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Montevideo, June 24th 2024 - 18:53 UTC



Ecuador: Life slowly getting back to normal

Friday, January 12th 2024 - 10:31 UTC
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Some 178 corrections officers are still held hostage by drug-trafficking gangs as authorities massively search for alias Fito Some 178 corrections officers are still held hostage by drug-trafficking gangs as authorities massively search for alias Fito

Ecuadorean authorities Thursday confirmed drug-trafficking gangs continued to have a total of 178 hostages in prisons nationwide while the number of casualties after four days of internal turmoil was updated to 16 as the outlaws retaliated following law enforcement forces operations. In this scenario, daily life is gradually getting back to normal.

President Daniel Noboa pledged to “never give in to evil, always fight tirelessly.”

On Tuesday, gangs stormed a TV station in Guayaquil during a live broadcast threatening workers with firearms and explosives. Two journalists were wounded in the process but no deaths resulted from the event where 13 suspects were arrested although broadcasting was halted.

“They wanted to instill fear, but they aroused our anger. They thought they would subdue an entire country and forgot that the armed forces are trained for war,” Defense Minister Gian Carlo Loffredo said on social networks.

Following orders from the 36-year-old Noboa, in office since November, over 22,400 troops were deployed on land, air, and sea, in addition to street searches, prison raids, and curfews.

The crisis began on Sunday when drug lord Adolfo Macias, alias “Fito”, head of the criminal gang Los Choneros, escaped from a Guayaquil correctional facility, which triggered riots in prisons nationwide.

On Wednesday night, the death toll rose to 16, following a fire in a discotheque that killed two people and injured nine. Police called the event a terrorist attack. “If they mess with the population, they mess with the Armed Forces,” Loffredo insisted.

Activity has resumed gradually in the country's main cities. However, many businesses remain closed, public transport is running less frequently than usual, universities and schools are holding classes virtually, and most people work from their homes.

”We are afraid, afraid that the least expected (moment) they will do the same thing again,“ Ines Macas, a 69-year-old housewife who reported looting in the capital, told AFP.

Hundreds of soldiers and police are searching for Fito, while a state of emergency is in force nationwide in addition to a six-hour curfew starting at 11 pm local time.

Former President Rafael Correa asked Noboa ”not to give in“ to the pressure of organized crime and proposed the creation of a government of national unity to address the security crisis facing Ecuador, which he described as a failed state.

”The first thing I would have done is to surround myself with the best team of people and that is part of the proposal we have made to Noboa for this support: that he can count on us, on our former officials with tremendously successful experience, with our legislative bloc,” Correa told EFE from Belgium, where he resides.

Categories: Politics, Latin America.
Tags: Ecuador, violence.

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