Shock in Ecuador: presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio was murdered

Fernando Villavicencio

The presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio was assassinated this Wednesday afternoon in Quito. The candidate and former legislator were at a political rally in the north center of the city. According to the videos and witnesses to the event, Villavicencio was attacked by hitmen who fired several times at him.

Six people were arrested for allegedly being involved in this crime. The arrests were made during a series of raids carried out in Conocoto and San Bartolo, two neighborhoods of the Ecuadorian capital, according to the Prosecutor’s Office through its official channels.

The president of Ecuador, Guillermo Lasso, confirmed that the candidate was assassinated: “For his memory and for his fight, I assure you that this crime will not go unpunished,” he wrote. In addition, Lasso said he felt “outraged and dismayed.” The president said that he urgently convened the State Security Council to assess what happened. He closed his message on Twitter, assuring that: “Organized crime has come a long way, but the full weight of the law will fall on them.”

The government announced that the activities scheduled for August 10, 2023, in commemoration of the First Cry of Independence, were suspended due to the murder, according to the General Secretariat of Communication of the Presidency.

The Construye 25 movement, which supported Villavicencio’s candidacy, reported on the night of this August 9 that there is a violent incursion into its headquarters in Quito: “Armed men are currently attacking our campaign offices in Quito.”

The Minister of the Interior, Juan Zapata, also announced that the candidate did not survive the attack. Likewise, people close to Villavicencio, such as the journalist and friend, Christian Zurita, published the news of his death: “They killed my friend,” he wrote.

The doctor Carlos Figueroa who accompanied Villavicencio during his exile in the jungle, during the persecution of correísmo, also confirmed the news and wrote that the time of death was 6:45 p.m. (local time).

The director of investigations of the Ecuadorian Police, Alain Luna, described the assassination of the candidate as a terrorist act. In addition, he reported that there were controlled detonations of explosives that were left in the place where the rally that Villavicencio was at took place.

During his two years as a congressman, Villavicencio (59 years old) dedicated himself to supervising several corruption cases that occurred during the mandate of Rafael Correa, who persecuted him during his government until Villavicencio had to take refuge in the jungle with an indigenous community.Fernando Villavicencio was persecuted by correísmo.  His investigations led to the sentencing of former President Rafael Correa and other leaders of that party.  (REUTERS/Karen Toro)Fernando Villavicencio was persecuted by correísmo. His investigations led to the sentencing of former President Rafael Correa and other leaders of that party. (REUTERS/Karen Toro)

On May 19, the Construye 25 movement, led by former government minister María Paula Romo, announced its support for Villavicencio’s candidacy. Before entering politics, Villavicencio was engaged in investigative journalism. His publications on the Arroz Verde case, as he called the corruption plot that included bribes to finance the extinct Alianza País party, was key to the opening of the judicial investigation that ended in the sentencing of some correísta leaders, including former president Rafael Correa. , its vice president and other of its officials.

Villavicencio participated together with Andrea González Nader, a young woman from Guayaquil linked to environmental activism.

The news about the assassination of the candidate has shaken the country. Villavicencio and his team had received threats during this electoral campaign. Said threats were linked to the Los Choneros gang and its ringleader, alias Fito, according to his campaign team and according to Villavicencio in various local media. Before him, he also suffered attacks, so, from his side as a legislator, he had police security. As seen in the videos recorded by witnesses, the police officers who responded to the attack were also injured. Nine people were reportedly injured, including a candidate for assembly and two police officers, according to the State Attorney’s Office.

Luisa González, a candidate for the Revolución Ciudadana movement related to former President Rafael Correa, said she felt indignant at the murder of Villavicencio: “It is with indignation that I receive the terrible news of the attack that caused the death of Fernando Villavicencio, this brings us all to mourning, my hug Solidarity to all his family and coidearios. This vile act will not go unpunished!” she wrote.Message from Guillermo Lasso, President of Ecuador, about the murder of candidate Fernando Villavicencio.Message from Guillermo Lasso, President of Ecuador, about the murder of candidate Fernando Villavicencio.

Less than a day after his murder, Villavicencio posted a reel on his Instagram account where he mentioned the candidate González: “Here I am Mrs. Luisa González… They have told me to wear a (bulletproof) vest. Here I am (with the) sweaty shirt… You are my bulletproof vest, ”said the candidate during a rally in Chone, Manabí. Villavicencio was considered the anti-correista candidate.

The candidate Otto Sonneholzner mourned the death of his contender on Twitter and wrote: “Our deepest condolences and deep solidarity with the loved ones of Fernando Villavicencio. May God keep him in his glory. Our country has gotten out of hand.”

Jan Topic, also a candidate for the Presidency, did the same: “My condolences to his family and solidarity with his followers and friends. Today more than ever, the need to act with a strong hand against crime is reiterated ”, he published.

Manuela Picq, wife and campaign manager of the candidate Yaku Pérez, announced on Twitter that they will suspend the presidential campaign. She described the attack as a “cowardly murder” and assured that the act “is a murder of democracy. We stand in solidarity with their loved ones and supporters. Ecuador can’t take it anymore.”