A political activist for the Revolución Ciudadana (RC5) party in Ecuador’s Esmeraldas province was assassinated on Monday, as confirmed by RC5’s presidential candidate Luisa González. Few details about the death activist Pedro Briones are public, other than the fact that it occurred in the northern part of Esmeraldas. This comes less than one week after presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio was assassinated at a campaign event in Quito.
“Ecuador is living its bloodiest era,” González said. “Change is urgent!”
RC5, a self-described “movement of the progressive left,” is currently leading the polls for Ecuador’s August 20 presidential election. The election follows the March dissolution of the National Assembly by President Guillermo Lasso and has been marked by heightened violence, including the two assassinations. The Organization of American States (OAS), who will be monitoring the election, called for more security to protect democratic norms in the wake of Villavicencio’s death:
We urge all candidates to strengthen their security measures and call upon the authorities to provide the necessary support to guarantee the integrity of the participants in the electoral process. The security of candidates is fundamental to maintaining confidence in the democratic system and ensuring that the voices of all citizens can be heard freely and without fear.
Ecuador has been experiencing escalating violence for the past three years. Though the violence has multiple causes, many incidents relate to drug trafficking and the power of cartels and street gangs. Struggles over power and economic instability due to the COVID-19 pandemic have all contributed to a heightened crisis. “No one is safe from the insecurity in the country,” one person told the Associated Press. “We are at the hands of drug trafficking, of evil in its entirety.”