Ecuadorian Political Leader Shot and Killed

( – A local Ecuadoran political leader was murdered last Monday just days after presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio was assassinated, The Hill reported.

Pedro Briones, the local leader of presidential candidate Luisa González’s leftist Revolución Ciudadana party in the rural area of San Mateo de Esmeraldas, was shot and killed in the province of Esmeraldas in northern Ecuador.

González confirmed Briones’ murder in a post on X.

Briones’ killing comes just days after Fernando Villavicencio was fatally shot after a political rally in the capital of Quito on August 9, despite a security detail that included bodyguards and police.

A member of the Build Ecuador Movement, Villavicencio was one of eight candidates in last Sunday’s special presidential election.

According to the Associated Press, Villavicencio took a tough position on corruption and organized crime.

Over the last three years, thousands have been killed in Ecuador as the country devolved into a significant drug trafficking hub with local gangs battling for control of the streets, drug routes, and prisons.

Luisa González told the Associated Press that she made changes to her security detail after Villavicencio’s assassination but refuses to wear a bulletproof vest, explaining that her faith is in God who will take care of her.

González, who will face centrist Daniel Noboa in the October run-off election, has criticized President Guillermo Lasso’s government for failing to control detention facilities, which she said have been turned into production centers for organized crime.

The US State Department placed a Level 2 travel advisory on Ecuador in June, warning that travelers to the country should “exercise extreme caution” due to the violence, crime, and kidnapping.

After Villavicencio was assassinated, the US Embassy in Quito warned people to steer clear of crowds and demonstrations in the area.

Authorities have yet to disclose a motive for Villavicencio’s assassination. On August 11, a judge ordered preventative detention for six Columbian nationals who were described by authorities as suspects in his murder.

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