Ecuador’s presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio, a staunch anti-corruption advocate, was shot dead on Wednesday (August 9) in the country’s capital Quito. Ecuador’s President Guillermo Lasso confirmed via social media platform X that Villavicencio has been killed. He said in a statement, “I assure you that this crime will not go unpunished.”
“Organised crime has gone too far, but they will feel the full weight of the law,” he added. The incident has shone a spotlight on the increasing violence in the nation.
Campaign rally turns fatal
On August 9, a campaign event in northern Quito took an unexpected turn as Villavicencio was shot dead mid-campaign. The attorney general’s office said on X, the suspect in the killing of the politician and former lawmaker has died from injuries sustained during the shootout that led to his capture. Villavicencio’s party Movimiento Construye stated that armed men attacked its Quito offices.
Unity amidst grief
Following the news of Villavicencio’s assassination, his fellow candidates set aside their political differences to express their condolences and shock. In video messages, they deplored the act of violence.
The man behind the name
Fernando Villavicencio, aged 59, was the candidate for the Build Ecuador Movement and a former lawmaker. Known for his stance against corruption, Villavicencio was also a critic of former Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa. He was sentenced to 18 months in prison for defamation over statements made against the former president. He was married and is survived by five children.
Ecuador’s struggle with violence
President Guillermo Lasso’s hint that the organised crime could be behind Villavicencio’s assassination throws light on Ecuador’s escalating violence. The country has witnessed a surge in crime, largely fuelled by drug trafficking activities. Presidential candidate, Otto Sonnenholzner, also shed light on growing violence in Ecuador as he talked about Villavicencio assassination. He stated:
“…..So far this year, there are over 3,000 Ecuadoreans already that have suffered the same fate. Over 3,000 families have felt this pain, which nobody deserves. To the government – we don’t want more meetings, we don’t want more statements. We demand action. There are three months left to this government, act on it (violence). We’re dying, we’re drowning in a sea of blood and tears.”
As per local media, Villavicencio, though not a frontrunner, had been polling at 7.5% voting intention.
(With inputs from Reuters)