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Ecuador Declares “Internal Armed Conflict”


Ecuador internal armed conflict
Ecuador declares “internal armed conflict – Credit: Presidency of Ecuador / Public Domain

Ecuador has declared an “internal armed conflict”, after the serious disturbances that the country has been experiencing since last weekend. President Daniel Noboa had decreed a state of emergency, due to the disturbances in several prisons of the country, with more than a hundred officials being held by the inmates. The violence, far from abating, exploded with all its virulence yesterday, Tuesday, with attacks, kidnappings and car explosions in several Ecuadorian cities.

Of all these acts of violence, the most spectacular was the entry of an armed group into a program being broadcast live on Ecuador’s state television, TC de Televisión. This is the first major challenge to be faced by the Ecuadorian president, who has only been in power for a few weeks, and who promised a hard hand against armed groups linked to drug trafficking. The challenge for the State is huge, as it seems that all-out war between Ecuador and the drug gangs has begun. In the minds of many is the continuing violence in Mexico, spanning almost two decades since the war against drug trafficking was declared by former President Felipe Calderon in 2006.

Drug traffickers declare war on the State

The state of emergency decree provoked a response from the different illegal groups linked to drug trafficking, which declared war on the State. This was acknowledged by the president himself, who said yesterday that he had “ordered the Armed Forces to carry out military operations to neutralize these groups”.

Ecuador is immersed in an upsurge of violence and insecurity that has led its president, Daniel Noboa, to declare “the existence of an internal armed conflict” in the country. In addition, he has ordered the Armed Forces to “execute military operations” under International Humanitarian Law, and respecting human rights, with the objective of “neutralizing” the armed groups.

The text declares 22 gangs as terrorist organizations, such as Los Águilas, the group Los Lobos, the well-known Latin Kings, the criminal gang Los Tiburones or the one linked to the Mexican drug trafficking cartel, Los Choneros, among others. The declaration of Internal Armed Conflict comes the day after Noboa declared a state of emergency for 60 days and a night curfew. In the last hours, there have also been prison escapes, kidnappings of police and prison officers, car bomb explosions and an assault on the University of Guayaquil.

A huge offensive, attributed to the mafias and numerous armed groups linked to drug trafficking, has been launched against the government.

13 people arrested for television raid

Violence has long since taken over a country that has demonstrated its inability to deal with drug gangs. The paroxysm was experienced in images that went around the world yesterday. Armed hooded men burst into the television channel TC, in the city of Guayaquil in eastern Ecuador, and took its workers hostage during a live broadcast.

In the images, several men covered with balaclavas and armed with rifles and grenades are seen holding the channel’s employees on the ground, demanding that they ask the police to leave the premises. Subsequently, several features and shouts of people are heard while the live broadcast continues. The events occurred at two o’clock noon local time and forty minutes later the Ecuadorian channel suspended the broadcast.

The Ecuadorian police confirmed the deployment of the force in the vicinity of the TC Televisión studios, and later confirmed the evacuation of some of the workers, as well as of the injured. In a publication on the social network X, he also said that some of the assailants had been arrested.

Finally, the assault ended with the arrest of 13 people and the release of the retained workers.

Solidarity with Ecuador and support for its government

The expressions of solidarity with Ecuador and support to its government have come from all over the world and from all political positions. In this sense, the President of Colombia, Gustavo Petro, rejected the violence in the neighboring country, while showing his support to Daniel Noboa. In this sense, through the Foreign Ministry, he warned his “explicit and unequivocal support to the institutionality and the rule of law” in Ecuador and rejected the violent events that have occurred in different Ecuadorian cities.

Similarly, former Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa also expressed his support for his country’s government. “All support President Daniel Noboa,” Correa wrote in his X account, and assured that “organized crime has declared war on the State.” The former president, who has been living in Belgium since the end of his decade-long term in 2017, exclaimed that in this war against organized crime “the State must emerge triumphant.”

The Mexican experience

In the minds of many Ecuadorians is what happened in Mexico after President Felipe Calderon declared total war against drug trafficking in December 2006. Since then, massacres and attacks by various groups of drug traffickers, as well as the forced disappearance of people, have been commonplace. In this last aspect, the most remembered case was the Iguala disappearance, in 2014, when in the midst of clashes 43 students disappeared, when they were going to take buses to move to Mexico City. Finally, the students were murdered and incinerated in the Cocula landfill by members of Guerreros Unidos for being considered part of a rival group, Los Rojos.

The result of this all-out war was more than 350,000 dead by October 2021 and some 109,000 missing by 2022 alone. Up to this moment, the Mexican State has not been able to defeat the multiplicity of illegal armed groups that, thanks to drug trafficking, have achieved a notable endowment in armament and an important capacity of control in diverse strata of Mexican society.

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