Johan Klok2022-08-16T20:12:00

Opinions from security specialists from Cuenca about the spike in violence in Ecuador

Today, the newspaper El Mercurio from Cuenca published an article with the header (translated in English) "The acts of violence in the country create fear." For this article, the newspaper interviewed several local security specialists. Below you find the key points from this article.

  • Ecuador is suffering from car bombs, attacks on national security targets, kidnappings, hired assassins, armed robberies, prison massacres, extortions, and attacks with explosives.
  • This violence leaves dozens of dead people every day, creates a feeling of insecurity, and creates a bad image of the country abroad.
  • There is a concern that the violent events that occur on the coast may spread to the province of Azuay.

Patricio Romero, a lawyer and criminology researcher:

  • Turi (a village directly south of Cuenca) is home to one of Ecuador's three largest prisons.
  • Massacres have been reported in this prison.
  • It cannot be ruled out that the violence in the province of Guayas will move to Cuenca.
  • There are already signs that this violence is moving to Cuenca.
  • One sign is that business owners in Cuenca are extorted by threatening them with their lives or the lives of their family members.
  • At the beginning of August, two bodies in plastic bags were found near the Hospital del Río. The bodies belonged to men from Guayaquil and Santo Domingo. The authorities believe that these murders were the result of a dispute over the territory for the sale of drugs in Cuenca.

Walter Villaroel, commander of the National Police in Zone 6 (the administrative zone to which Cuenca and the province of Azuay belong):

  • “I'm sure we're not going to reach that level [the level of crime in Guayaquil]; however, there is criminal influence, we cannot deny that there are events that are taking place in the province of Azuay (...)”
  • In Cuenca, there is a large number of cases of domestic violence and drunkenness which have to be dealt with by the National Police.

Felipe Camacho, a former director of the Cuenca Citizen Security Council (CSC), a former member of the Cuenca Citizen Guard (GCC, municipal police of Cuenca), and a current major in the Cuenca Fire Department:

  • The crime rates have increased in Cuenca and the province of Azuay because of three reasons.
  • Reason 1: "(...) some types of crimes have been imported from other countries since there is a large number of people who enter the country, some even with a criminal record..."
  • Reason 2: home delivery services are misused by criminals to monitor the movement of homeowners to rob them.
  • Reason 3: the creation of the prison in Turi has led to the arrival of criminals who are related to those who are imprisoned.

Renan Velasco, a former colonel of the National Police and a former director of the Antinarcotics Headquarters in Azuay:

  • Bad political decisions in especially the last 10 years have dismantled the institutionality of the National Police and other organizations responsible for combating insecurity.
  • The nearly 50 neighborhood brigades in Cuenca have stopped working in cooperation with the National Police as they did initially.
  • The current criminal legislation is "proreo", that is, it benefits criminals and condemns police officers under arguments such as deficiencies in police procedures.
  • The selection of personnel for the National Police should be improved to prevent bad elements from entering the organization.

William Cobo, a former colonel of the Armed Forces (FF.AA) and a former commander of the Cuenca Citizen Guard (GCC, municipal police of Cuenca):

  • Although the National Government is responsible for security, the municipalities should also help to combat insecurity in their jurisdictions.
  • In the case of Cuenca, the Cuenca Citizen Guard should help the National Police in dealing with cases of drunkenness, so that the National Police can work exclusively on security issues.
  • It's necessary to control the street sales and the disorder that exists in Cuenca because this also affects the safety of citizens.
  • It's not appropriate for the Municipality of Cuenca to seek to take charge of the Turi prison because the municipality doesn't have the operational and strategic security capacity to deal with this prison.
  • In the Turi prison, intelligence and strategic operations need to be applied because the prison has already been taken over by international criminal organizations.