Ecuador’s President Guillermo Lasso declared a state of emergency and night curfew on Monday in three coastal areas of the country, amid a wave of violence over the weekend that has left at least eight people dead.
Lasso declared a 60-day state of emergency in the provinces of Manabí and Los Ríos and in the city of Durán, near Guayaquil, after Agustín Intriago, mayor of the port city of Manta, was shot dead on Sunday.
This episode was added to the riots over the weekend at the Litoral Penitentiary, in Guayaquil, where clashes between gangs broke out.
The decision adds to a series of other emergency declarations made by Lasso in recent years, as Ecuador struggles with prison riots and violent episodes on its soil.
“We cannot deny that organized crime has permeated the State, political organizations and society itself, it is a problem that has been brewing for more than a decade,” Lasso said at the end of a meeting of his security cabinet. “This is the most important issue in Ecuador.”
Clashes at the jail over the weekend left at least six inmates dead and 11 others injured, the SNAI prison agency said.
After the violent acts, the prisoners detained some 96 prison security agents in the prisons of Cotopaxi, Azuay, Cañar, El Oro and Napo, and are on a hunger strike that began on Sunday in 13 of the 36 Ecuadorian prisons, without revealing the reasons for such a measure.
The South American country’s prison system has faced structural problems for decades, but prison violence has skyrocketed since 2021, leaving hundreds of prisoners dead in frequent confrontations, which has aroused the concern of the United Nations and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.