Ecuador's Youngest Mayor Found Shot Dead

Police authorities found the mayor of San Vicente, Ecuador, Brigitte García shot dead on Sunday alongside her communications director, Jairo Loor.

García, 27 at the time of her death, was the youngest mayor in the South American country, and was the latest politician and/or government official murdered in the crime-plagued nation.

Ecuador’s National Police announced on Sunday through social media that officials found García and Loor’s bodies inside a vehicle, presenting gunshot wounds. Hours later, the police further said they had determined the gunfire had not come from outside the vehicle. The police noted in its second announcement that the vehicle appears to be rented, adding that officers are tracking the vehicle’s GPS data and continuing investigations with the corresponding authorities.

The Ecuadorian government released a statement on Sunday condemning the deaths of García and Loor. Quito said government authorities are working with the province’s attorney general and have instructed the National Police to carry out actions leading to a swift investigation to determine the intellectual and material authors of the crime.

García’s death occurs at a time when Ecuador is under a state of exception decree and a formal “internal armed conflict” declaration against more than 20 of the nation’s most dangerous gangs. The emergency provisions were both issued in January in response to a dramatic wave of gang violence that resulted in kidnappings, prison riots, a hostage situation in one of the country’s television channels, and the “disappearance” of José Adolfo Macías from his prison cell in Guayaquil.

Macías, commonly known as “Fito,” is Ecuador’s “most-wanted criminal” and the leader of Los Choneros, one of the most dangerous gangs in Ecuador.

García was a member of the leftist Citizen Revolution movement party, led by former socialist President Rafael Correa (2007-2017), who has lived in exile in Belgium since 2018 and is currently avoiding an eight-year prison sentence for corruption after courts sentenced him in absentia in 2020. Correa described García’s murder as an assassination on his social media accounts.

García is the latest in a string of Ecuadorian government officials or politicians who have been killed.

In August, weeks before the 2023 presidential election, journalist and presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio was assassinated by armed men as he left one of his campaign events. Villavicencio was running an anti-socialist, anti-China, anti-corruption campaign, and was a victim of persecution during Correa’s government. Villavicencio’s journalist work was crucial in exposing a vast corruption and graft network that involved Correa, leading to his conviction in 2020.

In July, mayor of Manta Agustín Intriago was shot dead as he carried out an inspection of sewage works in one of Manta’s neighborhoods.

In February 2023, Omar Menéndez, who was running for mayor of Puerto López, was shot dead hours before polls opened. Menéndez won the election and was replaced by Verónica Lucas, who is now serving what would have been Menéndez’s term.

Current President Daniel Noboa had one of his campaign events interrupted by a nearby shootout in the town of Durán. No injuries were reported following the incident.

Shortly after taking office, Noboa implemented the “Phoenix Plan,” an outline of security-related measures to curb Ecuador’s out-of-control crime, gang violence, and drug trafficking problems.

As of March, Ecuadoran security forces have reportedly carried out over 177,000 security operations that have resulted in the arrests of over 13,200 individuals.

Noboa’s security plan also calls for the construction of two “mega-prisons” similar in nature to the one built by Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele in 2023. Construction works for the two prisons are slated to finish by the end of 2024.

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


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