Photo: Fuerzas Armadas de Ecuador
By picking a fight with the fragile state of Ecuador, criminal organizations linked to the drug trade are creating a security crisis that threatens the country's democracy, he says Crusoe.
“Given the size of the state of Rio Grande do Sul, Ecuador already had a habit of making headlines when something went wrong. The country has been one of the worst hit by the Covid pandemic, it has no money to pay off its debts to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), it has been the scene of political protests and it saw a president removed in an impeachment trial last year . But none of this has threatened Ecuador's democracy as much as the security crisis that gripped the country this week after criminal organizations linked to the drug trade took the entire country hostage.”
“The chaos began when José Adolfo Macías, known as Fito, leader of the Los Choneros faction, escaped from prison on the night of Sunday, January 7th. As unrest spread to several prisons and criminals took to the streets, President Daniel Noboa, who holds a buffer mandate, declared a state of emergency with a curfew from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. The situation worsened and reached the point on Tuesday 9th that 13 hooded men invaded the studio of a public television station in Guayaquil during a live broadcast. Noboa then declared a state of “internal armed conflict” and authorized the armed forces to enter into direct combat with 22 criminal organizations. As of Thursday 11th, the violence had resulted in 15 deaths and 40 kidnappings, including that of a Brazilian man who was released on Wednesday 10th. Around 330 suspects were arrested. Nearly two hundred prison officers were taken hostage.”
“Brazilian Julio Almada, who has lived in Ecuador for 10 years, told Crusoé that acquaintances in Quito, where he lives, had observed robberies in supermarkets and buses. “This was not common in Ecuador and it all happened on Tuesday the 9th. People were very scared,” Almada said. For the Brazilian, the invasion of the television studio in Guayaquil had a nationwide impact: “It was broadcast live on television. The whole country saw it, which immediately caused turmoil and chaos.”
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