Presidential Candidate in Ecuador is Assassinated

Gang-driven violence in Ecuador seemed to reach a pinnacle on Wednesday when a presidential candidate known for speaking up against drug cartels and corruption was shot and killed at a political rally.

Fernando Villavicencio, 59, was surrounded by guards as he left an event in Ecuador’s capital where he told a crowd he would root out corruption and lock up the country’s “thieves.”

Villavicencio had reported receiving multiple death threats, including from affiliates of Mexico’s Sinaloa cartel, one of a slew of international organized crime groups that now operate in Ecuador. 

The assassination occured less than two weeks before a special presidential election. Villavicencio was not a front-runner.

President Guillermo Lasso admitted the killing could be linked to organized crime, and declared a state of emergency that would deploy additional military personnel throughout the South American country.

“Given the loss of a democrat and a fighter, the elections are not suspended; on the contrary, they have to be held, and democracy has to be strengthened,” Lasso said Thursday.

AP News

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