The decade's most triggering comedy
The Biden administration reportedly plans to send FBI agents to Ecuador to investigate the assassination of right-wing presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio, who was shot multiple times on Wednesday after leaving a political rally.
Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso posted on X that he requested aid from the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation.
“The U.S. Federal Investigation and Intelligence Agency accepted our request and in the next few hours a delegation will arrive in the country,” Lasso wrote.
In comments reported by CNN, Lasso said, “Organized crime has come a long way, but the full weight of the law will fall on them,” and declared a national state of emergency for 60 days, three days of national mourning, and deployed armed forces across the country.
Although FBI officials have not confirmed the report, it’s common for the bureau to launch investigations in allied nations, Bloomberg reported.
Villavicencio, a journalist who covered government corruption before entering politics, was killed ten days before the presidential election was scheduled. The 59-year-old candidate reportedly campaigned on building safety in the country by focusing on five pillars: citizens, food, economics, environment, and health.
Villavicencio was married and is survived by five children, the Associated Press reported.
“The assassination of Ecuadorian presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio, an outspoken opponent of organized crime, is a brazen attack on democracy and the rule of law,” Brian Nichols, the assistant U.S. Secretary of State for the Western Hemisphere, said in a post on X. “We urge a swift and thorough investigation by the appropriate authorities and offer our support.”
National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby told CNN it was not what “anybody would want” for Ecuadorean democracy.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken condemned the assassination of the Ecuadorian presidential candidate and offered condolences to his family and the people of Ecuador in a statement on X.
“We stand ready to support local authorities to bring the perpetrators of this heinous act to justice,” he said.
According to CNN, at least nine other people were injured in the incident, including a candidate for the National Assembly and two police officers.
Ecuador’s Attorney General’s Office said authorities arrested the seven suspects, including the alleged killer, who later died from wounds received while he exchanged gunfire with a security detail.
The suspects allegedly include foreign nationals and members of organized criminal groups, according to Interior Minister Juan Zapata, who said authorities found a rifle, a machine gun, four pistols, three grenades, two rifle magazines, four boxes of ammunition, two motorcycles, and a stolen vehicle.
“The Ecuadorian people are crying, and Ecuador is mortally wounded,” Patricio Zuquilanda, Villavicencio’s campaign adviser, told the Associated Press. “Politics cannot lead to the death of any member of society.”
Villavicencio was known for speaking up against cartels, who have recently started using the country’s coastal ports and have revamped violence in the South American nation not seen in decades. According to the Associated Press, Mexico’s Sinaloa cartel affiliates had recently threatened him after the group began operating in Ecuador.
In 2014, he was sentenced to 18 months in prison for allegedly slandering former left-wing President Rafael Correa, according to a report from Bloomberg’s Latin America news division. He remained a fugitive for three years and was granted political asylum in Peru, where he stayed until 2017.
After returning to the country, Villavicencio went to Ecuador’s attorney general and accused the government of misusing public resources in the “commercialization of crude oil between Ecuador and private company PetroChina,” which he estimated resulted in billions of dollars in loss for the country.
During his final speech moments before being assassinated, Villavicencio vowed to imprison more criminals, take on corruption in Ecuador, and directly named José Adolfo Macía — better known by the alias “Fito” — the detained leader of the Ecuadorian gang known as Los Choneros.
“Here I am showing my face,” Villavicencio said. “I’m not scared of them.”