Union chief. Muckraking journalist. Legislator. Presidential candidate. And now, murderer’s sufferer.
Fernando Villavicencio, who was gunned down at a rally on Wednesday, had a protracted historical past in Ecuadorean public affairs, largely as an antagonist to these in energy. He rose to prominence as a union chief on the state oil firm, Petroecuador, and later performed a vital position in exposing a corruption scandal involving the administration of former President Rafael Correa.
Mr. Correa, a socialist, was Ecuador’s longest-serving democratically elected president, main the nation for a decade, by 2017. A commodities growth helped him carry tens of millions out of poverty, however his authoritarian type and the corruption allegations that trailed him deeply divided the nation.
And Mr. Villavicencio was “all the time contesting the facility” of Mr. Correa, in accordance with Caroline Ávila, an Ecuadorean political analyst.
As a journalist, Mr. Villavicencio obtained paperwork a few authorities surveillance program that he despatched to WikiLeaks however finally printed himself. A few of his work led to loss of life threats and prices that have been extensively criticized as politically motivated. He fled to Peru in 2017 to hunt political asylum.
There, he met with a good friend from his undergraduate days on the Central College of Ecuador. He had no cash to battle the costs in opposition to him, and had been compelled to depart behind his spouse and two younger youngsters.
“He felt bullied and diminished,” mentioned the good friend, Grace Jaramillo, who’s now a political scientist on the College of British Columbia.
However later that yr, Mr. Correa left workplace, and Mr. Villavicencio returned house. He received a seat within the Nationwide Meeting, the place he served till Might, when the legislature was dissolved by President Guillermo Lasso, who was going through impeachment proceedings over embezzlement accusations.
Mr. Lasso’s transfer additionally triggered a presidential election, with a vote set for Aug. 20. For his presidential run, Mr. Villavicencio, 59, solid himself because the anticorruption candidate. He was representing the Construct Ecuador Motion, a broad coalition, and in addition campaigned on points like private security, in a rustic that has been consumed by violence associated to narco-trafficking.
Mr. Villavicencio was polling close to the center of an eight-person race, however remained hopeful about his possibilities, in accordance with Ms. Jaramillo. However he was gunned down earlier than voters may ship their verdict.
Quickly after the killing, Mr. Correa, the previous president, issued a lament on social media.
“They’ve assassinated Fernando Villavicencio,” Mr. Correa wrote. “Ecuador has grow to be a failed state.”