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In Ecuador, Drug Cartels, Car Bomb Attacks, and Presidential Candidate Assassinations Financed by Oligarchs and the Atlas Network

Alvaro Enrique Saldivia Lopez

Oct 22, 2023

Ecuador recently conducted presidential elections amid the most extensive wave of violence in its contemporary history. These elections unfolded against a backdrop of assassinations of presidential candidates, car bombings, hired assassins acting on behalf of the oligarchy, and a state of emergency declared following the dissolution of Congress by President Guillermo Lasso, a neoliberal banker and a member of the Atlas Network. Furthermore, media disinformation campaigns and attacks on the Citizen Revolution candidate, Luisa González, due to her past as a teenage mother, contributed to the chaos. A faction of Ecuador's ruling class orchestrated this chaos to prevent the almost certain victory of Luisa González and promote their puppet candidate, Daniel Noboa.

Luisa González

The media oligopoly not only concealed the ties between Noboa and the drug trafficking networks supporting Lasso, which were linked to the assassination of presidential candidate Villavicencio, but also propagated their narrative to cast doubt on the Citizen Revolution. This unethical campaign caused Luisa González, who had consistently led in the polls and was poised to win in the first round, to lose support, forcing a runoff against Noboa.

Daniel Noboa

This media manipulation could be categorized as electoral fraud, as it not only concealed a crime but also defamed political figures in an attempt to influence the voting intentions of the Ecuadorian people. Ecuadorians living abroad, who largely support the Citizen Revolution, were unable to cast their votes. Voting irregularities marred this electoral process, a reality suppressed by the corporate media.

Ecuadorian compradors

A brief examination of Ecuador's political history reveals a troubling pattern of US-backed manipulation. After two terms under President Rafael Correa, de facto powers unleashed a "lawfare" campaign that forced him into exile. His successor, the deceptively named Lenin Moreno, betrayed the party, the Ecuadorian people, and willingly handed Julian Assange over to the British police. Despite massive protests in 2019 by various segments of society, including indigenous, workers, and peasants, Moreno also accepted austerity measures from the International Monetary Fund. The government had to temporarily relocate its headquarters from Quito to Guayaquil due to the strong opposition.

Guillermo Lasso

Ecuador subsequently elected Guillermo Lasso, a US-backed figure, prominent banker, and financier of the Atlas Network, as president. Lasso's reign exacerbated the decline in the quality of life, eroded people's finances, curtailed basic human and workers' rights, and further weakened institutions. Lasso was backed by drug trafficking networks and criminal organizations, which he later employed as hitmen after dissolving Congress. Lasso welcomed death squads of Anglo-Zionist Yankee Imperialism into the Amazon, the coasts, and the islands of the Ecuadorian Pacific.

Unfortunately, Ecuador has been grappling with deteriorating conditions for years, characterized by a lack of economic sovereignty due to dollarization, media control, institutions that do not serve the people, and an unprecedented surge in organized crime and violence.

Fernando Villavicencio

Fernando Villavicencio, the presidential candidate assassinated by drug cartels and oligarchs, was a champion against corruption.

The candidate for the Ecuadorian presidency representing the Construye and Gente Buena movements was fatally shot after a rally in Quito, just eleven days before the extraordinary elections.

Before entering the oil sector, Villavicencio dedicated himself to journalism, contributing to the portals Plan V, Mil Hojas, and Investigative Journalism.

The assassination of Ecuadorian presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio sent shockwaves through the South American country, where growing drug-related violence is a major concern for voters, prompting some of his rivals to suspend campaigning.

Villavicencio, a critic of corruption and organized crime, was killed during an afternoon campaign event in northern Quito.

Biography of Fernando Villavicencio

Here's what we know about the slain candidate who had reported threats from the Sinaloa Cartel.

Born on October 11, 1963, in Seville, part of the Andean town of Alausí, in the province of Chimborazo, in southern Ecuador, Villavicencio was the eldest of six children and grew up in the countryside until his family migrated to Quito.

From a very young age, he worked various jobs, including peeling fish and shells and working as a waiter and a posillero, as he related in a recent interview with the newspaper El Universo.

Since his teenage years, he was involved with indigenous and worker social organizations, according to the campaign website. He later became associated with the oil industry, where he gained extensive knowledge, holding a position in the community relations area of the state-owned Petroecuador.

"My work was against the oil industry because what I did was investigate and document the impacts of the oil industry," he said. He added that he consistently produced reports critical of the company.

After leaving the oil sector, he pursued a career in journalism, contributing to the portals Plan V, Mil Hojas, and Investigative Journalism.

Villavicencio, known as Don Villa by his supporters, later served in the National Assembly, where he chaired the Oversight Commission that called for the impeachment of President Lasso over an alleged corruption case, a move that the candidate vehemently opposed.

Was he left-wing or right-wing?

In an interview with the EFE agency in May, Villavicencio stated that he initially identified as a moderate leftist but currently considered himself a centrist.

Sponsored by the Construye and Gente Buena movements, the journalist and former assemblyman sought the presidency of Ecuador for the first time in atypical elections held on August 20.

These early elections took place after President Guillermo Lasso dissolved the National Assembly.

Among Villavicencio's proposals was the construction of a maximum-security prison in the Amazon. "My government is going to be tough on crime, but we will primarily focus on addressing unemployment," he recently declared to the press.

Fierce in his fight against corruption, presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio had filed complaints of irregularities in state contracts until days before he was shot dead at a political rally in the Ecuadorian capital.

One of his investigative reports implicated former President Rafael Correa (2007-2017) in a bribery scheme. The report, conducted in collaboration with his colleague and friend Christian Zurita, exposed corrupt practices involving the former president and government officials.

In this case, Correa, who has sought refuge in Belgium and whom Villavicencio referred to as "the fugitive," was sentenced in absentia to eight years in prison.

Villavicencio's investigations resulted in threats and legal troubles. In 2014, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) granted him precautionary measures after he received an 18-month prison sentence for insulting Correa. On that occasion, he sought refuge in the Amazon jungle to avoid incarceration.

Two years later, he faced imprisonment again, this time for allegedly disclosing classified information through hacked emails related to corruption in oil deals during the Correa administration. He subsequently sought refuge in Lima until 2017 when he returned to Ecuador under the government of then-President Lenín Moreno (2017-2021), who had distanced himself from Correa.

Villavicencio reported threats against his life and his campaign team on two occasions. Despite the new threats, he continued to fight for the courageous people of Ecuador, as he declared on Twitter while denouncing intimidating messages.

Villavicencio's tragic death led to widespread outrage and condemnation of the crime plaguing the country.

President AMLO of Mexico called for a thorough and transparent investigation into the assassination of the Ecuadorian candidate. The media attempted to manipulate public opinion by suggesting that the killing of Villavicencio was an act of vengeance by supporters of Rafael Correa.

However, Correaismo is not involved in terrorism or criminal activities and has never resorted to political violence. The narco structure, mafia, and paramilitary groups collaborate with and serve the interests of the far-right Ecuadorian ruling class.

"We witnessed a horror movie, with machine guns firing 30, 40 shots, people wounded, some dead, and the murder of Fernando was heartbreaking," said Galo Valencia, the uncle of the presidential candidate, in a statement to the press.

Inside the school where Villavicencio had been campaigning, his supporters took cover on the floor to shield themselves from the gunfire, while others fled in desperation, leaving behind traces of blood on the floor.

"Fernando, brave. Fernando, you will live forever," cried out Villavicencio's supporters, deeply mourning one of their favored presidential candidates, known for his relentless exposure of corruption, particularly within the government of former President Rafael Correa (2007-2017).

Car Bombs: Far-Right Terrorist Attack in Quito During Election Week

For the first time, a car bomb attack shook the Ecuadorian capital. Historically, terrorist attacks and violence had been concentrated in coastal cities, which serve as routes for drug trafficking to external markets. Quito had seemed insulated from organized crime until the night of September 30, 2023, when the first car bomb, containing two gas cylinders, fuel, dynamite sticks, and a slow fuse, exploded in the La Mariscal residential area in the north of the city. It occurred around eight o'clock, near a government building that formerly housed the National Service for Persons Deprived of Liberty (SNAI), the agency responsible for prisons.

The second car bomb exploded around two in the morning on Avenida 12 de Octubre, near universities and colleges. The target was another SNAI office where defendants with court orders were required to appear. The van used had the same explosive charge and employed a similar method.

Quito had already been on edge due to police and military intervention in the Cotopaxi prison, located 100 kilometers from the capital. This operation aimed to transfer several prisoners, including Luis Arboleda, alias "Fat Luis," the second-in-command of the Los Lobos criminal gang, which operates in alliance with the self-proclaimed Nueva Generación Cartel, linked to the Jalisco Nueva Generación Cartel in Mexico.

Another transferred prisoner is known as alias "El invisible," as confirmed by a police source. He is also a leader of Los Lobos and is implicated in various crimes, including murder, extortion, and drug trafficking. El invisible plays a crucial role in the investigation into the murder of presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio and is now held in the high-security La Roca prison.

On the same day, three grenades were discovered in the Ayacucho sector, according to Carolina Andrade, Secretary of Security of Quito. These devices were safely deactivated by the Intelligence Police.

Additionally, 17 forest fires were reported. Mayor of Quito, Pabel Muñoz, described the day as "unusual," attributing it to suspicious motorcycle movements around the fire locations, which were being closely monitored.

For the first car bomb attack in the La Mariscal area, six individuals have been detained, including four Ecuadorians and two Colombians with criminal records. Pablo Ramirez, Director of Investigations, revealed that they had been arrested for truck theft and were previously linked to extortion-related kidnappings in Quito. However, they were released on alternative measures by a judge just fifteen days before the bombing. Judicial offices in Quito have since been safeguarded against potential new attacks.

Chaos has not been confined to the capital. In El Turi prison, located in the province of Azuay, prisoners took control of the facility's rooftops and prevented the entry of military and police personnel. They also held a group of prison guides and police officers, who are part of the internal custody staff. The situation remains unresolved, with no updates from SNAI regarding the status of the hostages. El Turi prison houses approximately 1,200 individuals, many of whom are associated with the Los Lobos criminal gang.

Additionally, an alert was activated for a fire at the Center for Adolescent Offenders in Quito, Virgilio Guerrero, where 90 adolescents detained or serving sentences for various crimes are housed. Government communication entities have yet to provide information on the condition of the young detainees. According to a brief statement from SNAI, "a group of teenagers set mattresses on fire, prompting authorities to take action to safeguard their well-being," with firefighters successfully extinguishing the blaze. Meanwhile, the government's security front convened at Carondelet Palace, led by Secretary of Security Wagner Bravo. President Guillermo Lasso inaugurated 150 houses in the coastal province of Los Ríos.

Luisa González: A Progressive Presidential Contender

Our Ecuadorian brothers and sisters will unfortunately go without the leader they deserved: Luisa González.

González held various positions during President Rafael Correa's tenure, including serving as the head of the Ministry of Labor. She aspired to become Ecuador's first female president in the election held on Sunday, October 22nd.

Luisa describes herself as a "mother, animal activist, and athlete" on her social media profiles and personal website. She represented the presidential candidacy of Revolución Ciudadana (RC), the political force that dominated the primary elections.

Born in Quito in November 1977 but currently residing in Manabí, González is a lawyer with a master's degree in International Economics and Development from the Complutense University of Madrid. During President Rafael Correa's administration, she held key positions, including heading the Ministry of Labor.

Initially affiliated with the Social Christian Party (PSC), for which she ran as a candidate for the National Assembly in 2007, Luisa later aligned herself with the Correa movement and became one of the president's closest allies.

In 2021, she secured a legislative seat for Manabí as part of the Unión por la Esperanza alliance, which was the dominant force within RC. Following President Guillermo Lasso's dissolution of Parliament and the subsequent early elections on June 10, Luisa González emerged as the presidential candidate after former vice president Jorge Glas declined the nomination.

As a mother of two daughters, González sought to make history by becoming Ecuador's first female president. Throughout her campaign, she emphasized three key pillars: security, employment, and well-being. Her platform elaborated on her plans in each of these areas and featured an image of her embracing Rafael Correa, who she announced would serve as her advisor.

Luisa González emphasized the importance of prudent decision-making, stating, "Improvisation is not an option. I must seek out individuals with a proven track record. One of them is Rafael Correa." She clarified that she would be the one making decisions and taking the lead.

Despite a campaign marked by violence, including the recent murder of her opponent, Fernando Villavicencio, Luisa González chose not to wear a bulletproof vest, stating, "I have faith in God; He is our protector." Her Catholic beliefs also influence her stance on abortion, as she does not see being a feminist or progressive as synonymous with supporting abortion.

Regarding regional socialism, she identified the Morena party in Mexico as closely aligned with her vision. She emphasized progressivism based on social justice, akin to figures like Lula da Silva in Brazil and Cristina Fernández in Argentina. Her profile on the National Assembly website, still accessible despite the dissolution of the Legislature, highlights her commitment "to social justice and the defense of human rights." It also underscores her dedication to improving living conditions and promoting citizen participation in political decision-making throughout her career.

Future Prospects and Determination

Although Luisa González did not secure victory on October 15, she and her supporters remain steadfast in holding Daniel Noboa accountable for fulfilling the progressive campaign promises that he adopted to win. Her resolute statement during her speech rallied progressive forces to defend their cause, prevent further losses, and secure new inroads and victories for Ecuador's working class.

The future remains uncertain, and it is unclear whether Daniel Noboa will complete his term. However, Ecuadorians are united in their determination against US imperialism. Much love and strength to all comrades in Ecuador.

Hasta la Victoria Siempre! Venceremos!

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