Ecuador | Authorities declare state of emergency in seven provinces due to violence

(Quito) Ecuador has reinstated a state of emergency in seven of the country’s 24 provinces, where violence has increased in recent weeks, the government announced on Wednesday, which had already decreed this exceptional regime in January the entire territory.

The state of emergency, which allows the deployment of the army on public roads, was declared Wednesday for 60 days in the coastal provinces of Guayas, El Oro, Santa Elena, Manabí and Los Ríos, and the Amazon provinces of Sucumbíos and Orellana, in addition to the canton of Camilo Ponce Enríquez (in the Andean province of Azuay), according to the presidency.

According to the decree, there has been “an increase in systematic violence perpetrated by organized violent groups, terrorist organizations and non-state belligerent individuals” in these areas.

In January, the escape of a gang leader from a high-security prison sparked violent uprisings by drug trafficking groups that led to prison riots, attacks on the press, car bombs, temporary hostage-taking of some 200 prison officers and police officers, as well as around twenty deaths.


President of Ecuador Daniel Noboa

Engaged in a fight against drug trafficking gangs, Ecuadorian President Daniel Noboa then established a state of emergency, in force for the 90 days permitted by law, and declared the country in “internal armed conflict”.

“Outdated” public forces

Under the state of emergency, the army was ordered to neutralize around twenty criminal gangs linked to the Albanian mafia and cartels from Mexico and Colombia, described as “terrorists” and “belligerents”. .

“On January 9, when we declared war on terrorist groups, we were in general chaos and, in five months, we managed to restore peace for the Ecuadorian people,” Mr. Noboa said in a video released by the Presidency.

The exceptional regime for the seven provinces is part of a “second phase of the war” against drugs and organized crime, he added.

The Ecuadorian president affirmed that this war “has become sectorized. The criminal gangs, faced with the military offensive, took refuge and entrenched themselves in seven provinces” where the capacities of the public forces “were exceeded”.

In these regions, dozens of people have been killed in several massacres in recent weeks.

The provinces under a state of emergency are those which “most need the freedom of action of the armed forces and the national police”, which is why the rights to the inviolability of the home and correspondence have been suspended, Mr. Noboa said.

“Despite the significant risks we face, we are here to guarantee what we have gained and respond with determination and strength,” he emphasized.

Human rights violations

Once considered an island of peace in Latin America, Ecuador, located between Colombia and Peru, the world’s two largest producers of cocaine, has been hit by a wave of violence in recent years, linked to feuding gangs. trafficking routes and power in prisons.

Homicides there increased by 800% between 2018 and 2023, going from 6 to 47 per 100,000 inhabitants. Since 2021, more than 460 inmates have been killed in prison.

The NGO Human Rights Watch said Wednesday that although crime is down, extortion and kidnappings have increased and the security situation remains serious.

In an open letter addressed to the Ecuadorian president, the organization denounces the “serious violations of human rights” committed by the security forces to confront, according to it, the “internal armed conflict” opened by the gangs.

Calling on Mr. Noboa to return to the state of emergency, Juanita Goebertus Estrada, director of HRW for the Americas, reports at least “one apparent extrajudicial execution, several arbitrary arrests and numerous cases of mistreatment in prison which, in some cases, could amount to torture.”

source site-59