Foreign

August 10, 2023

Ecuador’s presidential candidate shot dead at campaign rally

Ecuador’s presidential candidate shot dead at campaign rally

Mr Fernando Villavicencio, a candidate in Ecuador’s forthcoming presidential election and member of the national assembly has been shot dead at a campaign rally.

Villavicencio, who has campaigned against corruption and gangs in Ecuador, was attacked as he left the capital, Quito, on Wednesday, according to BBC. 

He is one of the few candidates to allege that has been links between organised crime and government officials in the South American country.

Meanwhile, a criminal gang called Los Lobos (The Wolves) has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Los Lobos is the second-largest gang in Ecuador with some 8,000 members, many of whom are behind bars.

The gang has been involved in a number of recent deadly prison fights, in which scores of inmates have been brutally killed.

A break-away faction from the Los Choneros gang, Los Lobos is believed to have links to the Mexico-based Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG), for which it traffics cocaine.

Villacencio was not the first politician to be assassinated as the mayor of the city of Manta was shot dead, last month.

Also, in February, a candidate for mayor in the city of Puerto López was killed, BBC said.

But the shooting of a presidential candidate at a public event in the capital was the most brazen attack as a burst of gunfire could be heard as the 59-year-old was getting into a car outside the building where, just moments before, he had been meeting voters.

Villavicencio’s uncle, Galo Valencia, described the moment his nephew was killed: “We were just a few meters from the school when we were hit by a hail of about 40 bullets.”

Valencia said his nephew had been hit by three bullets in the head.