Most murder victims are criminals, government says; Ecuador, U.S. sign drug trafficking agreement; Alausí ‘Devil’s Nose’ train to resume operation
According to National Security Secretary Wagner Bravo, the majority of murder victims in 2023 had criminal records. “More than 70% of those killed had been prosecuted for previous criminal activity and most of those had served prison sentences,” he said Friday. “Murders committed in 2022 show a similar crime-on-crime pattern.”
Bravo said the statistics are important for two reasons. “First, it tells us that the threat to citizens is not as great as presented in the news media,” he said. “It is true that the country has seen an increase in murders, but it is important that the public realize that most of these crimes are criminals killing other criminals.”
“Secondly, the numbers tell us that criminal activity in some regions of the country is extensive,” he said. “It illustrates the enormous challenge to control the criminal gangs and drug cartels which are operating in the country, most of them imported from outside the country. These groups are entrenched in some communities and must be extracted.”
Ecuador, the U.S. sign drug trafficking agreement
President Guillermo Lasso has signed an agreement with the United States strengthening cooperation in the fight against drug trafficking, particularly in the area of maritime control. “With this accord, the U.S. increases its commitment to combat drug transport in the Pacific Ocean and will assign additional personnel and ocean craft to the effort,” the U.S. State Department said.
Lasso said additional details of the agreement would be released soon but it involved both patrols and radar surveillance. He added that no U.S. troops would be stationed on Ecuadorian soil.
Presidential candidate Luisa González criticized the agreement for its “secrecy,” and said it might violate a constitutional prohibition of allowing foreign governments to conduct military operations in Ecuador.
Socialists, teachers’ unions urge election “no” vote
Ecuador’s Socialist Party and the National Union of Educators (UNE), the country’s largest teachers’ union, are urging their supporters to vote “nulo”, or no, in the October 15 presidential runoff election. Both organizations said they waited to make their decision until after Sunday’s presidential debate between Luisa González and Daniel Noboa.
“We listened carefully to what the candidates had to say but heard nothing from either one to make us announce our support,” said Gustavo Vallejo of the Socialist Party. “Most of their proposals sound the same and neither González or Noboa seem to comprehend the seriousness of the social crisis facing Ecuadorians.” The Socialists supported Yaku Perez in the presidential primary.
In its statement, the UNE said it does not recommend a vote for either Gonzalez or Noboa and said there was no indication from González that she was willing to break with the policies for former president Rafael Correa in opposing the rights of workers. “We are disappointed in her position on unionization since we were hoping for a change,” the union said in a prepared statement.
Alausí ‘Devil’s Nose” train to resume operation
“The recovery has begun,” Transportation Minister César Rohon, proclaimed Friday when he announced that the Nariz del Diablo (Devil’s Nose) train in Alausí will return to service by the end of the year.
The 12-kilometer train route was one of Ecuador’s top tourist attractions when operations were suspended in March 2020, at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. Since early 2022, Alausí and Chimborazo Province officials have lobbied the government to allow resumption of the service, claiming the closure had been a “devastating blow” to the local economy.
In March of this year Alausí suffered a massive landslide that resulted in at least 60 deaths. The landslide destroyed a school, two churches, the city football stadium and dozens of private homes.
President Guillermo Lasso accompanied Rohon at the signing ceremony in Alausí.