In the midst of a state of emergency in Ecuador, residents of the country’s largest city live in fear

After the escape of enemy number 1, the scenes of violence in Ecuador went around the world. Thousands of soldiers are deployed throughout the country against drug trafficking gangs who have been causing panic for a week.



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Ecuador has decreed a "internal war" against drug traffickers (STR / AFP)

“Many prefer to stay at home” : like many residents of Guayaquil, Francisco Loor Cordero, 25, hasn’t gone to work for two days. With thousands of soldiers deployed throughout Ecuador, the government is continuing its muscular offensive against the criminal gangs linked to drug trafficking who have been terrorizing the country for four days, and will receive support from the United States to “work together”. The wave of violence that the country is experiencing has its origins in the Sunday escape from Guayaquil prison of the feared leader of the Choneros gang Adolfo Macias, alias “Fito”, followed by mutinies in the prisons, hostage-taking and explosive attacks.

Despite significant army reinforcements in the streets, the fear of an outbreak of violence is on everyone’s minds. In the case of Francisco Loor Cordero, this waiter in a restaurant, it was his employer himself who exempted him, because of the security chaos. “The authorities have recommended not going out unless necessary. We cannot just decide to go to the cinema or a restaurant for fear that something will happen to us and we will never return”he says.

Closed businesses, deserted streets… More than 22,400 soldiers deployed, with land, air and sea patrols, searches and all-out operations in prisons: the government of new president Daniel Noboa does not seem willing to give in to attempts of intimidation of criminal gangs, after the scenes of violence in recent days and in particular the hostage-taking live on television Tuesday January 9.

But the balance of power remains unequal, according to Francisco. “You can’t imagine the power of the delinquents here. They have houses, properties, weapons, big guns”alerts the young man.

“They have better weapons than the police”

Francisco Loor Cordero, restaurateur in Guayaquil

at franceinfo

President Noboa, 36, gave a muscular response. On Monday, he declared a state of emergency for 60 days throughout the territory, including in prisons, which have become operating centers for narcotics. Elected in the fall on the promise of restoring security in the country, once a haven of peace but which had become a shipping center for cocaine produced in neighboring Colombia and Peru, he then considered the country to be “in a state of war” and called for “mobilization”.

Violence has increased over the past three years, according to Solène Haillard, head of the Alliance Française of Guayaquil. “Following the dismantling of the Farc in Colombia, everything was transferred to Ecuador. The former armed groups of Colombia have the field open to Ecuadorian gangs which have gained much more strength and which have expanded”, she explains. Over the last five years, the rate of homicides per 100,000 inhabitants in the country has increased from 6 to 46 in 2023. The Quai d’Orsay advises French people against any travel to Ecuador.

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