President Guillermo Lasso announced Friday he is extending the anti-crime state of emergency for 30 days. The original emergency declaration, imposed October 18 and modified by the Constitutional Court, expired Thursday.
The new state of emergency, which allows the government to suspend some civil rights, applies only to El Oro, Guayas, Santa Elena, Manabí, Los Ríos, Esmeraldas, Santo Domingo de los Tsáchilas, Pichincha and Sucumbíos Provinces. According to the presidential press office, these are the provinces most affected by the illegal drug trade which it claims is driving up local crimes rates. “We must continue our fight against local and international drug organizations to protect the citizens of Ecuador,” the government said in a press release. “The recent deaths at Litoral Prison and the bombing of the radar installation in Manabí Province show that this fight is far from over.”
The statement said that the number of murders in Guayaquil, Manta and other coastal communities affected by the drug trade have doubled since 2019, with almost all of the increase due to drug activity.
The Constitutional Court ruled that Lasso’s original state of emergency, imposed for 60 days and for the entire country, was not justified and reduced it to 30 days and said it could apply only to nine provinces which have experienced the largest increase in crime.
Prison gang leaders to be isolated
Defense Minister Luis Hernández said Friday that leaders of gangs operating in the country’s prisons will be segregated so they can be more closely monitored. “We are engaged in psychological warfare with the leadership of the gangs in the prison system and we must separate them from other inmates to reduce their influence,” he said. “We are focusing especially on the Los Lobos and Los Choneros organizations because of their ties to Mexican drug cartels.”
Hernández added that the military’s role maintain prison security is temporary. “It is not the job of the armed forces or the police to manage and keep order in the prisons but it is necessary until institutional changes can be made.”
National Geographic includes Yasuní National Park in ‘Top 25’ list
Ecuador’s Yasuní National Park has been included in National Geographic magazine’s top destinations to visit in 2022. Located in the Amazon jungle, Yasuní has been called the “world’s most bio-diverse park.” In 2016, a consortium of international biologists reported that the park contained more animal and plant species per hectare than any other area on earth.
Among the wildlife in the park are Andean bears, capibaras, giant sloths, spider monkeys, the Amazon River dolphin and more than 600 species of birds. The Yasuní National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is flanked by the Napo and Curaray rivers in the northeastern part of Ecuador.
Government signs two mining deals
The government signed mining agreements Friday it says will generate $466 million in revenue over three years. According to Minister of Energy Juan Carlos Bermeo, Australia’s SolGold will develop the Cascabel mining concession in Imbabura Province while Canada Lumina Gold will operate the Cangrejos mine in El Oro Province.
At a signing ceremony in Quito, President Guillermo Lasso said the two deals are part of the “Ecuador Open for Business” initiative he is promoting to attract international investment.