Ecuadorian presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio was fatally shot on Wednesday, causing shock and leading to a 60-day national state of emergency and military activation, with elections still scheduled for August 20.
Assassination Details: 59-year-old Fernando Villavicencio, known for his outspoken stance against government corruption and drug trafficking, was shot after exiting a campaign rally.
* Before his death, Villavicencio had reported receiving death threats and characterized Ecuador as a “narco state”.
* His sister, Alexandra Villavicencio, claims the government is responsible for her brother’s death and alleges a larger assassination plot.
National Reaction: Ecuador is plunged into shock following the assassination, which is unprecedented in its modern political history.
* President Guillermo Lasso responded to the event by declaring a 60-day national state of emergency and mobilizing the military to combat gangs.
Election Implications: Despite the incident, the presidential elections are still scheduled for August 20, says National Electoral Council head Diana Atamaint.
* Villavicencio was considered a potential contender for the second place in the race, which could have triggered a runoff vote.
Analyzing the Situation: Will Freeman, a fellow for Latin American Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, discusses the predicament Ecuador is facing.
* Freeman attributes the escalating violence to factors such as the country’s strategic position between Colombia and Peru — two of the world’s largest cocaine producers, its dollarized economy which facilitates money laundering, and its recent struggle with COVID-19, which has caused poverty and increased potential recruits for organized crime.
Moving Forward: President Guillermo Lasso is collaborating with the FBI for further investigations into Villavicencio’s assassination.
* Freeman emphasizes the need to uncover if there was any political motive behind the assassination as it is vital for determining the next steps.
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