Ecuador votes in presidential election dominated by security woes
Ecuadorans head to the polls Sunday in a presidential election tarnished by the murder of a top candidate, which cast a spotlight on the violence ravaging a once-peaceful nation caught up in the global drug trade.
The eight presidential candidates have prioritized promises to crack down on organized crime, all while campaigning in bulletproof vests.
The small South American country has in recent years become a playground for foreign drug mafia seeking to export cocaine, stirring up a brutal war between local gangs.
Several political assassinations marked the run-up to the vote, with the murder of serious presidential contender Fernando Villavicencio just 11 days from the election underscoring the challenges facing the country.
“These are completely atypical elections, in a situation basically of horror that Ecuador is going through… due to the existing violence, but which manifested itself in a more acute and atrocious way” with Villavicencio’s murder, political scientist Anamaria Correa Crespo told AFP.
In 2022, the country hit a record of 26 murders per 100,000 inhabitants, higher than the rate in Colombia, Mexico and Brazil.
President Guillermo Lasso called the snap election after he dissolved the opposition-dominated Congress in May to avoid an impeachment trial just two years after his election.
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