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Carolina Mella Happe

Guayaquil, Ecuador
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About Carolina
Carolina Mella Happe is a journalist based in Guayaquil, Ecuador.
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Julio has his shroud and cemetery flowers ready, but in Ecuador they won't let him die in peace

24 Mar 2024  |  El País México
The Bernal family in Ecuador faces significant challenges in their quest to secure euthanasia for Julio, who has been in a vegetative state for ten years following a cardiac arrest. Despite the Constitutional Court's ruling that legalized euthanasia, bureaucratic and medical obstacles persist. The family's emotional and physical toll is evident as they navigate legal hurdles and societal resistance. The article highlights the broader implications of euthanasia legalization in a conservative country and the ongoing struggle for a dignified death for those suffering from irreversible conditions.

The Ecuadorian Prosecutor's Office investigates a case of influence peddling in the Vice Presidency

22 Mar 2024  |  El País México
The Ecuadorian Prosecutor's Office has detained Francisco Barreiro Abad, the son of Vice President Verónica Abad, as part of an investigation into alleged influence peddling within the Vice Presidency. The operation, conducted by the Transparency and Anti-Corruption Unit, took place in Quito and Cuenca. The investigation highlights the strained relationship between President Daniel Noboa and Vice President Abad, who has been assigned diplomatic duties in Israel. The case could lead to a political trial and potential removal of Abad from office, with President Noboa needing to appoint a new vice president if she is ousted.

Paola Roldán, the woman with ALS who legalized euthanasia in Ecuador, dies

12 Mar 2024  |  El País México
Paola Roldán, an ALS patient who successfully campaigned for the legalization of euthanasia in Ecuador, has passed away. Her legal battle culminated in a landmark decision by the Constitutional Court in February 2024, allowing assisted death for those suffering from severe, incurable conditions. Despite her deteriorating health, Roldán continued to advocate for psychological support for ALS patients and their families. Her death marks the end of a significant chapter in Ecuador's medical and legal history, leaving behind a legacy of compassion and resilience.

Noboa surpasses 80% popularity in Ecuador after his first 100 days in government

07 Mar 2024  |  El País México
Daniel Noboa's government has completed its first 100 days with an 82% approval rating, driven by strong measures against organized crime and political alliances. Despite high popularity, challenges remain in addressing economic issues and long-term governance. Noboa's security policies, similar to those of Bukele, have reduced crime significantly, but his proposed tax reforms face public opposition. The upcoming referendum on security and legal reforms will be crucial for his administration's future.

Half an hour of terror on the set, hostages speak: 'I was on my knees and feared dying from a gunshot'

11 Jan 2024  |  El País América
During a live broadcast at TC Televisión in Guayaquil, Ecuador, armed and masked men stormed the studio, taking journalists and staff hostage. The assailants, identified as 'Tiguerones', demanded not to be approached by police and forced a journalist to relay this message. The siege, which lasted about 30 minutes, ended when police intervened, leading to the arrest of 13 attackers, including two minors. The incident was part of a day of terror in Ecuador with multiple attacks, and it highlighted the vulnerability of journalists in the country.

Mafias challenge Ecuador from prisons

10 Jan 2024  |  elpais.com
Ecuador's largest prisons, La Penitenciaría del Litoral and La Regional in Guayaquil, are controlled by inmates who manage the facilities and orchestrate drug trafficking and organized crime from within. Seven criminal gangs, including Los Choneros led by José Adolfo Macías, alias Fito, dominate the prisons. Recent violence, including a massacre in February 2021 and a series of attacks following the disappearance of Fito, has challenged the government's control. The SNAI is accused of unprecedented corruption, allowing contraband and weapons into prisons, as reported by the CIDH. The prison system's self-governance and internal economy, with leaders charging for better accommodations, reflect the state's neglect and lack of comprehensive criminal policy.

The Most Dangerous Criminal in Ecuador, Fito, Escapes from Prison

08 Jan 2024  |  El País México
The Ecuadorian government is uncertain when José Adolfo Macías Villamar, alias Fito, the country's most dangerous criminal, escaped from Guayaquil prison. It took authorities 15 hours to acknowledge the escape of the leader of the violent gang Los Choneros, which operates as an arm of the Mexican Sinaloa cartel. The escape was discovered during a routine operation to control prohibited items in the prison. Fito, who has a history of escapes and numerous criminal charges, had been transferred back to his original prison cell following a judge's order. The incident has prompted an investigation by the State Prosecutor's Office.

Prison Ships and 'Bukele Model' Prisons in Ecuador, a Security Plan Adrift

04 Jan 2024  |  El País México
Ecuador's President Daniel Noboa's plan to use prison ships and build high-security prisons, inspired by El Salvador's Bukele model, faces criticism for being a temporary and insufficient solution to the country's severe security crisis. With 31,300 inmates in overcrowded prisons, the government aims to isolate criminal leaders and reduce violence. However, experts argue that the plan lacks clarity and fails to address systemic corruption and the deep-rooted connections between prisons and organized crime. The construction of new high-security prisons and the use of prison ships are seen as inadequate measures to solve the underlying issues of the prison system and overall security in Ecuador.

Former Vice President of Ecuador Jorge Glas to Seek Asylum in Mexico

20 Dec 2023  |  El País México
Jorge Glas, former Vice President of Ecuador, has sought refuge in the Mexican embassy in Quito, citing fears for his safety and freedom. His lawyer, Franco Loor, claims Glas is a political persecuted individual. The move follows a request by the Ecuadorian Prosecutor's Office to locate and detain Glas for an investigation into the misuse of reconstruction funds. Glas has two prior convictions related to corruption cases. The Mexican government will review his asylum request, while Ecuador's Foreign Ministry has yet to comment. Other former officials from Rafael Correa's administration have previously sought asylum in Mexico.

A mega-operation in Ecuador reveals the depth of narco-politics in the judicial system

16 Dec 2023  |  El País México
A large-scale operation in Ecuador led to the arrest of 31 individuals, including judges, prosecutors, and police officers, revealing the deep infiltration of narco-politics in the judicial system. The operation, directed by State Prosecutor Diana Salazar, exposed the extent of corruption and criminal activities linked to narcotics trafficker Leandro Norero. The investigation also implicated high-ranking officials and highlighted the challenges faced by the judicial system in combating organized crime.

Organized crime tightens its grip on Ecuador

14 Dec 2023  |  EL PAÍS English
Ecuador is grappling with severe organized crime, becoming the third most crime-ridden country in Latin America. Drug traffickers exert significant influence through violence and corruption, facilitated by a passive government and compromised justice system. A report detailing the extent of organized crime was suppressed during a government transition. The report maps 11 criminal groups operating in 21 provinces, focusing on drug trafficking and other illicit activities. Security analyst Mario Pazmiño and U.S. Ambassador Michael Fitzpatrick highlight the pervasive issue of money laundering. President Daniel Noboa calls for strengthening the Financial Analysis Unit to combat this problem.

The tentacles of organized crime spread throughout Ecuador

14 Dec 2023  |  El País México
Ecuador has become the third most crime-ridden country in Latin America due to the pervasive influence of organized crime, which has infiltrated state institutions and security forces. A report intended to be released before Guillermo Lasso left office highlights the deep entrenchment of criminal organizations in Ecuador, with 11 groups operating in 21 of the 24 provinces. The current president, Daniel Noboa, aims to strengthen anti-money laundering efforts. The article underscores the state's complicity and lack of decisive action, with experts and international bodies providing critical insights into the crisis.

Nine journalists flee Ecuador in 2023, pushed out by organized crime

11 Dec 2023  |  english.elpais.com
In 2023, nine Ecuadorian journalists were forced into exile due to life-threatening situations created by organized crime. Karol Noboa, who reported on criminal gangs and their activities, was the first to flee. The NGO Fundamedios recorded 219 threats against journalists and media outlets in Ecuador between January and October. Journalists face the impossibility of reporting attacks or seeking police protection due to suspected collusion with organized crime. The situation is exacerbated in the Amazon region, where journalists also contend with tensions over oil and mineral deposits. Civil society has established the Protection Table for Journalists to provide financial aid to those in exile. Of the nine journalists who fled, only Anderson Boscán and Mónica Velásquez have returned and resumed their work, while the others remain in hiding, relying on international support.

Noboa takes his first presidential action in Ecuador: breaks with his vice president and sends her to Israel

29 Nov 2023  |  elpais.com
Ecuador's Vice President Verónica Abad reluctantly accepted President Daniel Noboa's unusual assignment to go to Israel as a collaborator for peace, marking Noboa's first decision since taking office on November 23. This move was interpreted as Noboa wanting Abad out of the country, following a public acknowledgment of their split since their unexpected advancement to the second round of elections in August. The rift between Noboa and Abad, evident since the first round of the campaign, was exacerbated by legislative agreements with Rafael Correa's Revolución Ciudadana and controversial statements by Abad. Noboa has also restructured the Vice Presidency, reducing it significantly. Abad, determined to ensure constitutional stability, has requested a meeting with Noboa, but the President's communication team has arranged for the Foreign Minister to meet with her instead.

Daniel Noboa assumes the presidency of Ecuador: 'I am not anti-anything'

24 Nov 2023  |  El País México
Daniel Noboa, a 35-year-old politician and son of millionaire Álvaro Noboa, has been sworn in as the President of Ecuador for an 18-month term. In a brief seven-minute speech, Noboa emphasized his commitment to Ecuador and distanced himself from traditional political paradigms. He highlighted the importance of youth and innovation, and prioritized security and employment reforms. Noboa's presidency begins amidst significant fiscal challenges, high national debt, and severe security issues, including a high crime rate and an unresolved electricity crisis.

Ecuador turns the page: the 913 days of Lasso's government that weakened the country

23 Nov 2023  |  El País México
Guillermo Lasso's 913-day presidency in Ecuador is marked by significant political, social, and economic decline. Despite initial successes in vaccination, his tenure saw escalating violence, economic stagnation, and deteriorating public services. Lasso's government faced criticism for its handling of prison massacres, rising crime rates, and inadequate healthcare and education systems. The article highlights the public's disillusionment and the challenges faced by the incoming president, Daniel Noboa.

Paola Roldán's Fight for a Dignified Death in Ecuador: 'Recognize This Right That Belongs to Me'

22 Nov 2023  |  El País México
Paola Roldán, suffering from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), is fighting for the legalization of euthanasia in Ecuador. Her case, presented to the Constitutional Court, challenges the penal code that criminalizes assisted death. Despite her severe disability and constant pain, Paola seeks a dignified end surrounded by loved ones. The court's decision could set a precedent for euthanasia laws in Ecuador, with potential implications for future legislative actions.

Noboa breaks his post-election silence to respond to Correa

12 Nov 2023  |  El País México
Ecuador's new president, Daniel Noboa, broke his silence since the election day to address Rafael Correa's intention to impeach the State's attorney general, Diana Salazar, which Noboa opposes. Correa's party, Revolución Ciudadana, along with PSC, hold significant weight in the Assembly, where Noboa's alliance has only 14 members. Political analyst Santiago Basabe and politologist Ariana Tanca discuss the challenges Noboa faces, including a high homicide rate, the need for medical supplies in hospitals, and the potential impact of his cabinet choices. Noboa's strategy of silence may harm his political capital, and he must navigate complex scenarios to complete his term and consider re-election.

Ecuador in Five Keys: Radiography of a Country in Crisis

09 Oct 2023  |  El País México
Ecuador is facing a multifaceted crisis characterized by political instability, economic challenges, and escalating violence. The upcoming presidential elections are marked by uncertainty, with candidates Luisa González and Daniel Noboa representing different political legacies. The country is grappling with a severe security situation, with a significant increase in violent crimes and the influence of drug cartels. Economically, Ecuador is dealing with a substantial fiscal deficit and low foreign investment, compounded by political and social instability. The crisis has led to a significant migration wave, with many Ecuadorians seeking better opportunities abroad. The article highlights the deep-seated issues affecting the nation and the urgent need for effective leadership to address these challenges.

A face-off between Noboa and González in Ecuador to convince the large number of undecided voters

01 Oct 2023  |  El País México
Daniel Noboa and Luisa González, the two finalists in Ecuador's presidential race, face off in a debate aimed at swaying the 37% of undecided voters. The campaign has been dominated by violence, including the assassination of candidate Fernando Villavicencio. Noboa leads in polls with 44%, while González has 32%. The debate is crucial for both candidates to address the main concerns of Ecuadorians, particularly security. Analysts emphasize the importance of post-debate strategies to maintain momentum until the elections.

The hell of studying in Durán, the most dangerous city in Ecuador: ‘We’re afraid, it’s like living in a war zone’

01 Oct 2023  |  EL PAÍS English
Durán, Ecuador's most dangerous city, is plagued by violence and organized crime, severely impacting the education system. Schools have been closed due to safety concerns, forcing children like Estefanía to study at home under challenging conditions. Parents and teachers express frustration over the lack of security and inadequate virtual learning. The police and government are criticized for their ineffective measures, leaving residents in constant fear. The article highlights the dire situation and the urgent need for effective solutions to ensure the safety and education of children in Durán.

Fito, accused murderer of Ecuadorian presidential candidate, defies the system and releases narcocorrido from prison

25 Sep 2023  |  EL PAÍS English
José Adolfo Macías Villamar, alias Fito, a notorious Ecuadorian criminal, released a narcocorrido video from prison, showcasing his influence and defiance against the government. The video, featuring his daughter Queen Michelle, was recorded in various settings, including the prison where Fito is held. The Ecuadorian government condemned the unauthorized recording, highlighting their struggle to control criminal activities within the prison system. Security analyst Fernando Carrión interprets the video as a declaration of Fito's power and an attempt to legitimize his leadership among criminal gangs. The narcocorrido genre, rooted in Mexican history, is used to emphasize the connection between Ecuadorian gangs and the Sinaloa Cartel.

Fito, the criminal accused of the murder of Fernando Villavicencio, challenges the system with a narcocorrido in Ecuador

25 Sep 2023  |  El País México
José Adolfo Macías Villamar, alias Fito, a notorious Ecuadorian criminal, released a narcocorrido video to assert his dominance over the state, following his brief stint in a maximum-security prison. The video, featuring his daughter Queen Michelle, was filmed in various locations, including his preferred prison, despite strict regulations. The Ecuadorian government, through SNAI, denied authorizing the recording equipment, suggesting illegal means were used. The release coincides with Fito's return to his original prison, where he continues to operate his criminal network. The narcocorrido aims to reshape his image and legitimize his leadership among criminal bands, reflecting a broader societal demand. The choice of a Mexican corrido underscores the connection between Los Choneros and the Sinaloa cartel. The article also touches on the historical and cultural significance of corridos in Mexico and their adaptation by criminal organizations.

Lasso disregards the popular will to stop oil exploitation in the Yasuní reserve

23 Sep 2023  |  elpais.com
On August 20, 60% of Ecuadorians voted to halt oil exploitation in the Yasuní reserve, one of the most biodiverse areas on the planet. However, President Guillermo Lasso has expressed his intention to continue oil production in block 43, disregarding the referendum. The Constitutional Court of Ecuador had ruled that if the referendum resulted in a 'yes', the state must not initiate new contracts for oil exploitation in block 43 and must take immediate measures to repair nature. Despite this, the state oil company Petroecuador plans to continue drilling until December 2023. Environmental group Yasunidos, which promoted the referendum, is concerned about the high investment in capital and the environmental impact. The Constitutional Court has given a one-year deadline from the official notification of the results to execute the referendum's outcome, which includes stopping oil production and addressing cultural, social, and environmental damages.

Durán, the city in Ecuador hijacked by organized crime

19 Sep 2023  |  El País México
Durán, a city in Ecuador, is plagued by organized crime, with violent incidents and control by criminal gangs like Chone Killers and Latin Kings. The mayor, Luis Chonillo, faces constant threats and has criticized the government's ineffective response. The city's infrastructure and social services are severely impacted, with high levels of poverty and violence disrupting daily life and governance.

The femicide of Letty Cando, raped, stabbed, and dismembered, holds a mirror to Ecuador's extreme violence

12 Sep 2023  |  El País México
The murder of Letty Cando has sparked outrage in Ecuador. The confessed murderer admitted to raping her, stabbing her three times in the heart, cutting her body into seven pieces, and burying her in a swampy area of Guangüiltagua Park, north of Quito, on the morning of September 3. This is the latest case of gender violence in a country that has seen 362 crimes against women in 2023. Cando, a 33-year-old nurse, was reported missing after not showing up for work for three days. The perpetrator, Jhonny Caiza, was found to have taken her to his home, raped, and dismembered her. The Ecuadorian Prosecutor's Office is investigating Caiza, who is currently detained for involuntary disappearance resulting in death, with the potential to reclassify the crime as femicide, punishable by up to 34 years in prison. Evidence such as Cando's purse and burned clothing remnants were found at Caiza's residence, along with other women's clothing pieces, which will be tested for DNA to determine if there are other victims.

The candidates in the Ecuador elections seek to make a name for themselves

05 Sep 2023  |  El País México
In Ecuador's upcoming elections, Luisa González and Daniel Noboa are vying for the presidency, representing opposing ideologies. González, from the left-leaning Revolución Ciudadana, and Noboa, from the center-right Acción Democrática Nacional, must garner support amid a politically weary and violence-stricken electorate. González aims to appeal to younger voters and distance herself from the controversial figure of Rafael Correa, while Noboa leverages his family's political legacy. The election, set for October 15, is influenced by the country's pervasive insecurity and recent political violence, including the assassination of candidate Fernando Villavicencio. Both candidates are adjusting their strategies to address the electorate's emotional and security concerns.

Ecuador bans oil exploitation in the Yasuní Amazon reserve in a historic referendum

21 Aug 2023  |  El País México
Ecuador will end oil extraction in the Yasuní National Park following a historic referendum where 58.9% of voters chose to halt exploitation in the ITT block. The decision marks a significant victory for environmentalists and indigenous communities who have long opposed oil drilling in the biodiverse reserve. The state has 18 months to cease operations and cannot sign new contracts for oil extraction. The referendum is seen as a shift towards sustainable development and greater autonomy for local communities.

Campaign closing with bulletproof vest: violence marks the final stretch of the elections in Ecuador

18 Aug 2023  |  elpais.com
The final days of the electoral campaign in Ecuador were marked by heightened security measures for candidates due to violence. Christian Zurita, who took over the presidential candidacy for Movimiento Construye after the assassination of Fernando Villavicencio, held his first and last political rally in Quito with a bulletproof vest. In Guayaquil, Daniel Noboa's caravan dispersed amid gunfire, though the Interior Minister dismissed it as an attack on the candidate. The presidential duo from Revolución Ciudadana led by former president Rafael Correa campaigned in Guayaquil, while other candidates like Otto Sonnenholzner and Yaku Pérez also took security precautions. Xavier Hervas suspended his campaign activities following Villavicencio's murder. The electoral silence period began, leading up to the vote on August 20 amidst a wave of violence and threats of terrorist attacks.

Ecuador presidential campaigning ends amid tight security and bulletproof vests

18 Aug 2023  |  english.elpais.com
Presidential campaigning in Ecuador concluded with heightened security measures following the assassination of candidate Fernando Villavicencio. Candidates Christian Zurita, Daniel Noboa, Luisa González, Otto Sonnenholzner, Jan Topic, and Yaku Pérez held their final rallies in various cities, with many wearing bulletproof vests due to the threat of violence. The campaign was marked by incidents such as a shootout at Noboa's rally and controversies like Topic's family company being involved in an audit over security camera contracts. The country now enters a period of electoral silence before the vote on August 20.

Organized crime bloodies the vote

17 Aug 2023  |  L’Essenziale
On August 10, Quito's financial district was paralyzed by fear following the assassination of presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio, who was killed in a shooting that left 64 shell casings. The attack is part of a wave of terror in Ecuador, with President Guillermo Lasso declaring a 60-day emergency and stating that organized crime is challenging the rule of law and attempting to sabotage the upcoming August 20 elections. Villavicencio had previously received threats linked to the Sinaloa Cartel. Despite the violence, the electoral campaign will resume. Villavicencio's death follows an attack on Manta's mayor, Agustín Intriago. The police have arrested six Colombians with criminal records in connection with the assassination, but details remain unclear. The Choneros, a narcotrafficking group working with the Sinaloa Cartel, are among the criminal organizations involved. The country is on high alert during the electoral campaign, with Lasso vowing not to surrender democratic institutions to organized crime. Christian Zurita has been chosen to replace Villavicencio as the presidential candidate for the Construye party.

Violence centers the debate of seven candidates for the presidency of Ecuador

16 Aug 2023  |  diariocordoba.com.ar
The presidential debate in Ecuador focused on violence, with candidates agreeing on the need for tougher measures and better-equipped security forces but lacking details on implementation and funding. The debate, constrained by a rigid format, covered economic policy, social welfare, democracy, and sustainability. The assassination of candidate Fernando Villavicencio overshadowed the event, with uncertainty about the political landscape. Luisa González, from the Revolución Ciudadana party, was the favorite, with Otto Sonneholzner and Yaku Pérez also contenders. The candidates proposed various measures to tackle crime and corruption, with an emphasis on security to attract investment. The unresolved issue of governance with the next Assembly was not addressed. Ecuadorians will vote in early presidential and legislative elections on August 20, following a 'cross-death' that dissolved the legislature amid a political trial against President Guillermo Lasso. The FBI is assisting in the investigation of Villavicencio's murder, with six Colombians detained.

New political crime in Ecuador: Pedro Briones, leader of Rafael Correa's party, assassinated

14 Aug 2023  |  El País México
Pedro Briones, a leader of the Revolución Ciudadana party in Ecuador, was assassinated outside his home in San Mateo, Esmeraldas. This incident adds to a series of violent attacks against political figures in the country, including the recent murders of presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio, Manta's mayor Agustín Intriago, and assembly candidate Rider Sánchez. Concurrently, Guayaquil experienced unrest as inmates demanded the return of Fito, a notorious criminal leader, to a regional prison. The Ecuadorian prison system remains on high alert following these events.

Journalist Christian Zurita to Replace Fernando Villavicencio in Ecuador Elections

13 Aug 2023  |  El País México
Christian Zurita has been chosen by the political movement Construye to replace the assassinated Fernando Villavicencio in the upcoming Ecuadorian presidential elections. The announcement was made by vice-presidential candidate Andrea González, who criticized the National Electoral Council (CNE) for its slow response in confirming the candidacy. Zurita, an investigative journalist, has a history of exposing corruption, including a significant case involving former president Rafael Correa. The presidential debate will proceed with heightened security, although Zurita and González argue that Villavicencio's absence should be symbolically acknowledged.

How Peru became the king of blueberries

13 Aug 2023  |  EL PAÍS English
Peru has emerged as the leading global exporter of blueberries after being a minor competitor over the past decade. This significant leap in the agricultural sector underscores the country's growing influence in the global fruit market.

Ecuador: from a peaceful country to one of the most violent in the region

13 Aug 2023  |  El País México
Ecuador has experienced a dramatic increase in violence, transitioning from a relatively peaceful country to one of the most violent in the region. The government's strategy of militarizing public security has failed to curb the rise in crime, with 4,200 violent deaths reported so far this year. Organized crime, particularly within prisons, has escalated, leading to widespread fear and insecurity among citizens. The assassination of presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio has further highlighted the severity of the situation. Corruption and impunity within law enforcement and government institutions exacerbate the problem, with many crimes remaining unsolved and unprosecuted.

Four hitmen, drug cartels and security failures: The murder of Fernando Villavicencio

12 Aug 2023  |  english.elpais.com
The assassination of Ecuadorian presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio in Quito has exposed the extent of criminal networks in Ecuador, linked to Mexican cartels and Colombian hitmen. Six Colombian suspects have been arrested, with two identified as the shooters. Villavicencio, who had previously reported threats from a drug gang leader, was killed after leaving a rally. The investigation has revealed connections to various criminal organizations and has prompted assistance from the FBI. Ecuador faces a significant security crisis as it becomes a strategic point for cocaine trafficking between South America and the world.

Four hitmen, drug cartels, and security failures: this was the assassination of Fernando Villavicencio

12 Aug 2023  |  El País México
The assassination of Ecuadorian presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio in Quito highlights the severe security crisis and the influence of drug cartels in the country. The attack involved Colombian hitmen linked to Mexican cartels, revealing the complex criminal network in the region. Despite prior threats and a high risk of attack, Villavicencio's vehicle was not armored. The investigation has led to the arrest of several suspects, and the Ecuadorian government has sought FBI assistance. The incident underscores the violent backdrop of the upcoming presidential elections and the pervasive influence of organized crime in Ecuador.

The Government of Ecuador transfers Fito, a criminal leader who threatened candidate Villavicencio, to a maximum security prison

12 Aug 2023  |  El País México
The Government of Ecuador has transferred José Adolfo Macías Villamar, alias Fito, leader of the criminal gang Los Choneros, to a maximum security prison in Guayaquil. This move follows the assassination of presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio, who had received death threats from Fito. The transfer involved 3,600 police and military personnel. Authorities are on alert for potential prison riots in response. Fito, who has a history of violent crimes and connections with the Sinaloa cartel, was previously in a less secure prison. The article details the criminal activities and internal conflicts within Los Choneros, as well as the broader implications for Ecuador's security situation.

Political violence in Ecuador: 'Wherever Fernando Villavicencio went, there were always bomb threats'

11 Aug 2023  |  El País México
Ecuador is gripped by fear and political violence following the assassination of presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio, just days before the elections. The attack highlights the severe threat posed by organized crime, with President Guillermo Lasso declaring a state of exception and vowing to continue the electoral process. Villavicencio, who had faced numerous threats, was killed in a vehicle provided by the state, raising questions about the adequacy of his security. The incident has intensified the atmosphere of the election campaign, with the government and police facing criticism for their handling of security threats.

Ecuador awaits the arrival of an FBI team to support the investigation into the murder of Fernando Villavicencio

11 Aug 2023  |  El País México
Ecuador's President Guillermo Lasso announced that an FBI team will assist in investigating the assassination of presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio. The FBI's mission is to help identify the intellectual author of the crime. Villavicencio was shot dead after a campaign rally in Quito, and six Colombian nationals have been detained in connection with the murder. The article highlights the security lapses and threats from criminal groups, including the Cartel de Sinaloa and Los Choneros, which Villavicencio had previously reported.

Presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio assassinated in Ecuador

10 Aug 2023  |  El País México
The assassination of presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio has shocked Ecuador during the electoral campaign. President Guillermo Lasso declared a state of emergency for 60 days and mobilized the armed forces to ensure security. Six Colombian suspects have been detained. Villavicencio, a center-left candidate known for his anti-corruption stance, was shot after a campaign event in Quito. The attack is seen as an attempt to sabotage the electoral process. Lasso and other political figures condemned the crime, and the election date remains unchanged. The incident highlights the severe security crisis in Ecuador, exacerbated by organized crime linked to powerful drug cartels.

Hours of terror in Ecuador: prison massacres, kidnappings, and bombs

27 Jul 2023  |  diariocordoba.com.ar
Ecuador is experiencing a wave of violence that began on July 23 at the Litoral Penitentiary in Guayaquil, resulting in 31 dismembered and burned individuals and 14 injured. The violence spread to 13 other prisons, where inmates went on hunger strikes and took over 100 penitentiary guides hostage. The unrest spilled into the streets with vehicles being set ablaze in Guayaquil. In Esmeraldas, a bomb attack injured one person. Local authorities responded with increased police presence, suspension of classes, and telework for some public entities. The hunger strike ended after three days, and hostages were released. The crisis was attributed to a broken alliance between the Tiguerones and Lobos gangs, linked to the Mexican Jalisco New Generation cartel. President Guillermo Lasso authorized military intervention, and the government declared the operation to stop the massacre a success.

Hours of terror in Ecuador: prison massacres, kidnappings, and bombs

26 Jul 2023  |  El País
Ecuador faces a wave of violence starting July 23 with prison massacres at Penitenciaría del Litoral in Guayaquil, leading to 31 inmates dismembered and burned, and 14 injured. President Guillermo Lasso declared a state of emergency for all prisons. The violence spread to 13 other prisons with hunger strikes and over 100 penitentiary guides taken hostage. The chaos spilled into the streets with vehicles set ablaze and a bomb exploding in Esmeraldas. Local authorities responded with increased police presence, suspension of classes, and telework for some public entities. The crisis, which began with a gang alliance breakdown between Tiguerones and Lobos, was deemed under control after military intervention authorized by Lasso.

Violence escalates at the start of the electoral campaign in Ecuador: a mayor of a key port for drug trafficking is murdered

24 Jul 2023  |  elpais.com
On July 23, Agustín Intriago, the mayor of Manta, Ecuador, was assassinated during a tour of sewer works in the 15 de Septiembre neighborhood, leaving four others injured and a young athlete, Ariana Chancay, dead. Manta, a key port city for drug trafficking, has been historically significant for the transit of drugs from Colombia. The murder coincides with a tense electoral campaign and a violent weekend in Ecuador, including potential uprisings in prisons. Security expert Mario Pazmiño notes the overflow of cocaine in the country and the involvement of Mexican cartels like Sinaloa and Jalisco New Generation. The government's response to the violence and prison unrest has been criticized for lack of transparency.

Ecuador: Mayor of a key port for drug trafficking murdered

23 Jul 2023  |  diariocordoba.com.ar
On July 23, Agustín Intriago, the mayor of Manta, Ecuador, was assassinated, receiving six shots, mostly to the chest, while touring a sewer project. The attack also injured four and killed Ariana Chancay, an athlete seeking assistance for her team's uniforms. Manta, a key port for drug trafficking, has been historically significant for the transit of drugs from Colombia. The murder occurred amid heightened violence in Ecuador, including potential prison riots. Security analyst Mario Pazmiño highlighted the port's role in the drug trade, exacerbated by the pandemic. The weekend's violence also saw clashes at the Penitenciaría del Litoral in Guayaquil, with six prisoners dead and 11 injured, and prison security agents held by criminal groups.

Dozens of people were trapped for 10 hours in the Quito cable car

07 Jul 2023  |  El País México
The Quito cable car incident left 74 people stranded, with 27 trapped in cabins for ten hours. The rescue operation, involving the Quito Fire Department and Police, lasted nearly ten hours under challenging conditions. Mayor Pabel Muñoz criticized the cable car company's lack of a clear rescue protocol. The service has been suspended, and the municipality will review its permits and maintenance records.

Correísmo strengthens in the polls and awaits opponent for the second round

05 Jul 2023  |  elpais.com
Ecuador is preparing for early presidential and legislative elections on August 20, following President Guillermo Lasso's dissolution of Parliament amidst political trials. The election, activated for the first time under the 2008 Constitution's provision, sees eight candidates vying for power in a fragmented landscape, with the correísmo movement's candidate Luisa González leading in polls. The next government will only serve for 18 months, and candidates are campaigning amidst public discontent and a desire for stability. The electoral process unfolds amid fears of the El Niño phenomenon and a security crisis marked by high crime rates, pushing many Ecuadorians towards migration.

Citizens and Criminals Clash in a Brawl in Quito

22 Jun 2023  |  El País México
In Quito, Ecuador, residents of the Comité del Pueblo neighborhood clashed violently with a criminal group led by a woman known as La Pastora. The confrontation, which involved stones, sticks, and Molotov cocktails, was a response to ongoing threats and insecurity in the area. The police intervened, resulting in the death of one criminal and injury to another. Despite police efforts, the criminals returned with further threats. The incident highlights the community's frustration with persistent crime and the challenges faced by authorities in maintaining public safety. President Guillermo Lasso addressed the nation on security improvements, emphasizing the addition of 8,500 police officers.

Residents confront criminal gang in a pitched battle in capital of Ecuador

22 Jun 2023  |  english.elpais.com
On June 18, residents of Comité del Pueblo in Quito, Ecuador, clashed with a criminal gang, using rocks and Molotov cocktails. The police intervened, resulting in one gang member's death. The violence was a response to the gang's threats and a recent assault on a young woman. The gang, led by La Pastora, who has been arrested multiple times, retreated after the police's arrival but later returned to threaten the neighborhood. Despite no hard evidence against La Pastora, the gang continued to terrorize local businesses. Meanwhile, President Guillermo Lasso spoke about strengthening the police force with 8,500 new officers.

Diplomat from Ecuadorian Embassy in Panama Accused of Gender Violence

20 Jun 2023  |  El País México
Verónica Ibarra, an Ecuadorian communicator, has accused her partner, Enrique G., a senior official at the Ecuadorian Embassy in Panama, of gender violence. Ibarra, who fled her home with her children, claims the Ecuadorian government has failed to support her, despite public statements to the contrary. The Ministry of Women of Panama and local Ecuadorian residents have provided her with essential support. The Ecuadorian Embassy's suggestion for her to file a formal complaint has made her anxious due to potential legal repercussions. The case highlights the challenges faced by victims of domestic violence within diplomatic contexts.

Jan Topic, the millionaire businessman who seeks to emulate Bukele in Ecuador to the rhythm of 'Top Gun'

19 Jun 2023  |  El País México
Jan Topic, a 40-year-old businessman from Guayaquil, is running for the upcoming Ecuadorian elections with a focus on security, inspired by Nayib Bukele's policies in El Salvador. He aims to control borders, prisons, and enhance public forces to combat crime. Topic's campaign, supported by three political movements, emphasizes a non-political decision-making approach and criticizes current politicians as corrupt and ineffective. Despite acknowledging potential human rights violations under Bukele's regime, Topic admires his success in reducing homicide rates and plans to implement similar strategies in Ecuador.

A 76-year-old woman declared dead wakes up during her funeral in Ecuador

13 Jun 2023  |  english.elpais.com
Bella Montoya Castro, initially declared dead at Babahoyo hospital in Quito, Ecuador, was found to be alive during her funeral. Her son Gilber Barberán and guests heard noises from the coffin, leading to the discovery. She was taken back to the hospital and is now in intensive care with a reserved diagnosis. The Ministry of Health has initiated an investigation into the incident.

Elizabeth's Battle for Justice for Her Daughter's Femicide at the Police School in Ecuador

06 Jun 2023  |  El País México
Elizabeth Otavalo continues her fight for justice after her daughter, María Belén Bernal, was murdered by her husband, Germán Cáceres, at the Police School in Quito. Despite Cáceres receiving a 34-year sentence, Elizabeth criticizes the police and government for systemic failures and mishandling the investigation. The case has highlighted issues of police misconduct and the need for institutional reform. Interior Minister Juan Zapata acknowledges errors but defends the police, while President Guillermo Lasso's promises for accountability remain unfulfilled. Elizabeth's battle now includes ensuring Cáceres serves his sentence in a maximum-security prison and possibly taking the case to the Inter-American Court.

Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso rules himself out of re-election bid

03 Jun 2023  |  EL PAÍS English
Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso announced he will not run in the upcoming presidential elections on August 20, following his dissolution of the National Assembly on May 17. Lasso emphasized his decision was to prevent institutional usurpation, not to avoid impeachment. The electoral authority confirmed the elections, marking the first time they will be held within 90 days of invoking the mutual death provision. Several candidates, including former vice president Otto Sonnenholzner and indigenous rights activist Yaku Perez, have expressed intentions to run.

La Vampira del Raval, short 360-degree interactive documentary, reconstructs the encounters between Adelardo Fernández Arias, notorious journalist of the era known as “the Goblin of the Collegiate Church”, and Enriqueta Martí, nicknamed “The Vampire of the Suburb”, the woman who was accused of kidnapping, sexual exploitation and murder of minors at the beginning of the 20th century. These encounters will guide the viewer through a reconstruction of the case in an immersive way, transforming the viewer not only into a witness of the work but also into one of the participants of the story which, even today, has several versions and arguments. La Vampira del Raval The documentary 360 ° is my first project together with a group of filmmakers who, as Master's final project, take on the challenge of generating a proposal to explore new narrative possibilities. The documentary, 12 minutes long, can be enjoyed with Samsung Gear VR Glasses and will be available to experience both thro


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