Ecuador Declares State of Emergency in Nearly a Third of its Provinces

Thu May 23 2024
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QUITO, Ecuador: Ecuador declared a state of emergency in nearly a third of its provinces on Wednesday after a surge in violence amid the government’s ongoing “war” against drug gangs.

The measure, which allows soldiers to be deployed on the street, was announced for a period of 60 days for seven of the country’s 24 provinces, according to a government order.

The states of Guayas, Los Rios, El Oro, Santa Elena, Manabi, Sucumbios and Orellana have recently seen an increase in acts of systematic violence committed by groups of organized violence, terrorist organizations and non-state warring individuals, the decree said.

President Daniel Noboa declared a state of emergency in January after a dangerous drug lord – Jose Adolfo Macias, alias “Fito” – escaped from a high security prison.

As gangsters detonated car bombs, kidnapped police and murdered several people in response to a promised Noboa crackdown, the president declared the country in a state of “internal armed conflict” and ordered the military to “neutralize” 22 criminal groups.

The state of emergency expired last month.

Earlier on Wednesday, Human Rights Watch urged Noboa to lift the state of “internal armed conflict” that still persists, saying it has opened the door to rights abuses.

The report reported several cases of serious human rights violations committed by security forces since the deployment began, also in January.

Long a peaceful haven between top cocaine exporters Colombia and Peru, Ecuador has seen an explosion of violence in recent years as rival gangs linked to Mexican and Colombian cartels vie for control.

The gang wars have largely taken place in the country’s prisons, where criminal leaders like Fito have enormous control.

The battles have left hundreds of prisoners dead since 2021, whose bodies were often found dismembered, hacked or burned.

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