Ecuadorian presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio assassinated following campaign rally

The former member of Ecuador’s National Assembly Villavicencio had previously denounced receiving threats from members of criminal groups

August 10, 2023 by Peoples Dispatch
Fernando Villavicencio

Fernando Villavicencio, a former member of the Ecuadorian National Assembly and presidential candidate in the upcoming elections, was killed on the evening of August 9 in Quito, the country’s capital.

Villavicencio was leaving a political campaign meeting in a high school when he was attacked by unidentified armed men who shot at him in the head. The presidential candidate was taken to a nearby hospital, where he succumbed to his wounds, as confirmed by the Interior Minister Juan Zapata.

According to preliminary reports, in addition to Villavicencio, several other people were injured in the attack.

Fernando Villavicencio was a 59-year-old politician. He was polling between fourth and fifth in all major opinion polls for the upcoming presidential election. During his time in the National Assembly, he ran the audit commission, which delivered a favorable report to move forward with the impeachment trial against President Guillermo Lasso.

Last week, on August 2, Fernando Villavicencio reported that he had received death threats and he had notified the Attorney General’s Office. The presidential hopeful had allegedly received threats from different national and international drug trafficking and criminal groups, including the Choneros from Ecuador and the Sinaloa drug cartel.

Read more: Crisis in Ecuador following spurt of violence and rumors of a government deal with gangs

In recent months, Ecuador has been suffering a deep political, economic, social, and security crisis with the number of violent incidents increasing drastically in this period. Just during the electoral campaign, the Mayor of Manta, one of the largest cities in the country, was killed by armed men. A candidate for the national assembly, Rider Sánchez, was also killed in Quinindé, Esmeraldas on July 17.

Progressive presidential candidate Luisa González from the Citizen Revolution Movement party categorically rejected the attack on Villavicencio and demanded an end to insecurity and impunity. González canceled her campaign event in Quito and expressed her solidarity with Villavicencio.

“Beyond a political flag, political differences are resolved at the ballot box, not with violence,” stated González while ending the meeting.

González added that “as Revolucion Ciudadana we are in solidarity with Quito, with the family of candidate Villavicencio, because when they touch one of us, they touch everyone.”

“As a movement so far this year, we have had two candidates and one elected comrade be assassinated. Three people from our movement.”