Ecuador voters back tougher security to fight gang violence


Ecuadorans voted in favor of allowing the military to patrol their streets to improve security in the country. This decision came after Ecuador experienced a surge in violence, making it the country with the highest murder rate in Latin America. The referendum also included measures for longer prison terms and the extradition of violent criminals.

President Daniel Noboa initiated the referendum following a series of high-profile murders, including the assassination of a presidential candidate and several mayors. The situation escalated when a top gang leader escaped from jail, leading to prison riots and violence on live television.

Many people felt safer with increased military presence on the streets, but others, like Carmen Elena, who lost her brother to gang violence, were against militarization, believing it isn’t the solution.

Some individuals, like “El Gato,” a former drug dealer, blamed their involvement in crime on poverty and lack of opportunities. Despite his past, “El Gato” supported the security measures, arguing that widespread crime made it difficult for people to leave illegal activities.

Violent crimes, like express kidnappings and drug-related offenses, have become common in Ecuador, influenced by its geographical location between major cocaine-producing countries.

The referendum also addressed issues like legalizing hourly work contracts to reduce unemployment and crime. However, some fear the new security measures could lead to human rights abuses, with incidents like arbitrary detentions already reported.

Human rights groups advocate for investing in education and addressing the root causes of crime, rather than relying solely on military intervention. They also highlight the role of wealthier nations’ demand for drugs in perpetuating violence in countries like Ecuador.

President Noboa welcomed the referendum’s approval, emphasizing its importance in fighting crime and restoring peace to Ecuadoran families. However, concerns remain about potential negative consequences and the need for balanced approaches to address security issues.


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