On Tuesday, April 11, there was a massacre in Ecuador. Nine people were killed and four others were injured. in the Artisanal Fishing Port of the city of Esmeraldas, in the province of the same name, located in the northwest of the South American country.
As reported by the Minister of the Interior, Juan Zapata, 30 heavily armed people, both by sea and land, arrived and attacked fishermen and residents who were in the place.
At the time of the event, there were between 1,500 and 2,000 people in the port, but there were no more victims since uniformed officers who were patrolling the sector managed to repel the attack.
“We have collected more than 200 ballistic evidence, 9 mm and 223 mm, this means that they used short and long weapons,” said the minister, who attributed this crime to clashes between gangs and fights for control of the territory.
The president of Ecuador, Guillermo Lasso, spoke about this fact: “We are going to capture them! Police and military are deployed throughout Esmeraldas looking for those responsible for this crime. My solidarity with the families of the victims. For them, not we will rest until we stop them”, wrote on his Twitter account.
The same Tuesday there was a bomb threat in the city of Guayaquil, in the province of Guayas, some 450 kilometers from Esmeraldas. Police reported finding an envelope containing pamphlets from a criminal organization and two explosive charges, and that it was left on the outskirts of a commercial premises, located at the intersection of Medardo Angel Silva and Lizardo Garcia streets in the city. The situation was controlled by the uniformed officers.
According to the Police, quoted by El Telegrafo, apparently the objective was spread a threatening message in the sector, taking into account what was written in the pamphlet.
Also on the same Tuesday, but in the early hours of the morning, 44 firearms were stolen of the flea market —a place dedicated to the care of these objects— of the National Police in the Naranjito canton, in Guayas, reported the State Attorney General’s Office (FGE). For this fact a police officer is in custody.
streets and jails
What happened on Tuesday has become recurrent in Ecuador in recent months. Assaults, robberies, kidnappings, vaccinations (extortive collection of money in exchange for guaranteeing security), homicides, among other crimes are daily news.
But the methods have been escalating in the level of violence. For example, on March 30 an explosive device was strapped to a security guard who was guarding a jewelry store in Guayaquil and it took security forces more than two hours to free him.
Subsequently, on Thursday, April 6, there was a threat with a car bomb in the vicinity of a gas station located on Mariscal Sucre avenue, in front of the Quitumbe interprovincial bus terminal, south of Quito. Police reported that he had deactivated 20 high-powered explosive blocks that were next to a gas cylinder inside the vehicle.
Already in November of last year there was a series of attacks with explosives in various Ecuadorian cities, mainly at gas stations and in Community Police Units (UPC). In 2022, beheaded corpses were also found in different parts of the country.
Violence is also evident in prisons, where many of the members of criminal gangs are detained who, consequently, act inside and outside prisons. Last week, were murdered Three inmates at La Roca maximum security prisonlocated in Guayaquil, which housed barely twenty prisoners.
As reported by the National Comprehensive Care Service for Adults Deprived of Liberty and Adolescent Offenders (SNAI), the events occurred due to a shooting resulting from clashes between members of the ‘R7’ and ‘Los Lobos’ gangs.
On Wednesday, for his part, were found six inmates killed in the Litoral Penitentiary, also in Guayaquil. The bodies were hanging in their cells, in pavilion 5 of the prison, which would be controlled by the Las Aguilas gang.
Since February 2021, according to figures provided by the SNAI and the FGE, they have been murdered at least 429 people in different massacres perpetrated in the prisons of the South American country.
Regarding intentional homicides or violent deaths in the country, the Ministry of the Interior has not updated the figure on its website since August 2022.
The Ecuadorian newspaper Primicias, citing the authorities of the South American country, pointed out that between January 1 and March 20, 2023 1,356 violent deaths were recorded in the countryan increase of 66.4% compared to the same period in 2022, when 815 were registered.
Already 2022 had been the most violent year for the South American country, with 4,603 homicides. That meant a daily average of 10.4 cases and a rate of 25 murders per 100,000 inhabitants.
Last Monday, Zapata stated that behind the violent deaths in the country there is a confrontation between gangs over territory, illegal economies, micro-drug traffickingBetween other reasons.
However, he also recognized that there are collateral fatalities, since the criminals “lost the codes, death is no longer selective and they shoot at close range and there are some innocent people who have died.”
Carrying of weapons and other measures
On April 1, President Lasso announced new “urgent measures” to deal with the insecurity that has been increasing in the South American country, a scourge that the government links to organized crime, particularly drug trafficking.
The mandatary declared a new “state of exception” —a measure that it has used since 2021— due to “serious internal commotion” in the provinces of Santa Elena and Los Rios, as well as in the cantons of Guayaquil, Duran and Samborondon de Guayas, which was established by Executive Decree 706.
On Monday, Zapata commented that this state of exception has four objectives: to reduce intentional homicides; dismantle gangs dedicated to extortion, geolocate criminal violence and capture high and medium value targets.
The minister made a comparison of the nine days before and after the declaration of that state of emergency, and pointed out that violent deaths decreased in the intervened areas.
“In Santa Elena, from seven violent deaths they were reduced to three, that is, there was a decrease of 57%; in Los Rios they went from 28 deaths to six, the decrease was 79%, and in Guayaquil from 71 deaths they went to 58 , here the reduction was 18.3%,” he explained.
He also stressed that since the state of emergency began to apply until last Monday, 444 people were arrested, and 79 firearms and 41 bladed weapons were seized.
In addition to the state of exception, Lasso issued Executive Decree 707, through which the possession and carrying of weapons for civilian use is authorized for personal defense at the national level, which generated controversy in the country.
Several houses of higher education spoke out in rejection of this measure, such as the University of Cuenca, the Salesian Polytechnic University, the Pontifical Catholic University of Ecuador, the National University of Education, the University of the Arts, among others.
The National Federation of Private Security Workers of Ecuador (Fenaspe) also express contrary to what was decreed by the Executive. “These repeated and erratic decisions of the national government only confirm its inability to generate public policy that allows solving the real origin of the conflict, which is inequity, inequality and the lack of opportunities”the organization noted.
Even last week, a virtual meeting was held between representatives of the Human Rights office of the United Nations Organization (UN) and academics from Ecuador, in which they addressed the issue of the decree on carrying and possession of firearms. .
In that meeting, according to a press release from that office, the regional representative of UN Human Rights in South America, Jan Jarab, shared the concerns raised by the academy about the consequences of the Ecuadorian president’s decision.
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