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Montevideo, July 18th 2024 - 11:17 UTC



Kidnapped Ecuadorian councilman found dead

Saturday, September 9th 2023 - 09:42 UTC
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Vera had been elected councilman of Durán for the 2023-2027 period Vera had been elected councilman of Durán for the 2023-2027 period

Councilman Bolívar Vera, 42, of the municipality of Durán was kidnapped and murdered in a new episode of Ecuador's political violence saga one month ahead of the presidential runoff. Vera's body was found Friday on a road in the rural sector of Salitre with his hands tied in the province of Guayas, it was also reported. He had been reported missing on Thursday, Sept. 7.

Interior Minister Juan Zapata confirmed the crime after the victim was intercepted Thursday on his way to a Cantonal Council session. Vera was elected councilman of Durán for the 2023-2027 period.

Vera's murder took place amid a 60-day state of exception decreed by President Guillermo Lasso in a move to curb violence, particularly in the coastal provinces, where homicides are projected to reach all-time highs by the end of the year.

Durán civil servant Miguel Santos Burgos plus his cab driver and a motorcycle guard were also murdered on Aug. 3 while Mayor Luis Chonillo left the country fearing for his life after an attack following his election to office.

National Electoral Councilman José Cabrera Zurita said he had also been threatened and urged Chairwoman Diana Atamaint to file a complaint. ”Why? (...) Both the vice-president (of the CNE, Enrique Pita) and I have asked the president (Atamaint) to file the respective complaints to the necessary agencies,” said Zurita in a radio interview. He added that the intimidations were linked to an unfounded presumption that there would be irregularities during the second electoral round.

Durán is considered by the police to be the third most violent city in Ecuador after Guayaquil and Esmeraldas, in the north, where gangs sponsored by Mexican and Colombian cartels are said to be operating with relative impunity.

Ecuador's violence was at first limited to prison scuffles but it has spread onto the streets where assassinations by hitmen, extortion, kidnappings, and robberies are commonplace.

On June 23, Agustín Intriago, mayor of Manta, the country's third most populated city, was assassinated while attending a works review, and presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio was shot dead as he was leaving a political rally on Aug. 9 north of Quito.

Ecuadorian Police's National Anti-Crime Investigation Unit (UIAD) made four arrests in the Social Rehabilitation Centers (prisons) of El Inca (Quito) and Cotopaxi (Latacunga) in connection with Villavicencio's murder.

”As a result of the operation, four arrest warrants were executed in the Social Rehabilitation Centers of El Inca (Quito) and Cotopaxi (Latacunga),” the Public Prosecutor's Office said through a statement. Two other arrests were made in the south of Quito, it was also reported.

Categories: Politics, Latin America.

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