Foreign Minister claims the fight against crime is a success, defends government strategy

Mar 18, 2024 | 0 comments

Foreign Minister Gabriela Sommerfeld said Saturday that Ecuador is experiencing a “vastly improved crime scenario” in 2024 compared to 2023. “The United Nations just reported the impressive progress we have made in combatting illegal drug crime,” she said Saturday in an interview with Guayaquil newspaper Expreso. “It is good see our efforts being recognized.”

Foreign Minister Gabriela Sommerfeld

“The number of murders in Ecuador has reduced 60% through the first two weeks of March compared to the same period of 2023,” Sommerfeld said. “The citizens are seeing concrete progress in our operations and they are also seeing success within the legal system to confront the corruption behind the crime.”

Asked if the success will continue after the 90-day emergency ends in April, Sommerfeld said she believed it would. “The current levels of crime reduction are extraordinary and probably cannot be maintained but we think that overall, the improvement will continue,” she said. “The drug gangs and cartels have been put on notice that we will go after them and find them wherever they are. We have arrested many of their people and these arrests will continue.”

She added: “We have disrupted their supply lines and their communication networks, destroyed their clandestine landings strips and affected their access to the ports.”

Sommerfeld said that the armed forces will continue to work with police after the emergency ends. “There has been misinformation that military personnel will be withdrawn from law enforcement operations and the prisons after 90 days but this is not true. Action by the National Assembly and a ruling by the Constitutional Court allows us to continue use of the military in our operations.”

Responding to charges that the government has not been transparent about its strategy, the Foreign Minister said there is information that “is not appropriate” to make public. “A mistake made by previous governments was to reveal details of operational plans and we are not making that mistake. Why tip off the criminals to what we plan to do? Our strategy relies on confidential information and the element of surprise. That is one reason we have been successful.”

What if she is wrong and crime returns to previous levels at the end of the emergency period, the interviewer asked. “I don’t expect that to happen but if it does, we have the option of declaring a new emergency. We will do whatever is necessary to improve the safety of Ecuadorians.”

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