Who Was Ecuador Candidate Fernando Villavicencio? From Rural Youth to Presidential Hopeful

The assassinated politician had a lengthy career in Ecuador’s public sphere. He firmly denounced the governments of Rafael Correa and Guillermo Lasso

Who Was Ecuador Candidate Fernando Villavicencio? From Rural Youth to Presidential Hopeful
By Bloomberg Línea
August 10, 2023 | 09:50 AM

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The assassination of Ecuadorian presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio, who was shot several times upon leaving a political rally this Wednesday, has deeply shocked both the country’s political landscape and society as a whole.

Villavicencio studied journalism at Universidad Cooperativa de Colombia, was a labor unionist, and a career politician. He served as a lawmaker in Ecuador’s National Assembly from May 2021 to May 2023, and was recently fully immersed in the race for the presidency.

From a Rural Youth to Politics

The assassinated presidential candidate was born in 1963 in Sevilla, a district of Alausí, in Chimborazo. He commented in a recent interview with El Universo that he experienced a joyful childhood. “My father had horses, donkeys, cows, chickens. We had a happy life because we had everything. Goat’s milk, which I had every morning with corn.”

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In the same interview, Villavicencio added, “My father was a small peasant producer, mainly of wheat. But the economic crisis forced many people, including my father, to migrate. I had to work peeling fish, shells, as a waiter and a busboy, to support my family and younger siblings.”


Social activism and unions

After studying journalism at university, in the mid-’90s, he joined Petroecuador as a social communicator and also became a unionist. “I’m not an oil worker per se, rather my work was against the oil industry. What I did was investigate and document the impact of the oil industry on Amazonian communities, and I always ended up creating reports against the industry itself,” described Villavicencio.

Throughout his career, he worked as a journalist at El Universo newspaper and Vanguardia magazine. He also served as a leader in the Coordinadora de Movimientos Sociales (Coordinator of Social Movements). He founded the “Investigative Journalism” website, through which he put forward various allegations, primarily about corruption in the public sphere.

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During his political career, he worked as an advisor to lawmaker Cléver Jiménez Cabrera from 2013 to 2014. Together, they accused former President Rafael Correa in 2011 of allegedly ordering an armed incursion into the Police Hospital during the September 30, 2010 uprising. Their lawsuit was dismissed, and Correa counter-sued them for defamation.


Throughout his career, he filed 260 complaints against the Rafael Correa government, leading Correa’s followers to accuse him of being aligned with the current president, Guillermo Lasso. Nevertheless, he stated, “In all the investigations I conducted in the Commission for Oversight of Contracts with China, Lasso’s party voted against them. Every single one. And then they tell me I’m Lasso’s lawyer.”

Between 2021 and 2023, he served as an assembly member, and following the call for elections by the government, Villavicencio ran for the highest office in the country. However, murder ultimately cut short his dreams.