The killing of Ecuadorian presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio has sent shockwaves across the South American nation and the world, prompting an outpouring of grief and calls to tackle rising violence.
President Guillermo Lasso denounced Villavicencio’s assassination late on Wednesday after a campaign event in the capital, Quito, and pledged “that this crime will not remain unpunished”.
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“Organised crime have gone very far, but all the weight of the law will fall on them,” Lasso said.
The president, who declared a nationwide state of emergency after the assassination, said the crime was clearly an attempt to sabotage the election but voting would go ahead as planned on August 20.
Lasso, who is not running for re-election, was joined by Ecuador’s presidential candidates in calling for justice for Villavicencio, and some, including Indigenous candidate Yaku Perez and law-and-order hopeful Jan Topic, suspended their campaigns.
“This makes us all mourn. My solidarity to all his family,” said Luisa Gonzalez, who is leading the presidential race. “This vile act will not go unpunished!”
Villavicencio’s political party, Movimiento Construye, also expressed its shock at the attack. “We have not yet found a way to react to the horror and pain of the assassination of our presidential candidate,” it said.
Here is how the world reacted to the anticorruption campaigner’s killing:
“It’s heartbreaking for him and for his family, for his supporters. And I’m sure that all of Ecuador is grieving right now,” said White House national security spokesman John Kirby.
“We obviously hope that there’ll be a full, complete and transparent investigation into this and that the perpetrators are held properly accountable.”
The US ambassador to Ecuador, Mike Fitzpatrick, said he was “deeply dismayed” by the assassination, describing Villavicencio as a “fighter against the corruption and narco-criminals who have done so much damage to Ecuador”.
“The US government strongly condemns this attack and offers urgent investigative assistance,” he said.
Mexico’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it “regret[s] the acts of violence that occurred in Quito” and expressed its “solidarity with the Ecuadorian government and people”.
“We condemn any violent act that violates the will of the Ecuadorian people, and we hope that peace is restored within the democratic electoral process of our brother country.”
Paraguayan President-elect Santiago Pena said: “We repudiate and condemn the assassination of Ecuadorian presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio.
“We stand with the sister nation of Ecuador at this difficult time.”
The Chilean government expressed “its strong condemnation and deep repudiation of the assassination”, extending condolences to the candidate’s family, as well as the Ecuadorian government and the country’s citizens.
“This unjustifiable fact reminds us of the importance of strengthening democratic coexistence and dialogue as a tool to fight intolerance and violence,” the government said.
“By expressing confidence that those responsible for this deplorable act will be identified and brought to justice, the Brazilian government conveys its heartfelt condolences to the presidential candidate’s family and to the Ecuadorian government and people,” the Brazilian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.
“We strongly condemn the assassination of presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio,” Honduran President Xiomara Castro said. “Defeating organised crime is the mandate of our democracies. Our solidarity with the people of Ecuador.”
The Colombian government said it trusted “in the strength of the institutions of the sister Republic of Ecuador to clarify the facts and punish those responsible”.
“The government rejects this act, which is an attack against the leaders, the people and democracy of the neighbouring country.”
The Spanish government said it “regrets and condemns” Villavicencio’s killing and supported Ecuador in its investigation.
“The government of Spain supports the Ecuadorian electoral process, its democracy and the authorities of that country so that this tragic death is investigated and the guilty parties are brought to justice,” it said.
“China condemns the attack and expresses condolences over the assassination of Villavicencio,” the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement. “China hopes that the Ecuadorian government and relevant parties will maintain the stability of the situation and the upcoming general election will be safe, stable and smooth.”
“The assassination of Mr Fernando Villavicencio … is a barbaric act and an attack on democracy that we condemn in the strongest terms,” the French Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs said.
“We are horrified by the tragic attack,” said the European Union’s ambassador to Ecuador, Charles-Michel Geurts, adding that the bloc expressed its “full support … for security and peaceful elections in the country”.
“Violence cannot win. Democracy can,” he said.
Organization of American States
The Organization of American States Electoral Observation Mission called on the authorities to conduct “a thorough and comprehensive investigation”.
It also urged all political candidates in Ecuador to boost their security measures. “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.”
— OAS (@OAS_official) August 10, 2023