Ecuadorian Presidential Candidate Fernando Villavicencio Shot Dead In Quito

Villavicencio, who was the candidate for the August 20 elections for Movimiento Construye Ecuador, had revealed he had received death threats from alleged drug cartel members

Photo: TV/El Universo
By Ángela Meléndez (EN) - Stephan Kueffner - José Orozco
August 09, 2023 | 07:39 PM

Bloomberg — Ecuadorian presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio was shot dead at an event at a school in Quito on Wednesday, local media reported, citing the late politician’s uncle, Galo Valencia.

President Guillermo Lasso confirmed the killing in a statement, and pledged to bring the culprits to justice.

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Authorities didn’t immediately provide further details. The murder came as warring cocaine cartels have turned the once-peaceful country into one of the most violent places in the world and made crime the top issue for voters in the Aug. 20 presidential election.

Running on an anti-graft ticket, Villavicencio was in second place with 13.5% support, according to one poll published Wednesday.


All the main candidates, from the socialist frontrunner Luisa Gonzalez to the former soldier from the French foreign legion Jan Topic, have made law and order central to their campaigns after the country’s murder rate overtook Mexico’s and Colombia’s last year.

Villavicencio was running as the candidate for the presidential elections on August 20 for the Movimiento Construye Ecuador party.

Videos filmed in the aftermath of the shooting were posted on Twitter.


Earlier on Wednesday, a video of Villavicencio circulated on social media in which he said he had been threatened by an individual he referred to with the alias Fito, an alleged member of the Sinaloa cartel, and who had warned the candidate to desist from referring to him and his “structure”, or “they will attack me”.

He said he did not fear the criminal organization and had been fighting it for the last 20 years, and revealed his plans, if elected, to build a maxium security prison for cartel leaders.

Yaku Pérez, another candidate running in the August 20 elections, expressed his anger in a tweet at “the tragic and reprehensible assassination of Fernando Villavicencio,” and pledged that the murder will not remain in impunity.

“Ecuador does not deserve another death,” he added.


An opponent of the policies of left-wing former president Rafael Correa, in 2014 Villavicencio was sentenced to 18 months in prison for alleged slander against Correa, and remained a fugitive from justice for three years.

After staying in the country’s Indigenous Amazon region, he left Ecuador for Peru, where he was in political asylum until September 18, 2017, during the government of Ecuador’s former president Lenín Moreno, when he returned to Ecuador.

In July, the mayor of the nation’s second-biggest port, Manta, was also shot dead.


Updated, adds paragraphs 3-11 and tweets

With information from Bloomberg