Ecuador: Shootout Interrupts Presidential Campaign Rally One Week After Candidate Killing

Ecuadorian presidential candidate Daniel Noboa, wearing a bulletproof vest and accompanied

A shootout in Durán, Ecuador, interrupted a campaign rally for presidential candidate Daniel Noboa on Thursday, ending the tense week after another candidate, Fernando Villavicencio, was shot dead outside a campaign event.

Unlike the shootout at Villavicencio’s event, which left the candidate dead and another 20 injured, no injuries were recorded following the violence at Noboa’s rally.

Noboa and campaign sources described the incident as an attack against his motorcade, but the nation’s Interior Ministry dismissed that it had evidence the candidate was the target.

“An attempt was just made in Durán against the caravan in which we were mobilizing, thank God we were unharmed,” Noboa posted on his Twitter account. “Fear and intimidation have no place in the country we want and which we are committed to changing once and for all.”

“We will continue the closing caravan today in Guayaquil, taking care of ourselves but with great faith, optimism and determination,” he continued, “Thank you for your messages and encourage us to continue.”

The incident occurred three days before the August 20 presidential election and eight days after the assassination of Villavicencio, an anti-corruption, anti-socialist, and anti-China candidate.

Fernando Villavicencio gestures outside the Attorney General’s Office in Quito on August 8, 2023. (RODRIGO BUENDIA/AFP via Getty Images)

Ecuadorian Interior Minister Juan Zapata ruled out that the incident was an attack on Noboa in an update on his Twitter account on Thursday. Shortly afterward, Ecuador’s National Police stated it carried out the “respective verifications in the territory” to learn more about what happened but ruled out the incident as a targeted attack on Noboa.

Noboa, a 35-year-old candidate representing the National Democratic Action Alliance (ADN), announced at the start of Sunday’s presidential debate that he had allegedly been the target of death threats from “unknown persons,” which prompted him to wear a bulletproof vest during the debate.

The businessman and former lawmaker was also reportedly wearing a vest at the time of the shootout.

Durán, a municipality in the metropolitan area of Guayaquil, is considered one of Ecuador’s most crime-ridden areas. The region, according to local authorities, is used by drug traffickers to stockpile cocaine before it is shipped overseas. Durán, alongside Manabí and the Los Ríos provinces, is currently under a state of emergency decreed by President Guillermo Lasso in July.

The state of emergency, which established a late-night curfew in all three affected areas and has drastically increased the number of police officers in Durán, was issued in response to a wave of violence and the assassination of Manta Mayor Agustín Intriago, shot dead while carrying out a public inspection of Manta’s sewerage works in late July.

Firemen guard the coffin during the funeral of the Mayor of Manta, Agustin Intriago, who was killed by unknown assailants in Manta, Ecuador, on July 24, 2023. (AP Photo/Dolores Ochoa)

The upcoming presidential election was organized as a result of conservative President Guillermo Lasso activating a constitutional provision known as “muerte cruzada” (roughly, “mutually assured death”) in May that allows for the dissolution of Ecuador’s National Assembly, the federal legislature.

The provision automatically triggers new presidential and legislative elections to complete the remainder of both the 2021-2025 presidential and legislative terms — hence ending the terms of both the legislative and executive branches.

Lasso activated the constitutional provision after more than a dozen failed attempts by leftist legislators to impeach him, which had made governing in Ecuador impossible, the president complained. The “mutually assured death” provision was added to the South American nation’s constitution in 2008 during the government of socialist President Rafael Correa.

Lasso is not among the eight candidates on the ballot this weekend.

Prior to the dissolution of the Ecuadorian National Assembly, Daniel Noboa served as the president of the Assembly’s Economic Development Commission. Noboa’s father, Álvaro Noboa Pontón, unsuccessfully ran for president five times.

Daniel Noboa, presidential candidate for the Accion Democratica Nacional Alliance party, speaks before a televised debate ahead of the presidential election in Quito, Ecuador, on August 13, 2023. (Andres Yepez/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

The 35-year-old candidate, whose campaign platform has no explicit ideology, is the youngest of the eight running in the August 20 election. Ecuadorian electoral law states that a candidate must either obtain more than 50 percent of the vote or over 40 percent of the votes and be ten percent ahead of the second most-voted candidate to be elected in the first round. Otherwise, a runoff election between the two top candidates will take place.

Christian K. Caruzo is a Venezuelan writer and documents life under socialism. You can follow him on Twitter here.


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