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Ecuadorian Mayor Assassinated in Broad Daylight

Photo: Al Jazeera

  • What happened to the mayor of Manta, Ecuador? 

The mayor of Ecuador’s third-largest city Manta, Agustín Intriago, was assassinated in broad daylight while unveiling city projects in a local neighborhood. There was another death and four more injured. Days before the incident, Mr. Intriago had reported various threats and requested more police protection. While the police could not stop the attack on time, they did chase the truck with the perpetrators. The truck driver is in custody, while the gunman fled the scene.  

  • The Implications of Intriago’s Assassination 

In February, Intriago was reelected mayor. Intriago was a member of the Citizen Revolution Movement (CRM), the main opposition in the country. Considering Intriago’s influence on politics, his death has sent a strong message to the Ecuadorian government. The Ecuadorian government acknowledged that drug gangs were responsible for Intriago’s assassination. Specifically, Ecuadorian port cities have suffered increasing levels of violence recently. Gangs are attempting to establish more routes to transport cocaine to the USA and Europe. Manta is a fundamental port that is vital for drug gangs to control. The Colombian and Mexican drug cartels increased presence in Ecuador has increased violence nationally. This incident represents organized crime’s growing power within Ecuador, a direct threat to the Ecuadorian government. 

  • Ecuador’s Rise in Crime Explained

Since the beginning of Guillermo Lasso’s presidency in 2021, drug gangs have had greater control in Ecuador. While murder rates increased before Lasso’s presidency, there has been an exponential rise from 7.7 (2020) to 25.9 (2022) murders per 100,000. In addition, the US had growing concerns against high-ranking Ecuadorian state security forces to the point diplomatic visas were removed, citing links to drug trafficking. Furthermore, Ecuador has had a waning economy. The fall in the price of crude oil, Ecuador’s main export, since 2014 has contributed to its slowing economy. The government and citizens have had a more limited money supply. As a result, there has been higher unemployment (3.48% to 6.43%) and poverty rates (27.6% to 34.6%) within the country when comparing 2014 to the present. With a worsened economy, many Ecuadorians have turned to criminal gangs to earn a living, increasing overall crime in the country.  

  • Possible Governmental Actions to Combat Violence 

As a result of the assassination, President Lasso declared a state of emergency for three provinces, including Manta’s province, due to increased violence. While this is a solution in the short term, there needs to be more done by the government to eliminate crime. Ultimately, the two highest priorities within the Ecuadorian government should be better policing and revamping the economy long term. When accounting for Intriago’s unfortunate death, the Ecuadorian government must ensure such a tragedy does not happen again.

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