CrisisWatch Ecuador

Deteriorated Situation

Bomb exploded in port city of Guayaquil, killing five and prompting authorities to impose state of emergency; negotiations between govt and Indigenous organisations stalled. Improvised explosive device 14 Aug detonated in Guayaquil, country’s second largest city and major trade hub, killing five and injuring at least 17. Attack, which authorities blamed on “criminal groups”, marked dramatic escalation of violence in city that has seen rising gang-related crime in recent months as groups fight for control over drug-trafficking routes. In response to explosion, President Lasso 14 Aug declared state of emergency in Guayaquil, sixth such emergency imposed to curb violence since he took office in May 2021. Interior Minister Patricio Carrillo same day called blast “a declaration of war against the state” by criminal gangs, while city’s mayor, Cynthia Viteri, wrote open letter to Lasso saying “criminal groups have become a government within a government in Ecuador”. Situation in Guayaquil epitomizes rising violence nationwide. Authorities as of 17 Aug recorded 2,593 homicides throughout Ecuador in 2022 compared to 2,471 in whole of 2021; media outlet Expreso 15 Aug reported that, on average, one person is murdered every two hours in Ecuador. Authorities 16 Aug said govt is developing referendum text with ten questions for public deliberation, focused predominantly on ways to address country’s security issues. Meanwhile, negotiations between govt and indigenous groups following violent anti-govt protests in June stalled. Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador, which spearheaded protests, 2 Aug presented proposal demanding govt set price controls on 44 essential goods, but little progress was made. Indigenous leaders 13 Aug said govt was not negotiating in good faith and lacked political will to advance negotiations.

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