Ecuador is progressing towards “bukelisation”.

Nayib Bukele decreed the emergency regime in El Salvador for the first time in March last year. A long list of constitutional rights have been suspended for security reasons. It was the recipe of the Salvadoran President, who ironically described himself as “the coolest dictator in the world” to appease the spiral of violence. The Central American country had experienced total terror for 48 hours. The group A total of 87 people were murdered this weekend at the end of March after the government broke its secret pact with the Mara Salvatrucha, digital outlet El Faro has revealed.

Since then, the state of emergency has remained in effect and Bukele has maintained his agenda without counterweights and without resistance. He jailed 71,000 suspected criminals without due process, built the mega prison of San Salvador, militarized the country, instituted mass trials, and consequently beheaded the gangs. El Salvador’s streets, once ransacked by gangs, are comparatively safer. The crime rate and the murder rate show noticeable improvements. Yes, at the cost of arbitrary arrests, torture, overcrowded prisons and other human rights abuses. In addition to a powerful democratic step backwards.

Bukele is today the most respected President of Latin America and the Caribbean. It enjoys a popularity unmatched by any other regional leader. According to the Latinobarómetro public opinion survey, 90% of Salvadorans support him. For this reason many want to copy his method, “bukelize” to satisfy an uncertain public opinion that he views the controversial actions of the Bukele government positively. The President of Honduras, Xiomara Castro, was the first to export this model.

El Salvador.- El Salvadoran journalists denounce Nayib Bukele's criminalization of their profession
El Salvador.- El Salvadoran journalists denounce Nayib Bukele’s criminalization of their professionEurope Press/Contact/Camilo FreEUROPAPRESS

But Ecuador is no stranger to this dynamic either. Its president, Guillermo Lasso, devised a somewhat less vigorous security strategy, but it proved unsuccessful. In the first quarter of 2023 alone, INEC recorded a total of 1,356 violent deaths. In his nearly two years in power, Lasso has decreed more than a dozen exceptional states to mitigate the violence, to no avail. The latter were a reaction to the murders Augustine IntriagoMayor of the city of Manta, and Fernando Villavicencio, one of the eight candidates running in the presidential elections on August 20th.

“In view of these elections, the country has plunged into a very serious crisis. Adding to the acute wave of insecurity fueled by the rise in drug trafficking and massacres of prisoners in prisons is an alarming economic and economic situation growing threat to freedom of expression from organized crime»says Daniel Zovatto, regional director for Latin America and the Caribbean at the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (International IDEA).

“To say that the security crisis in Ecuador stems from the last few years would be quite simplistic,” Gabriela Ortega, Strategic Director of the ALEPH educational institution, told LA RAZÓN. “We had a pretty turbulent period in the early ’90s and late 2000s where we changed as many as three presidents.” At that time, a number of burgeoning gangs began operating locally, which was a gang stronghold. Insignificant compared to the cases in Colombia or Peru. “As early as 2007, these organizations were legalized under the government of Rafael Correa. In fact, they were heavily represented in Correa’s campaign. Many of its members eventually joined the Alianza PAIS. The fact that there were members of these gangs has been normalized. Later they began to have ties to drug trafficking in neighboring countries.. “That’s what got us into the situation we’re in, 23 years and three governments later,” explains Ortega.

Villavicencio’s campaign, which was riddled with gunfire on Wednesday as he left a rally in Quito, precisely proposed building a high-security prison for drug lords, murderers and criminals linked to mafia structures on a military compound in the Ecuadorian jungle. A measure with echoes of Bukelismo. He dreamed of an “impenetrable prison” that could only be reached by plane: “These criminals, drug lords, organized crime, rapists and murderers will be completely isolated in the depths of the jungle.” This military site must be expropriated immediately and we will also start construction immediately.”

However, Villavicencio had more ballast in the fight against corruption than in the fight against drug trafficking. “During the campaign, he did not leave behind this speech, he openly confronted organized crime groups, even naming several leaders of these organizations.” He pointed to corruption cases of Correísmo and accused his candidate Luisa González” , says Ortega.

Ecuador's presidential candidate killed
Ecuador’s presidential candidate killedRELATED PRESSPA

After his murder, the political scientist believes that her voice “Will be blurred around the other three applicants with options: Otto Sonnenholzner, who can unite the youngest vote; Yaku Pérez, who can unite the less ideological constituency as he comes from the left; and finally Jan Topic as the top candidate on security issues. The latter cut more similarly to Bukele.

Ortega guarantees that the speech of the President of El Salvador will be successful in Ecuador. “People want a dictator, a man like Bukele, to put an end to insecurity.”. However, she is skeptical about the achievements of the Salvadoran leader. “The image of a government that has reduced the crime rate has spread in public opinion. But if you do a little scratching and examine the published data, you’ll see some changes that don’t include homicides or deaths caused by security forces, or speak of homicide rates rather than crime rates.

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