Calm returns following Noboa’s ‘shoot to kill’ order; Former opponents voice support for government

Jan 10, 2024 | 0 comments

The National Police command reported a “return of normality” for most of the country early Wednesday morning. “Most sectors did not experience elevated criminal activity overnight,” the command said in a statement. “There were several incidents in Quito and Guayaquil but these may not be connected to the criminal gang activity of Monday and Tuesday.”

Chief of Ecuador’s Joint Military Command, Jaime Vela, said deployment of the armed forces is underway.

No gang-related incidents were reported in Cuenca Tuesday or Tuesday night following the detonation of three explosive devices in garbage cans Monday night. The calm came after Cuenca Mayor Cristian Zamora and Azuay Province Prefect Juan Cristóbal complained of “public hysteria” created by rumors Tuesday afternoon.  As in most of the country, schools, public offices, businesses and public transportation suspended operations early in the city.

In Tuesday night messages, most public and private offices and schools announced they would not open Wednesday and would conduct business and classes virtually.

On Tuesday afternoon, President Daniel Noboa raised the level of the national emergency following Monday’s and Tuesday’s violence. He claimed Ecuador was in a “state of internal armed conflict” and authorized the police and armed forces to “shoot to kill” gang members committing criminal acts. In his order, he named 21 criminal gangs he called “enemies of Ecuador.”

Following his orders, military personnel took to the streets in the country’s larger cities, including Cuenca.

In a news conference after Noboa’s announcement, Chief of Ecuador’s Joint Military Command, Jaime Vela, said the armed forces stood ready to “fight the terrorists.” Flanked by Government and Interior Minister Mónica Palencia, Defense Minister Giancarlo Loffredo and Public Administration Secretary Arturo Félix, Vela announced that the deployment of military personnel was underway around the country.

Vela concluded his prepared statement by exclaiming: “Vinceremos,” or “we will win.”

Noboa’s revised orders received widespread public support, including from former opponents. Among those expressing support were former presidential candidate Jan Topic, former president Rafael Correa, leader of the Social Christian party Jaime Nebot, Guayaquil Mayor Achiles Alvarez, Quito Mayor Pabel Muñoz and former government minister Paula Romo.

Topic, who criticized the government on Monday for being “unprepared” to confront narco terrorists, said Noboa’s Tuesday order “corresponded” to the threat. “I am supporting him in this action since all the country’s security forces must be united in this effort,” he said on social media. “Now is the time to put politicking aside so we can rescue the country we love so much.”

Nebot and Correa sent similar messages. “President Noboa’s decision to decree his internal armed conflict order is the correct one,” Nebot said. “We must put an end to the lawlessness and restore order.”

Correa blamed the governments of Lenín Moreno and Guillermo Lasso for criminal gang violence. “Organized crime has declared war on the state and the state must be victorious,” he said. “It is time for national unity and I stand with the president in this effort.”

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