What is occurring in Ecuador? 
Is there a surge in violence?

Ecuador’s Fight Against Violence: A Battle Against Criminal Organizations and Systemic Corruption

In recent months, Ecuador has seen a surge in violence that has prompted President Daniel Noboa to declare an internal armed conflict on January 9. This declaration was made in response to three massacres carried out by hitmen that resulted in the deaths of 17 people and injuries to dozens more. The Attorney General’s Office of Ecuador issued a statement warning of attempts by criminal organizations to destabilize the country and obstruct ongoing investigations.

The state of emergency, originally imposed for 60 days in January, was extended for an additional 30 days on March 8. It is unclear whether it will be extended further on April 8. The emergency measures militarized the streets of violent cities in Ecuador to combat gangs, which were designated as terrorists. Despite these efforts, criminal activity continued to persist, leading to a new wave of violence over the weekend.

Between January and March 2024, the Ministry of the Interior and the National Police reported an increase in extortions and kidnappings, especially in the city of Guayaquil where the number of cases quintupled. The escalation of violence culminated in three massacres over the weekend, including an attack on Ecuadorian tourists in the province of Manabi and two separate incidents in Guayaquil.

The first massacre involved the kidnapping and killing of six adults and five children, with one survivor rescued by the police. The attackers were believed to be targeting rival gang members but mistakenly targeted the tourists. The second attack in Guasmo resulted in the deaths of nine people, and the third incident in Guayaquil left at least three dead and three injured.

Authorities have made arrests in connection with these crimes, seizing weapons from suspects linked to criminal organizations. However, challenges remain in addressing structural issues such as corruption within Ecuador’s legal system that contribute to ongoing security problems.

Despite these challenges, President Noboa remains committed to combating crime through his use of military force and law enforcement tactics such as increased patrols and surveillance cameras.

It remains uncertain what impact this surge in violence will have on Ecuador’s future stability as it continues its efforts to address underlying issues such as corruption within its legal system.

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