Ecuadorian Presidential Candidate Assassinated At Event


ECUADOR-ELECTION-CANDIDATE-VILLAVICENCIO
Former Assembly member and now presidential candidate, Fernando Villavicencio, gestures outside the Attorney General's Office in Quito on August 8, 2023. Fernando Villavicencio asked the Attorney General's Office to investigate former officials related to the oil sector of the governments of Rafael Correa, Lenín Moreno, and Guillermo Lasso as part of a criminal complaint that he filed on Tuesday. (Photo by Rodrigo BUENDIA / AFP) (Photo by RODRIGO BUENDIA/AFP via Getty Images)
Former Assembly member and now presidential candidate, Fernando Villavicencio, gestures outside the Attorney General’s Office in Quito on August 8, 2023. (Photo by RODRIGO BUENDIA/AFP via Getty Images)

Fernando Villavicencio, one of Ecuador’s presidential candidates, was assassinated at a campaign event just days before the election. 

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On Wednesday, Villavicencio, 59, was reportedly shot three times in the head while leaving a campaign rally at a school in Quito, the capital of Ecuador. The election was just 11 days away.

Guillermo Lasso, the president of Ecuador, promised the murder would not go unpunished, adding that “organized crime has come a long way, but the full weight of the law will fall on them.” Lasso declared a 60-day state of emergency, an immediate nationwide deployment of armed forces, and three days of national mourning.

The Attorney General’s Office of Ecuador said in a statement that the gunman passed away in custody after a shootout with security guards. 

According to Interior Minister Juan Zapata, six others were also arrested in connection with the assassination. All the men involved in the shooting were reported as being foreign nationals who are part of an organized criminal group. 

Just days ago, the presidential candidate was shown on video discussing how he had been warned to have extra protection at rallies. 

“Here I am Mrs. Luisa González. They have told me to wear a bulletproof vest but here I am in a sweaty shirt, let the drug lords come, let the hitmen come,” said Villavicencio.

Footage of the shooting also appears to be circulating on social media. 

The footage reportedly shows Villavicencio exiting the campaign event and walking towards a car while being surrounded by a large number of law enforcement officers and bystanders. As he goes into the back seat of an automobile, at least 12 gunshots can be heard.

Nine other people were also injured in the attack, including a candidate for the National Assembly and two police officers.

Electoral Council President Diana Atamaint stated that the presidential election on August 20th is scheduled to continue as planned.

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