrested six Colombians and another Colombian was shot dead at the scene.
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The six people who have been so far been arrested in connection with the shooting of Ecuadorian presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio are Colombians, according to police in Quito.

A seventh suspect, who died from wounds in a shootout with police on Thursday, was also Colombian.

Mr Villavicencio was killed leaving a campaign event in the capital Quito.

The interior minister said a police investigation into the “abominable event” was under way.

Interior Minister Juan Zapata said officers would work to “discover the motive of this crime and its intellectual authors”.

The six detainees have been identified as Andres M, Jose N, Eddy G, Camilo R, Jules C, and Jhon Rodriguez, Mr Zapata told a press conference on Thursday.

He added that during the police raid that resulted in their arrest, officers found a rifle, a submachine gun, four pistols, three grenades, four boxes of ammunition, two motorbikes, and a vehicle that had been reported stolen in the group’s possession.

A vocal critic of organized crime, Mr Villavicencio was one of the few presidential candidates to allege links between corruption and government officials.

President Guillermo Lasso said the assassination was an attempt to sabotage the election.

He added that voting would go ahead as planned on 20 August, despite a national state of emergency.

“Here, we pay for democracy with our lives.”

That’s what Fernando Villavicencio shouted into a microphone at a campaign rally just moments before he died in a hail of bullets.

Just a few years ago words like these would have been dismissed as an exaggeration, a rhetorical flourish.

But on Wednesday, they proved all too prophetic. Villavicencio, a candidate in the upcoming presidential election, was gunned down as he left the rally in the capital, Quito.

His assassination is not an isolated incident.

A mayor shot as he was inspecting public works, bodies strung from bridges, gang leaders publishing videos in which they threaten to kill politicians unless they do their bidding – a seemingly endless litany of violence has dominated the headlines in this country previously known for its safety.


In 2018, the murder rate stood at 5.8 per 100,000 inhabitants. A majority of its population told a Gallup poll they felt safe walking alone at night.

By 2022, Ecuador’s homicide rate had more than quadrupled and Ecuadoreans’ perception of safety had plummeted, along with their confidence in police to keep them secure.

It is safe to assume that, were a poll to be conducted now, the percentage of those who feel safe would be even lower.

How did Ecuador, a country which until so recently was considered a safe oasis for tourists and locals alike, become a nation where democratically elected politicians are gunned down?

The answer is gangs and geography.

Ecuador is sandwiched between Colombia and Peru, the two largest producers of cocaine in the world and cocaine producers in these two countries use the large Ecuadorian port of Guayaquil to ship their merchandise to Europe and all over the world. Anyone who tries to stand in their way is risking their life.

At least that is the narrative most frequently told in Ecuador in an attempt to explain the rash of murders and assassinations of public figures.

Sources: BBC, Cuenca High Life, El Commercio, El Universo.
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