April 15, 2024

Columbus Post

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The murder of the country's young mayor has shocked Ecuador

The murder of the country's young mayor has shocked Ecuador

Over the weekend, ongoing gang violence in Ecuador hit another low. On Sunday, 27-year-old politician Brigitte Garcia was found dead with a staff member. García was mayor of the city of San Vicente – last year he became the youngest office holder in the country. In the small town of about 17,000 residents, he campaigned for better drinking water.

Brigitte García was famous for being Ecuador's youngest mayor – and now she's dead.Collection: www.imago-images.de

Garcia's body was found Sunday night in a rental car on Pacific Beach near San Vicente. Both were shot dead — by a passenger in the car with them, according to preliminary findings. Police are in the dark: no suspects or motive.

Garcia's death continues a spate of murders in Ecuador. Manabi province on the west coast is currently particularly vulnerable. A mayor from the province was murdered in July, and a candidate for office from the city of Puerto López was killed in February 2023. Construye candidate Fernando Villavicencio was also gunned down in the capital, Quito, in August.

The killing of another politician, Garcia, has caused a stir in the country. “The shock is great” said Sandra Weiss SRF, a journalist living in South America. Politician Luisa González writes in X: “I have no words, I am shocked, no one is safe in Ecuador. nobody is here.”

Drug trafficking and gang violence add to the confusion

Many of the deaths were probably related to gang violence, which has increased sharply in the South American country. It was fueled by the illegal drug trade: cocaine was smuggled from South America to the US and Europe via the port city of Guayaquil.

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In January, the government of President Daniel Nobo declared a nationwide state of emergency. Since then, with soldiers patrolling the streets, the recently chaotic conditions in the prisons have somewhat calmed down. However, the situation in the country remains dire. “It is not enough, because the drug mafia cannot be defeated militarily,” the journalist said. Solving the problem requires something above all else: an alternative for young people. Long-term solutions are only possible if there are attractive opportunities outside the gangs. (dab)

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