State of Emergency Declared After Mayor Killed in Ecuador

State of Emergency Declared After Mayor Killed

( – Waves of violent crime aren’t uncommon in South American countries where political upheaval and drug cartels are prominent. In recent years, Ecuador, where cartels have established a stronghold, has experienced more unrest than others. Bloodshed in the area has led to an emergency declaration this month.

On Monday, July 24, Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso issued a presidential decree declaring a state of emergency following an outburst of crime that resulted in the death of one mayor. Three provinces, Manabí, Durán, and Los Ríos, must abide by a 60-day curfew prohibiting residents from being out late at night. Additionally, they’ve lost the right to congregate or have privacy in their own homes.

Lasso’s decree also calls for an increased police presence in the area, adding personnel to build law enforcement numbers from 470 officers to 1200. The officers can enter peoples’ homes or open their mail at will. According to Reuters, increased violence in the area necessitated the action. Over the weekend of July 21 to 23, at least eight people died, and attackers shot and killed the mayor of Manta, Agustin Intriago. His death remains under investigation.

The violence wasn’t limited to the public, either. Many clashes broke out in the prisons, leading to calls for more action. Prisoners have taken nearly 100 guards hostage, while others in facilities nationwide are participating in a hunger strike. The reason for the strike is unclear.

In the last few years, Ecuador has set records with a startling rise in crime. In 2022, over 4,500 people reportedly met violent deaths, an increase in over 80% from the prior year. Cartels from Central and South America and as far away as Albania consistently recruit children into gangs. Some global drug enforcement agencies have likened Ecuador to a gold rush state for the drug trade — lawless and wild.

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