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US Offers $5M Reward for Insight Into Ecuador Election Assassination

    US Offers $5M Reward for Insight Into Ecuador Election Assassination
    Last updated Sep 30, 2023
    Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

    Facts

    • US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced Thursday a reward of up to $5M for information leading to the arrest of the masterminds behind the assassination of Ecuadorian presidential hopeful Fernando Villavicencio on Aug. 9.
    • This comes in the run-up to the Oct. 15 second round vote to determine Ecuador's next president, with Blinken claiming that the US would "continue to support the people of Ecuador" while "work[ing] to bring to justice" those who desired to "undermine democratic processes" via crime.
    • The US offered a further $1M reward for information on any high-ranking officials in the gang responsible for the attack, with the FBI supporting the investigation.
    • In the aftermath of the "hitman-style" attack that killed the 59-year-old anti-corruption journalist — who was polling second — and reportedly also injured nine people, a suspect was shot dead and six others were arrested.
    • Days before his death, Villavicencio had denounced death threats from José Adolfo Macías Villamar, alias "Fito," identified as the leader of the Los Choneros gang. His widow, Verónica Sarauz, was reportedly attacked this week by a Venezuelan citizen on a motorcycle in Quito.
    • The news comes after the conclusion of Ecuadorian Pres. Guillermo Lasso's six-day trip to the US, signing a new cooperation agreement focused upon prohibiting illicit transnational maritime activities. Targeted behavior included drug trafficking, organized crime, migrant trafficking, and illegal fishing.

    Spin

    Pro-establishment narrative

    Washington is completely right to ramp up security cooperation with Quito to show that lawful methods do work against violent drug gangs to prevent Ecuador — and Latin America as a whole — from resorting to authoritarian ideas both from the right and the left, as the organized crime poses a significant threat to democracies below the Rio Grande.

    Establishment-critical narrative

    One must be disturbingly naive at best to believe that further US interference is what Ecuador needs after the killing of a presidential candidate who had long been a CIA asset. Though Villavicencio fabricated lies to boost the Russiagate invention and resolutely obstructed the impeachment of US-backed Guillermo Lasso, his candidacy had turned him into a liability for the Agency.

    Nerd narrative

    There's a 60% chance that Ecuador's current state of emergency will be extended beyond 60 days, according to the Metaculus prediction community

    Establishment split

    CRITICAL

    PRO

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