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.

CrisisWatch Ecuador

Unchanged Situation

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.

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