Referendum to focus on fighting drug violence, citizen security; Lasso’s brother-in-law under house arrest; Government pursues ties with Cuba

Nov 27, 2023 | 0 comments

Law enforcement and citizen security will be the focus of a referendum President Daniel Noboa will present to voters in February or March 2024. “The questions will ask voters to approve stronger measures to fight the drug cartels and to make our neighborhoods safer,” says Diego Matovelle, National Assembly member representing Noboa’s Democratic Action party.

According to Matovelle, the questions will strengthen the role of the military in law enforcement operations, revise the rules for the declaration of national emergencies and allow the extradition of criminals to other countries.

President Daniel Noboa’s referendum seeks to allow Ecuador’s military to play a larger role in fighting drug cartels.

In an interview on the Ecuavisa television program Politically Correct, Matovelle claimed that the hands of law enforcement are often tied by rules intended to protect human rights. “We will not infringe of the rights of innocent citizens, but we will put teeth into the laws intended to get criminals off the street,” he said.

The provision to authorize military personnel to assist police is aimed specifically at fighting the drug cartels and the gangs that support them, Matovelle says. “This will end the need for the president to invoke states of emergency, which are limited in scope and expensive to execute. National emergencies need to be reserved for disasters and real emergencies and not be used for law enforcement operations.”

Although the relaxation of extradition rules was rejected by voters in the referendum former president Guillermo Lasso presented last year, Matovelle believes it will be supported in next year’s vote. “The last referendum became a vote on Lasso and his government, which the people rejected, and the extradition question was lost in the confusion. People voted on Lasso’s presidency, not on the questions. The result will be different next time. People are ready to support the new government in its fight against crime.”

Lasso’s brother-in-law is under house arrest
Former president Guillermo Lasso’s brother-in-law Danilo Carrera has been arrested on organized crime charges and placed under house arrest. Judge Renan Andrade ordered the 65-year-old Carrera to prison but later changed the order to house arrest based on Carrera’s age. The arrest was made Friday, the day after Lasso left office.

The judge also ordered pre-trial detention for Hernán Luque, Leonardo Cortázar and Gabriel Massuh, implicated with Carrera in the organized crime operation. Another Carrera associate, Jorge Orbe, was ordered to report weekly to the Ecuadorian Consulate in Miami.

According to the prosecutors, Carrera and Rubén Cherres, who was murdered earlier this year during the preliminary investigation, sought illegal economic gain due their proximity to the Lasso government. According to arrest documents, they operated schemes within the National Electricity Corporation, the Customs Service and BanEcuador.

Government pursues new ties with Cuba
Ecuador’s new Education Ministry is working with Cuban officials to develop education programs to share university professors and students between the two countries. “The government of Daniel Noboa is interested in strengthening ties with Cuba and believes higher education is a good place to start,” said Cuba Education Minister Walter Baluja, who attended Thursday’s presidential inauguration.

The programs under discussion involve professional, vocational and academic studies that would allow students and faculty to travel between Cuba and Ecuador. Acknowledging the talks, Ecuador’s Education Ministry said it “recognized the high quality of Cuban education” and believes shared studies will benefit both countries.

Pablo Beltrán, rector of the Technical University of Manabí and president of the Higher Education Council of Ecuador, said the new programs will be announced in February at the World University Congress in Havana. “University educators from Ecuador and Cuba will meet to work out the details of the joint programs to benefit professional and vocational education in both countries.”


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