Ecuador’s birthrate plummets; Body snatchers steal gang leader’s corpse; Journalist gets death threats
The estimate that Ecuador’s population would top 18 million in the 2022 census will fall “significantly short,” say officials at the Institute of Statistics and Census. Census numbers are scheduled to be released next week.
INEC Director Roberto Castillo said a sharp drop in births caught demographers by surprise. “Based on our projections, we anticipated a population of 18 million to 18.5 million with the new count, but it appears we will come in at about 17.5 million or slightly below,” he said. “Much of the difference is explained by the fact we had 600,000 fewer births since 2010 than we expected.” Castillo said he was “shocked” by census data showing the country’s birthrate has fallen to 1.86 per couple, below the 2.1 per couple population replacement level.
In 1970, says Castillo, an Ecuadorian couple had an average of six children. By 2000, the number had dropped to 3.25, falling further to 2.64 in 2010. “The 1.86 birthrate indicates we are following the trend in Europe and North America of falling below the accepted replacement rate.”
Castillo believes several factors are to blame for the lower birthrate, including the rising age of childbearing women and an increase in divorces. Other factors for the lower census count include deaths caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, migration out of the country and biological issues reducing the rate of conception. In particular, he cites the 60% worldwide decline in male sperm count since 1970, a trend experts blame on environmental factors.
Body of gang leader leader snatched from cemetery
The body of Ecuadorian gang leader Junior Roldán was stolen Monday night from a Colombian cemetery, police report. The leader the Los Choneros, a gang connected with dozens of murders, bombings and prison riots in Ecuador, was killed in May and his unclaimed body was placed in a cemetery vault in the town of Envigado.
Roldán had fled to Colombia after surviving two earlier attempts on his life in Ecuador.
Police suspect Roldán was killed by his bodyguard who stole cash the gang leader had taken with him when he went into hiding, but no arrests have been made.
On Tuesday, workers found a gate to the cemetery open and when they searched the grounds they noticed that one of the vaults was empty. Police later confirmed that it contained Roldán body.
Columnist receives death threat for criticizing González
Economist and newspaper columnist Walter Spurrier is the target of threats on his life after writing an article critical of Citizens Revolution presidential candidate Luisa González. The article “Venezuela, better than Ecuador?” was published Sunday in the Guayaquil newspaper El Universo.
Spurrier criticized González’s comments that Venezuela had a stronger economy and lower crime rate than Ecuador. “One of the messages I received amounted to a death threat,” Spurrier said. “It is the first time in my professional career I have been threatened like this.”
González’s presidential runoff opponent Daniel Noboa also responded to her comparisons of Venezuela and Ecuador, calling them “crazy and based on hallucinations.” He pointed out that Venezuela’s murder rate is 70% higher than Ecuador’s and that its poverty level is almost double. “Venezuela’s inflation rate of 400% is the highest in the world and keeps the population impoverished,” Noboa said. “We have problems in Ecuador but they do not approach those of Venezuela.”
González has since walked back some of her claims, saying she meant to “emphasize certain aspects of life in Venezuela.”