Ecuador ranks 3rd in Latin America for refugees; Gang attack leaves six dead in Guayaquil; Expat turns violent during eviction; Presidential tickets set

Jun 21, 2023 | 46 comments

Refugees and displaced persons from other countries make up more than 3.2% of Ecuador’s population, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The country ranks only behind Colombia and Peru in refugees in Latin America as a proportion of population.

The largest group of refugees in Ecuador are from Venezuela, UNHCR says, numbering about 505,000. The total is an increase from the previous estimate of 450,000, and UNHCR says the number may continue to grow. “Despite some signs of improvement in the economic and political situation in Venezuela, the overall picture there remains bleak, prompting a continuing net outflow of people,” it says.

Refugees enter Ecuador at the Colombian border.

In addition to Venezuelans, Ecuador is home to approximately 90,000 Colombians escaping violence and poverty in the southern region of their country. Ecuador’s Foreign Ministry reports that 74,000 Colombians have gained permanent residency or official refugee status.

The UNHCR estimates that an estimated 180,000 Ecuadorians have left the country since early 2021 and are currently living in the United States or other Latin American countries.

Cities with the largest refugee populations in Ecuador are Quito, Guayaquil, Santo Domingo and Cuenca.

Gang attack leaves six dead in Guayaquil
Six people were killed and eight wounded in an apparent gang shootout in Guayaquil on Monday. Regional Police Commander Marcelo Castillo said the attack was most likely an act of revenge related to an earlier shooting that claimed five lives. He said the gangs involved are part of the illegal drug trade at Guayaquil ports.

The office of the National Police said the wounded and taken to local hospitals with two reported to be in critical condition. As of Tuesday afternoon, no arrests have been made.

Castillo said the attackers arrived in a black vehicle in a populated south Guayaquil neighborhood early Monday. “Four or five got out” and opened fire on an outdoor breakfast cafe. “It is pure retaliation for previous acts of violence,” he said. “They kill each other without mercy.”

He added that one of those killed had a record of “criminal association” and one of the wounded had previously been arrestred for drug trafficking.

Elections Council approves two presidential tickets
The National Electoral Council has cleared the presidential candidacies of Fernando Villavicencio of the Construye party and Luisa González of Citizens Revolution.

On Friday, the CNE announced that information was missing on the applications from the two parties, temporarily disqualifying their candidates. On Tuesday night, the Council said revised applications have been submitted by the two parties and accepted.

In total, eight presidential tickets have been approved by CNE for the August 20 cross death election.

Expat turns violent during eviction
Police were called Monday afternoon to an Av. Ordóñez Lasso condominium when a U.S. citizen refused to comply with an eviction notice. The 61-year-old man was identified as John Eric L., formerly a resident of the U.S. state of Colorado.

According to condominium management, John Eric L. became violent when he was led out of his apartment by an agent for the owner, who lives in Spain. “He hit the agent twice before he was subdued and later refused to leave the building,” said Juan Carlos Ortiz, a building security guard. “Police were called for assistance and they were successful in removing the man from the property.”

According to the police report, the eviction followed numerous complaints from residents of loud music and shouting from John Eric L.’s apartment. Building management also claimed he was bringing in sex workers, sometimes three at a time, and that the women did not have working permits from the Ministry of Health. Management also claimed the women stole a number of items from the condominium lobby.

Before he was escorted off the premises, John Eric L. was allowed to return to the apartment with police to collect what he said was heart medication that was “critical for his health”. The officer reported, however, that the medication John Eric L. retrieved was Caverta, a treatment for erectile dysfunction.

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