Six Colombians arrested for the murder of Ecuadorian presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio.

Ecuador faces upheaval: Villavicencio killed by Colombians, Lasso declares an emergency, and FBI joins the investigation.
  1. Ecuador experiences political turmoil as presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio, known for exposing corruption, is assassinated by Colombian nationals.
  2. President Guillermo Lasso declares a 60-day state of emergency and seeks FBI assistance, reflecting growing concerns over narco-politics and violence.
  3. Amidst the nation’s grief, debate arises over postponing the upcoming presidential debate, highlighting the profound impact of the crime on the electoral process.

The six people arrested for the murder of the Ecuadorian presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio, second in voting intentions for the general elections on August 20, are Colombians, informed the police of this country plagued by drug violence.

An alleged attacker who died after a gun battle with the journalist’s security agents is of the same nationality. ” All of them, including the deceased, are Colombians,” the police said when contacted by AFP. Previously, the Minister of the Interior, Juan Zapata, had only indicated to the press that those arrested were foreigners.

Ecuadorian President announces FBI support

Following the crime, Ecuador decreed a state of emergency on Thursday for 60 days and announced that it would receive help from the FBI to investigate the crime. “I have requested support from the FBI for the investigation,” said President Guillermo Lasso on the social network X (formerly Twitter), adding that “in the next few hours, a delegation will arrive in the country.”

The state of emergency allows the patrolling of the streets by the military and seeks to guarantee the development of the elections. Villavicencio, 59 years old and a centrist who uncovered several corruption cases, died on Wednesday when he was shot while leaving a sports center in the north of the capital after a rally.

He had denounced last week threats against him and his campaign team from the arrested leader of the group Los Choneros, with links to the Mexican Sinaloa cartel.

Call to postpone the debate

Villavicencio‘s campaign director, Antonio Lopez, in turn, proposed to postpone this Sunday’s presidential debate. “The debate should be postponed so that when we decide” the replacement, he “has almost similar conditions to be able to debate” with the other seven presidential candidates, he said in a press conference. Lasso blamed the attack on “organized crime” members and warned that “the full weight of the law will fall on them.”

The candidate of the Construye and Gente Buena movements was one of eight presidential candidates for the early elections in Ecuador, a country that was for decades an oasis of peace in South America but began to change a few years ago due to links with Mexican and Colombian cartels.

Homicides and violence lacerate Ecuador

The annual homicide rate nearly doubled in 2022 to 25 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants. Prison killings have left more than 430 inmates dead since 2021. Wednesday’s attack also left nine wounded, including an assemblywoman candidate and three police officers, according to the latest official toll. At the site of the murder, they have left a bouquet of white roses and a sign with a legend: “Damn, NARCOPOLITICS will pay. Forever Fernando T.Q.M.” (Te Quiero Mucho).

“We are in mourning, (Villavicencio) was a hope for honesty in our country, a candidate who denounced all the corruption of narco-politics,” Ruth Flores, a 65-year-old housewife, told AFP. “This is a political crime that acquires a terrorist character, and we do not doubt that this murder is an attempt to sabotage the electoral process,” added Lasso, who decreed mourning for three days.

Mexican leading newspaper “El Universo” reported that Villavicencio was killed “in the style of a hitman and with three shots to the head.” Police detonated an explosive device found at the site of the attack.