A crowd estimated at 3,000 marched through the streets of the historic district Thursday demanding an end to the drug-related violence on Ecuador’s border with Colombia. It was one of several peace marches in the country’s major cities.
The crowd, chanting “Enough violence!,” rallied in Parque Calderon after marching up Calle Simon Bolivar.
“We ask for justice in this difficult situation and for the government to take decisive but careful steps to restore peace in Esmeraldas Province,” Francisco Ramírez of the National Union of Journalists told the crowd. “Most of all, we wish for peace in our country and that the death and violence stop,” he added.
Many at the rally carried pictures of three Ecuadorian journalists murdered last week by a Colombian drug cartel.
The journalists were kidnapped March 26 near the border town of Mataje. They were murdered in Colombia by their captors, the Óliver Sinisterra Front, formerly part of the leftist FARC rebels, now engaged in drug production and trafficking in southwestern Colombia and northwest Ecuador.
The march, which included various unions, civic organizations and university students, was led by Azuay Province Governor Xavier Enderica and Cuenca Mayor Marcelo Cabrera.
“Now more than ever, we must be united as a country and work for the restoration of peace,” Enderica told the Parque Calderon crowd. “We do this not only for the victims of violence but for our entire society.”