Fernando Villavicencio, the presidential candidate in Ecuador assassinated in a hail of gunfire on Wednesday, had for months denounced threats to his individual and dared drug trafficking cartels to kill him.
In one among his final public appearances, at a marketing campaign rally lower than every week earlier than his assassination, Villavicencio stated he refused to make use of bulletproof vests regardless of always being instructed to for his security.
“Let the narco capos come to me, let the assassins come,” he proclaimed. “The time for threats is over.”
Villavicencio was one among eight candidates within the Ecuadorian presidential election, nonetheless scheduled to happen on August 20 regardless of his killing. He had concluded a marketing campaign occasion in Quito on Wednesday when, whereas strolling to his car, apparently within the presence of 4 cops, gunmen started capturing in his route. Experiences indicated that Villavicencio died of three gunshot wounds to the pinnacle, and one other 9 folks suffered vital accidents. An unnamed man believed to be a gunman additionally died on the scene in a shootout with police.
Ecuadorian authorities have arrested six males, all Colombian nationals, in relation to the assassination as of Friday morning. Two of the lads already had warrants out for his or her arrests on unrelated expenses.
The assassination has left Ecuador in a state of shock, with no presidential frontrunner and an unclear path to sustaining the security of the opposite candidates by way of the August 20 elections.
Villavicencio started his profession in Ecuador’s wealthy oil trade, then grew to become a journalist and finally served in Ecuador’s Nationwide Meeting till present President Guillermo Lasso dissolved it in Could. After a collection of failed impeachments, Lasso used his constitutional powers to dissolve the federal legislature and name for brand spanking new elections on the grounds that the Ecuadorian left had made governing inconceivable. Lasso just isn’t working for reelection.
As a lawmaker and investigator, Villavicencio centered on combatting socialist corruption within the nation, main analysis efforts to uncover socialist former President Rafael Correa’s dealings with communist China that, based on the late presidential candidate, resulted in Ecuador dropping billions in oil income. Correa tried to imprison him for insulting the president in 2014 however failed after Villavicencio took refuge with an indigenous Amazonian tribe.
Villavicencio had additionally just lately accused leftist lawmakers of corruption and illicit ties with drug trafficking organizations. He had just lately accused one drug trafficker specifically, an alleged Sinaloa Cartel member referred to as “Fito,” of plotting his assassination.
Throughout a marketing campaign cease in Chone, northern Ecuador, final week, Villavicencio boasted that he acquired common demise threats however refused to make use of a bulletproof vest.
“They’ve instructed me to make use of the vest – right here I’m in a sweaty shirt, rattling it!” Villavicencio shouted. “You people are my bulletproof vest, I don’t want one.”
“You’re my valiant folks and I’m as courageous as you might be, you’re the ones who maintain me,” he continued. “They stated they have been going to interrupt me – right here I’m. Let the narco capos come, let the assassins come … the time for threats is over. I’m right here.”
Villavicencio had made his major marketing campaign promise to get rid of drug trafficking and arranged crime within the nation. He promised to construct a “high-security” jail as his first main venture within the presidency and wore the threats as an indication that his insurance policies can be efficient and impressed worry in prison leaders.
In early August, Villavicencio denounced a “very grave menace from one of many Sinaloa cartel capos, alias ‘Fito,’ towards me and towards my marketing campaign group with a warning that if I hold referring to him and his group they are going to assault or threaten my life.”
“What this does is affirm that, in actual fact, our marketing campaign proposals gravely have an effect on prison organizations,” Villavicencio stated. “And right here I’m, displaying my face. I’m not afraid. I’ve been betting on this nation for 20 years towards these prison buildings and I reiterate: I’m not afraid of them.”
Aquí Villavicencio lo cube muy claro: quien le quiere asesinar es el narcotraficante alias #Fito
A por él y toda su estructura y quienes le apoyan…
Y también sus aliados políticos. pic.twitter.com/KP7O2jkXlv
— Luis Espinosa Goded (@luisesgo) August 10, 2023
Villavicencio had beforehand additionally dismissed the opportunity of dropping his life as a minor value to pay.
“The one factor they’ll do to me is kill me, and with that we are going to liberate a complete folks,” he stated at a latest marketing campaign cease in July, based on the Spanish newspaper El País. “I’m not afraid of demise as a result of I’ve already received towards her.”
Villavicencio had denounced demise threats lengthy earlier than the presidential race. In April, earlier than Lasso known as for elections, Villavicencio claimed members of the Nationwide Meeting have been planning to assassinate him with the assistance of organized crime.
“I’ve acquired info from parliamentary sources about an assault with ‘assassins’ being ready towards me and my household,” Villavicencio stated on the time, “being ready by numerous legislators who’ve demonstrated open opposition to my serving [in the Assembly]. The nation is aware of who they’re.”
Villavicencio had printed in January an inventory of lawmakers, most of them from socialist and left-wing events, that he accused of conspiracy with drug traffickers.
Villavicencio’s spouse, Verónica Sarauz, confirmed to the South American information station NTN24 on Thursday her husband refused to put on bulletproof vests throughout his last days, regardless of having worn them earlier than and the repeated threats towards his life, however blamed the Lasso authorities for not providing ample safety this week to forestall a tragedy.
Sarauz described her husband as going through a “97 %” threat of dropping his life throughout the election.
“Fernando had safety and I don’t perceive why an murderer might get so near my husband’s safety element and kill him,” she stated.
“Mi esposo tenía un informe del 97% de riesgo contra su vida (…) no entiendo por qué dejó de usar chaleco y no estuvo en un auto blindado”, cube la viuda de Fernando Villavicencio, @VeroSarauzP, en NTN24 https://t.co/CXyaotioAD pic.twitter.com/RHEA65eb2j
— NTN24 (@NTN24) August 10, 2023
Ecuador’s El Universo reported on Thursday that footage from the assassination scene confirmed solely 4 cops defending Villavicencio when, previously, based on unnamed marketing campaign staffers, police had supplied “dozens of armed and uniformed officers and even army automobiles” to help Villavicencio in his marketing campaign stops.
The Ecuadorian Minister of Authorities (equal to inside secretary) Henry Cucalón defended his authorities’s safety of Villavicencio, insisting no proof recommended any “omission or inaction” that might have enabled the killing. Cucalón described the shootout that killed the candidate as a “terrorist assault” meant to ship the message “that nothing stops organized crime.”
“If they’ll assault and finish the lifetime of a presidential candidate, they’ll do it to anybody, together with the president. That’s the message they needed to ship,” Cucalón asserted, insisting elections should happen on August 20 as a “slap within the face” towards the culprits and their messaging.
Lasso introduced on Thursday that he had requested assist in investigating the matter from the American Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).