Presidential candidate and anti-corruption crusader assassinated in Ecuador

August 10, 2023

Ecuadorian presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio was assassinated while leaving a campaign event at a stadium in Quito on Wednesday.

The 59-year-old anti-corruption crusader had complained of receiving threats ahead of his murder, which current President of Ecuador, Guillermo Lasso, has blamed on organized crime.

On Thursday Lasso declared a two-month state of emergency in the wake of Villavicencio’s assassination, but he said Ecuador’s general elections will be held as scheduled on August 20.

“[O]rganized crime has come a long way, but the full weight of the law will fall on them,” said Lasso.

Villavicencio was fatally shot 10 days before the first round of Ecuador’s presidential election was set to take place. Opinion polls had put him in the middle of the pack among eight candidates, well behind frontrunner Luisa González.

As a lawmaker in the National Assembly, Ecuador’s unicameral legislature, Villavicencio had lambasted corruption and the violence brought about by drug trafficking. In May he called Ecuador a “narco state” and vowed to fight against its “political mafia.”

Villavicencio’s suspected assassin died in police custody following an exchange of gunfire with security personnel. Ecuador’s Attorney General’s Office has launched an investigation into the attack which also left nine people injured, including a National Assembly candidate and two police officers.

PHOTO: Fernando Villavicencio in Ecuador’s National Assembly 2022

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