Ecuadorian Presidential Candidate Fernando Villavicencio Fatally Shot During Political Rally
Fernando Villavicencio, a 59-year-old Ecuadorian politician known for his vocal stance against government corruption, was tragically shot and killed by an unidentified gunman while attending a political rally in Quito.
This disturbing incident unfolds against the backdrop of a concerning surge in violence within the country, marked by escalating drug trafficking and violent incidents.
Guillermo Lasso, the current president, has suggested that an organized criminal group may be responsible for this assassination.
Although Mr. Villavicencio was one of the eight candidates in the upcoming presidential election on August 20th, he was not leading in the race.
In response to the tragedy, President Lasso conveyed his resolve in a statement, stating, “I assure you that this crime will not go unpunished. Organized crime has overstepped its boundaries, but they will face the full extent of the law.”
Ecuador’s attorney general’s office reported that a suspect linked to the assassination died from injuries sustained while being apprehended by authorities.
Social media videos appear to capture the moments leading up to the incident, showing the candidate surrounded by security guards. The footage then documents Villavicencio entering a white truck, followed by the sound of gunfire. This sequence of events was corroborated by Patricio Zuquilanda, an advisor to Mr. Villavicencio’s campaign.
Zuquilanda shared that the candidate had received death threats prior to the shooting, which he promptly reported to authorities. One such threat resulted in an arrest.
He called upon international bodies to intervene against the violence, attributing it to drug trafficking, and expressed his grief, stating, “The Ecuadorian people are mourning, and Ecuador is gravely wounded. Political disagreements should never escalate to the loss of any member of our society.”
Police have confirmed several casualties, including law enforcement officers, categorizing the incident as a terrorist act, and pledging to fully investigate the matter.
Fernando Villavicencio, aged 59, represented the Build Ecuador Movement as a candidate. Known for his persistent opposition to corruption, particularly during the tenure of former president Rafael Correa from 2007 to 2017, Villavicencio filed numerous legal complaints against high-ranking officials in the Correa administration.