Ecuador declares a new state of emergency and curfew in two provinces and one city

Ecuador’s Security Committee decided this Monday to declare, for 60 days, a state of emergency and a night curfew in the provinces of Manabí and Los Ríos and in the municipality of Durán, one day after the mayor of Manta, Agostino Intriagowas killed.

The announcement of the new state of emergency was made by the president of Ecuador, the conservative Guillermo Lasso, during a meeting of the Security Committee held in Durán, a municipality which is part of the metropolitan area of ​​Guayaquil and which records one of the highest rates of violence and insecurity in the country.

This new state of emergency, decreed due to the increase in crime and violence rates, covers the province of Manabí, where Manta is located, and the neighboring province of Los Ríos, which also borders the province of Guayas, where Guayaquil and Durán are located.

In all three jurisdictions, curfews will be in effect from 10:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. local time.

The states of exception have been repeated since the beginning of Lasso’s presidential term in May 2021 to try to appease the peaks of violence due to the insecurity crisis that Ecuador is experiencing.

The assassination of Intriago, one of Ecuador’s most popular mayors, shocked the Andean country and put the extraordinary general election campaign in mourning, where several candidates suspended their activities in mourning.

Intriago, 38, re-elected last February, was murdered during a construction drive on Sunday.

So far there is one prisoner for the crime, a Venezuelan citizen who is hospitalized after being injured in the attack, while the police have also been able to recover four mobile phones which are under analysis, as well as the remains of shots fired at the deceased mayor.

The Intriago case adds to last May’s attack on the mayor of Durán, Luis Chonillo, who participated on the Security Committee this Monday, and to the murders that have taken place in Ecuador in recent months, including that of the candidate for legislator Rider Sánchez, a few days ago in the coastal province of Esmeraldas.

In this sense, the Security Committee of Ecuador will meet again this Tuesday in Guayaquil with representatives of the Association of Municipalities of Ecuador (AME), the Consortium of Autonomous Provincial Governments of Ecuador (Congope) and the National Council of Rural Parochial Governments of Ecuador (Conagopare).

The AME expects to pronounce itself on Tuesday morning on the situation of violence and threats that some local authorities in the country are suffering due to delinquency and organized crime.

Ecuador ended 2022 with the highest rate of violent deaths in its history, recording 25.32 per 100,000 inhabitants, catapulted by street crime and organized crime, largely linked to drug trafficking, which has transformed Ecuadorian ports into large springboards for sending cocaine to Europe and North America.

Strikes in prisons

Almost about a hundred prison guards are held in five prisons that are part of the 13 prisons where prisoners are on hunger strike, according to the National Integrated Service for Persons Deprived of Liberty (Snai), responsible for the prison system of the Andean country.

The largest number of detained officers is in the prison of Turi, near the southern Andean city of Cuenca, where they are 40, followed by the prisons of Latacunga (Cotopaxi), with 25; from Machala (El Oro), with 14; from Archidona (Napo), with 12; and from Azogues (Cañar), with 5.

According to SNAI, at the moment, prisoners on hunger strike belong to the prisons of the provinces of Imbabura, Napo, Chimborazo (2), Tungurahua, Azuay, Cañar (2), El Oro, Loja, Guayas, Cotopaxi and Pichincha.

SNAI has not yet specified the number of prisoners on hunger strike nationwide nor the reasons for this measure of force.

In the previous months, other groups of inmates linked to an organized crime gang held a similar protest demanding transfers to other prisons.

This hunger strike began on Sunday, coinciding with a series of clashes between criminal groups in the Litoral Penitentiary, located in the city of Guayaquil and officially called Guayas Deprivation of Liberty Center number 1, which left a balance of six dead and eleven wounded.

Ecuador’s prisons have been the scene of a series of massacres since 2020 in which more than 450 prisoners have been murdered, following clashes between rival gangs vying for internal control of the detention centres.

Added to this are prison conditions, with overcrowding that in some cases can reach 50% of the prison capacity.

The situation of violence has also spread to the streets, with organized crime groups fighting for control of drug trafficking routes, especially in the coastal area, where the ports that have made Ecuador one of the main stepping stones for cocaine reaching North America and Europe are located.