Annual crime rate drops 31%; Ban on UK travelers is rejected; Police say illegal gatherings at record high; Moreno rejects U.S. capitol violence, blames Trump

Jan 7, 2021 | 116 comments

Ecuador’s overall crime rate dropped 31 percent in 2020 compared to 2019, despite increases in Guayaquil and Quito. In its annual report on crime, the National Police noted that curfews and other restrictions related to the coronavirus pandemic were largely responsible for the improvement. The reduction in crime is the largest, year over year, ever reported by National Police.

National Police arrest a robbery suspect in Quito.

The one category showing a significant increase was murder, which increased by 15 percent, almost all of it due to increases in the incidence of domestic violence.

The report said that there is an “incorrect assumption” by the public that crime is increasing and this is the result of social media video postings. “It is a worldwide problem that postings on such platforms as Facebook and WhatsApp lead to a belief that crime is rampant and this is not the case,” the police say. “There has been an exponential increase in the number of private security cameras in use and these capture images of crimes in progress that give the impression of an increase in criminal activity.”

Police reported that 8,558 knives and 5,696 firearms were seized during arrests in 2020.

In its report, police said that the pandemic may have led to underreporting of some robberies, particularly those committed on the street.

Moreno rejects violence at U.S. Capitol
President Republic Lenin Moreno has issued a statement “rejecting acts of violence perpetrated Wednesday in Washington, D.C.,” and urged respect for the law and the peaceful transition of presidential authority. He asked that any Ecuadorian citizens living in or visiting Washington to avoid conflict zones. Four people died Wednesday as protesters overwhelmed police and entered the U.S. capitol by force.

In his statement, Moreno said that it was regrettable that the violence was encouraged by President Donald Trump. “His actions and statements are the height of irresponsibility for a public official,” he said.

People are ignoring social distancing rules, ‘having too much fun’
Cuenca municipal and Nation Police say the number of large gatherings reported and broken up is on the increase. According to the Citizen Guard, 1,109 large public and private gatherings were reported from December 23 to January 4, a record for a two week period.

In addition to the large gatherings at city markets, particularly Feria Libre and 9 de Octubre, the Guard says more than 40 parties were broken up, many of them involving sports activity, all of them involving the consumption of alcoholic beverages.

In a statement, the Guard advised young people to avoid attending large events, especially parties. “There are no problem having fun but youth must remember that having too much fun with large groups can endanger their own health and the health of others during the pandemic.”

Travel ban on UK travelers denied
The government said Wednesday that it will not impose a ban on travelers from Great Britain or South Africa. Health Minister Juan Carlos Zevallos said that such a ban is not currently justified given technical and scientific data about new variants of the Covid-19 virus. He said Ecuador will maintain its requirement that all international air travelers enter Ecuador with a negative Covid test result or face a 10-day quarantine.

Zevallos’ statement was a response to Guayaquil Mayor Cynthia Viteri who had asked the government fo a ban on UK travelers arriving by air.