In just 20 hours, between September 16 and 17, 10 people were murdered in the cities of Guayaquil, Durán, and Samborondón, in Ecuador’s Guayas province, reported Quito’s Radio Pinchincha. On September 19, Prosecutor Édgar Escobar of the People and Guarantees Unit in Guayaquil, “was shot […] in front of the Prosecutor’s Office La Merced building,” the Attorney General’s Office of Ecuador said via Twitter. Two suspects in Escobar’s murder were arrested.
So far this year and up to mid-September, the three cities have registered more than 1,000 violent deaths, reported Ecuadorian newspaper Primicias.
Faced with so much violence, on September 13, the Guillermo Lasso administration decided to extend the state of emergency in these cities for 30 more days, until mid-October. The measure was initially taken on August 14, when an explosion in Barrio Cristo del Consuelo, located southwest of Guayaquil, left five people dead and 17 injured, which Ecuadorian authorities qualified as a terrorist act.
Since then, authorities have recorded other explosive attacks in the province, such as a car explosion on the night of September 17 in the north of Guayaquil, and the August 22 early morning attack, with an explosive device, of a store in front of a kindergarten in the northwest of Guayaquil. According to Reuters, as of mid-August, there were some 145 explosive attacks throughout Ecuador, including 72 in Guayaquil alone.
“The renewal of the state of emergency is necessary in order to allow the continuity of efforts aimed at the pacification and control of the territories where organized crime groups have strengthened their illegal activities,” the executive order confirming the extension of the measure states.
“We will not allow organized crime to attempt to run the country,” Lasso said in August when announcing the measure via Twitter. As such, the Armed Forces the Guayas Joint Task Force formed to combat narcotrafficking and organized crime, remain in operation.
Although violence appears out of hand, the Guayas Joint Task Force has dealt heavy blows to criminal groups and its work “has been productive,” said the Presidency’s General Secretariat of Communication in a September 14 statement. Among its achievements, the force highlighted dismantling a criminal organization that engaged in robberies, assaults, and kidnappings for ransom, as well as the seizure of more than 220 firearms and more than 900 knifes since the beginning of the state of emergency, the statement said.
For its part, the National Secretariat of Public and State Security applauded the extension of the measure which allowed for indicators of violence to be contained following its implementation and for a drop in crimes, such as vehicle and property theft and robbery, among others.
For example, National Police indicators recorded a 44 percent decrease in crime, with territories that reflect a considerable decrease in crime. Meanwhile, in terms of violence, the impact is strong in Samborondón,” Dorian Balladares, a representative of the Public Safety and Order Directorate, said.
According to the statement of the Presidency’s General Secretariat of Communication, in the most problematic sectors, with the renewal of the state of emergency, strategies will be directed to maintain the frontal fight against crime and organized crime.
“We will unite efforts from all fronts to fight the underworld. We won’t give a break to criminal groups and we will continue strengthening the work of law enforcement,” Governor of Guayas Lorenzo Calvas said.