“They took everything from us, the dream of a family, of a city. May God forgive the murderers, but a mother, some children, a people feel anger and ask for justice because they took away their leader.” The heartbreaking farewell Rosa Saldarriagathe mayor’s widow Augustine Intriagoshocked Ecuador, knowing that the hitmen who murdered him acted in the pay of organized crime in a coastal city, Manta, key to drug trafficking.
It went unnoticed by no one that the young Saldarriaga attended the funeral of her husband, one of the most popular mayors in the country, protected by a bulletproof vest provided by the Police. This is how things are in Ecuador, known until recently for its calm in terms of security, hours after President Guillermo Lasso declared a state of emergency in the prisons and ordered the seizure of the prisons, starting with the Litoral Penitentiary.
“Wave of alarming violence and generalized violence in Ecuador,” acknowledged the Ombudsman’s Office after the latest events, which have deepened the climate of terror that its citizens endure. In such a situation, no one was surprised that a new pitched battle inside the Guayaquil prison ended the life of at least 31 inmates. “All terrorists will be defeated, anarchism has no place in our society,” Lasso cried in his first statements after the massacre, one more in recent months, which breaks all records: more than 400 prisoners have died in Ecuadorian prisonswhile in the rest of the country the highest number of homicides in its history is reached.
Juan Zapata, Minister of the Interior, emulated Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele and released videos and images of hundreds of prisoners tied up, some face down on the ground and others sitting or kneeling, surrounded by heavily armed police or military agents. Almost 3,000 agents entered the prison in the capital of Guayas. After hours of searches, 13 bodies were found that did not appear after the first count, in addition to an arsenal made up of thousands of bullets and chargers, rifles, pistols, grenade launchers, knives and razors.
The conflict between different criminal gangs associated with drug trafficking began last Saturday and lasted until early Tuesday morning. Prisons have become operations centers for organized crime and inside them begins the fight against the state. The extortion against the government even led to the kidnapping of more than a hundred prison guides in recent days, who were finally released.