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Ecuador: presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio assassinated

According to the latest polls, he was in second place in voters' preferences. He was thought to be the most critical opponent of former leftist president Rafael Correa.

Fernando Villavicencio

Fernando Villavicencio / Wikimedia Commons.

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The right-wing candidate for the presidency of Ecuador, Fernando Villavicencio, was assassinated Wednesday afternoon while leaving a campaign event in the north of Quito, the country's capital. His sister denounced a plot behind his murder.

According to reports, the incident occurred around 6:00 p.m. (local time), when gunmen arrived at the school where the rally was being held and began shooting at the candidate.

Dr. Carlos Figueroa, a friend of the candidate on the scene at the time of the shooting, was one of the first to confirm Villavicencio's death.

Witnesses claim that the shot that killed the candidate came from a revolver fired by a man of short stature. Although there are no further details of the incident, the authorities have already begun an operation to locate the shooter.

More victims of the attack

According to information shared by local authorities, the attack also left nine people injured, including an Assembly candidate and two policemen.

Villavicencio's sister denounces plot

Patricia Villavicencio, the candidate's sister, suggested that her brother was killed because some people did not want him to expose the corruption in the country. Patricia also clarified that if anything happened to her and the rest of her family, she would hold the government, Rafael Correa and "his criminal gangs" responsible.

"They killed democracy (...) This government did nothing to protect him. It is a plot (...) They will not silence us", she said.

Suspect dies

The attorney general's office reported through social networks that a suspect in the candidate's murder was wounded during crossfire and died while being transferred into custody.

Ecuadorians come out to protest

According to the report of La Derecha Diario, a group of demonstrators took to the streets and pointed to Rafael Correa as the culprit of the assassination, saying he is "linked to the gang that assassinated the right-wing candidate Fernando Villavicencio."

Second in voting intentions

Recent polls placed Villavicencio (the most critical opponent of Rafael Correa) in second place. Of the eight presidential candidates, the first in the polls is lawyer Luisa Gonzalez, a supporter of former president Correa.

Villavicencio denounced threats

Villavicencio reported receiving threats from an organized crime group a few weeks before he was killed. The State Attorney General's Office was investigating this information.

Other politicians assassinated

Recently, two other Ecuadorian politicians were also shot and killed in the country. One of them was Agustin Intriago, a mayor with a reputation for incorruptibility in charge of the city of Manta, considered an essential arrival and departure point for cocaine shipments.

Last month, Rider Sanchez, a candidate for a seat in the National Assembly, was also shot and killed. Other politicians have denounced that they are also receiving threats.

"Considering that the country is facing a special general election, I would not be surprised if he is not the last mayor to be assassinated this year," said Wolf Grabendorff, an expert on international relations and Latin American security issues, at the time Intriago was killed.