1709221764 Military abuses the hidden face of the state of emergency

Military abuses, the hidden face of the state of emergency in Ecuador

“They shot me and killed Javier,” said Eduardo Velasco, recovering from the soldiers’ bullet wound. The incident occurred at a military checkpoint in Ecuador, where reports of abuses during the state of emergency against gangs are increasing.

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On February 2, Eduardo Velasco, 34, drove with his cousin Javier Vega, 19, to sell a pet in the port city of Guayaquil (southwest), one of the most violent in the country.

According to court documents, Mr. Velasco crushed a soldier's foot despite traffic restrictions. He claims he hit a patrol car while reversing. “At that moment I heard an explosion, my cousin grabbed me (…) I saw his color change, he turned pale,” said Mr. Velasco, who was charged with the alleged misdemeanor of assault and refusing to comply with the request afford, was admitted to the residence.

Military abuses, the hidden face of the state of emergency in Ecuador


“They took him out, put him on the ground, beat him and kicked him in the head,” he remembers. Mr. Velasco was struck by a bullet in the shoulder and said he was also lying on the ground and trampled by men in uniform.

Javier Vega, who had no criminal record, died a day later as a result of four shots that pierced his lung and stomach and injured his spine.

Military abuses, the hidden face of the state of emergency in Ecuador


The Human Rights Council (HRC) is supporting the family in this case, one of several allegations of excessive use of force by the military under the state of emergency in effect since January.

According to NGOs, reports of police and military abuses have multiplied since President Daniel Noboa declared the country in an “internal armed conflict” and mobilized soldiers on the streets and in prisons to fight around twenty gangs described as “terrorists”. to fight.

AFP analyzed 18 videos distributed on social networks between January 11 and February 4 in various provinces. At least ten of them show signs of abuse, such as being beaten on the street during the nightly curfew.


Laura Ipanaqué wants to clear the honor of her son Javier, whom the armed forces have described as a “terrorist”. “No one will fill this void that they have left in me, this pain that I feel,” laments this 41-year-old mother. An investigation has been launched.

Lawyer Fernando Bastias, CDH coordinator, explains that “the disproportionate use of force outside prisons (…) is very complex to monitor because it occurs almost everywhere and people think it is normal because there is a state of emergency .”

The situation is similar in prisons under military control.

During an HRC-sponsored hearing to allow 18 detainees to access medical care, some reported alleged torture, including electric shocks.

“They forced me to spread my legs and hit me in the testicles, and they also hit me on the back with a cable,” said one prisoner.

A judge found a violation of the law and ordered damages.

When contacted by the AFP news agency, the Defense Ministry and the armed forces declined to comment. The United Nations has called on Ecuador to provide a “proportionate” response in the fight against gangs.

Daniel Noboa defends his iron fist policy. “No anti-patriot should come and tell us that we are violating the rights of anyone while protecting the rights of the vast majority,” Ecuador’s youngest president, 38, said recently, surrounded by military personnel.

According to Me Fernando Bastias, regaining control of gang-dominated prisons is “the right thing to do,” but “the use of torture as a form of punishment (…) is prohibited under international law.”