Lawyer for vice president’s son demands answers from government; Noboa, armed forces maintain high popularity; Court approves new emergency

Mar 27, 2024 | 0 comments

The attorney for Francisco Barreiro, son of Vice President Verónica Abad, is demanding to know why Barreiro is being held in a maximum-security prison in Guayaquil and suggests the decision is politically motivated. Barreiro was arrested Thursday in Cuenca, charged with influence peddling and attempting to extort money from an employee of the vice president’s office.

Following his arraignment hearing, Barreiro was transferred to the Guayas No. 3 Men’s Social Rehabilitation Center, commonly known as Las Roca.

President Daniel Noboa

“My client is charged with a financial crime, not murder, kidnapping or running a drug organization, and we are trying to determine why he is being detained in a facility with the most violent criminals in the country,” says Oswaldo Trujillo. “He should be allowed to serve his pretrial detention in Cuenca, near his home. The judge did not order him to La Roca.”

Trujillo said he believes Barreiro’s placement in La Roca is the result President Daniel Noboa’s “vendetta” against Abad, from whom he has been estranged since the election. “I won’t say this was ordered by the president directly, but it certainly appears it was carried out to intimidate the vice president,” he said.

Because of what Noboa calls “political disagreements,” Abad was sent to Israel to serve as ambassador in November.

The prison authority, the National Service for the Comprehensive Care of Adults Deprived of Liberty (SNAI), which is responsible for pre-trial placement of criminal suspects, says its decision was based on “security concerns”.

Noboa and armed forces maintain high popularity
Although his numbers have dropped from early January, President Daniel Noboa remains popular with most Ecuadorians, according to recent polls. In a poll taken by the Cedatos / Gallup public opinion group in mid-March, Noboa has a 77% positive rating. Ecuadorians also give the country’s armed forces high approval, at 90%.

A March 19 poll by Perfiles de Opinión also shows high support of Noboa, with 74% of respondents saying is doing an “excellelnt” or “good” job as president. In the second week of January, a Cedatos poll gave Noboa an 84% positive rating while a Perfiles poll showed 82% support.

According to Cedatos president Ángel Polibio, Noboa’s drop in popularity was expected. “The January numbers reflected his decision to invoke emergency measures to fight criminal organizations as well as his order to involve the military in law enforcement and prison control,” he says. “As events play out, the initial enthusiasm is tempered, and the poll numbers adjust accordingly.”

Polibio believes Noboa’s number will continue to drop as next year’s national election approaches. “It is unsustainable to keep positive numbers above 80% or even 70% in Ecuador,” he says. “His popularity has been unprecedented due to unusual political and social circumstances. His current numbers are very good and put him in good position for reelection.”

On other Cedatos poll questions, Ecuadorians continue to rate crime and security their number one concern, at 43%, with unemployment and poverty following at 20% and 13.6%.

Constitutional Court approves emergency declaration
The Constitutional Court on Tuesday approved President Daniel Noboa’s 30-day extension of the national state of emergency. The court agreed that conditions of criminality and violence justify the curtailment of some civil rights as well as the use of the armed forces against criminal gangs.

The court also agreed that the use of armed forces to maintain order in country’s prisons was justified under terms of the emergency.

The emergency extension was ordered on March 7 and is scheduled to end April 8.

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