Anti-corruption presidential candidate assassinated at campaign event in Ecuador’s capital (Video)

QUITO, Ecuador (AP) — An Ecuadorian presidential candidate known for speaking up against corruption was shot and killed Wednesday at a political rally in the capital amid a wave of startling violence in the South American country.


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President Guillermo Lasso confirmed the assassination of Fernando Villavicencio and suggested organized crime was behind his slaying, less than two weeks before the Aug. 20 presidential election.

“I assure you that this crime will not go unpunished,” Lasso said in a statement. “Organized crime has gone too far, but they will feel the full weight of the law.”

Villavicencio was one of the eight candidates for the presidency for the elections on August 20. He became a presidential candidate after a short political career, but a long one in public life. He was a national assemblyman between 2021 and 2023, where he chaired the Political Oversight and Control Commission. During his time in the Legislature, he was an independent assemblyman and did not join any of the coalitions. He promoted investigations, especially on oil issues, on the governments of Rafael Correa, Lenín Moreno and the current one, of Guillermo Lasso . His largest investigation as an assembly member was in the Petrochina case , in which he denounced a corruption scheme in oil brokerage. His last job in the Assembly was leading the impeachment trial against President Lasso. In that role, he was harshly criticized by Correísmo for an alleged closeness to the government, but he defended himself, accusing the opposition of acting without evidence. In the Assembly, he directed the Anti-Corruption Parliamentary Front, from where he also filed several complaints, including alleged links between candidates and drug trafficking.

Prior to the shooting, Villavicencio said he had received multiple death threats, including from leaders of Mexico’s Sinaloa Cartel, one of a slew of international organized crime groups that now operate in Ecuador.

Ecuador’s President Guillermo Lasso confirmed the assassination of the country’s presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio and said that a meeting of the security cabinet would be held in a few minutes. “Outraged and shocked by the murder of presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio… In memory of him and in the name of his struggle, I assure you that this crime will not go unpunished. A meeting of the security cabinet will be held in the presidential palace in a few minutes,” Lasso wrote on the social network X.

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