With its lengthy coastline and proximity to coca-producing areas, Ecuador is the latest Latin American country to become a hub of drug trafficking plagued by rising violent crime. Murder rates have climbed over the last half-decade, and the country has recorded more homicides in 2022 than in any previous year. Successive presidents have tried to curb the trend, some with aggressive policing and others with a mix of security and socio-economic reform policies aimed at dimming the allure of illicit livelihoods. Through advocacy and periodic reporting, Crisis Group works to promote the latter approach to crime prevention, which has a better record of reducing violence throughout the region.
On 8 and 9 August, the presidents of eight countries will meet in Brazil to discuss means of countering the threats facing the Amazon rainforest. In this Q&A, Crisis Group expert Bram Ebus explains that inter-governmental cooperation and a regional security strategy will be essential.
Centre-right businessman Daniel Noboa defeated left-leaning rival in presidential election mired by escalating criminal violence.
Ecuadorians elected new president in run-off overshadowed by security crisis. Centre-right businessman and son of former presidential candidate Daniel Noboa 15 Oct won presidential election, defeating left-leaning rival Luisa González with around 52% of vote. Noboa has promised to “restore peace” by strengthening police force, deploying military to safeguard key infrastructure, beefing up community-based prevention and addressing socioeconomic drivers of violence.
Insecurity persisted at high levels. Violence against public officials continued ahead of election. Notably, armed assailants 5 Oct murdered prosecutor Genaro Oswaldo Reascos Bolaños in Jujan canton (Guayas province); unknown assailants 24 Oct shot and killed councillor from Citizen’s Revolution Movement party in Yaguachi canton, Guayas province; and unidentified assailants 28 Oct attacked former mayor of Duran city, killing his bodyguard. Meanwhile, authorities 6 Oct found six suspects in murder of presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio dead in their prison cells in Litoral Penitentiary, Guayaquil city; police next day found seventh suspect dead in prison near Quito. President Lasso 7 Oct announced investigation into officer in charge of Litoral prison and removed several top security officials. Lasso 8 Oct extended state of emergency by one month.
Can an Election Salvage Latin America's Most Violent Country?
Ecuador’s proximity to major cocaine producers, dollarised economy and corruptible state institutions, as well as COVID-19’s devastating impact, have turned the country into Latin America’s latest hotbed of drug trafficking and other violent crime.
Ecuador has been Latin America’s most unstable democracy for a decade. Starting with the ousting of President Abdalá Bucaram by Congress and street protests in 1997, weak, temporary governments have been the rule.
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