The Colombian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has expressed its condemnation of the assassination of Fernando Villavicencio. The presidential candidate for the elections scheduled for August 20 in Ecuador was killed last night in the Ecuadorian capital. Villavicencio had just finished a political event for his campaign when he was shot dead as he boarded his vehicle.
Colombia’s Solidarity with the Ecuadorian People
In a statement, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs “vehemently condemns the assassination of the presidential candidate of Ecuador, Fernando Villavicencio, who was killed in the attack he suffered during a rally in Quito, and expresses its condolences to his family and supporters.”
“Minister Alvaro Leyva, and the entire government, reaffirm their solidarity with the Ecuadorian people and trust in the strength of the institutions of the sister Republic of Ecuador to clarify the facts and punish those responsible,” added the Ministry’s statement.
Parallels with the Assassination of Galan in Colombia
This crime has revived memories of a recent past in Colombia. On August 18 of this month, the 34th anniversary of the assassination of also presidential candidate Luis Carlos Galan is commemorated. He was killed during a rally in the city of Soacha, south of Bogota. Like Villavicencio, Galan had also campaigned relentlessly against drug trafficking and criminal gangs during a very challenging time for Colombia.
Today, images of the assassination of the Ecuadorian politician bring back memories for many Colombians of that Soacha plaza in 1989 and the hitman action that caused so much harm to the country.
Villavicencio: Political Career as a Correa Opponent
A journalist by training, the presidential candidate had been a member of the Assembly of Ecuador from 2021 to 2023. Initially identified with the moderate left, he later defined himself as a centrist. His political career was built as an opponent of the government of President Rafael Correa (2007-2017). Differences with Correa began in 2010 when he accused the Ecuadorian president of ordering an armed incursion into the Police Hospital, in the context of the crisis of September 30 of that year.
Ultimately, the accusation was dismissed, and legal proceedings were initiated against him after a slander complaint by Rafael Correa. He lived as a fugitive in the Amazon region for a few months until the prescription of his sentence. This did not prevent him from having to pay compensation for the slander he was convicted of.
In 2017, after his failed attempt as a presidential pre-candidate, he sought asylum in Peru and had to face a trial for espionage upon his return. He was acquitted. Finally, in 2021, he was elected a member of the Ecuadorian National Assembly. In the early hours of September 3, 2022, he survived a failed attack on his home, which was under judicial investigation at the time.
Supporter of Confronting Criminal Gangs
In a recent interview, Villavicencio expressed support for a hard line against criminal gangs. He linked drug trafficking with political mafias and claimed he wanted to become president to “confront and defeat the mafias that have co-opted the state and brought society to its knees.”
Supporting the use of all state resources in this fight, “law and weapons,” Villavicencio stated that Ecuador has “a criminal economy funded by drug trafficking, illegal mining (…) and corruption bribes in the public sector.”
2023 Presidential Candidate
After President Lasso advanced the elections to August 20, 2023, Villavicencio quickly launched his candidacy. He officially registered his candidacy on June 12, with Andrea Gonzalez as his vice-presidential running mate.
Fernando Villavicencio’s declared goal as a candidate was to prevent a possible return of the Correismo to the presidency of the country. In fact, in recent years, Villavicencio had brought new accusations against Rafael Correa, this time for alleged irregularities in oil contracts with China. His disagreements with President Guillermo Lasso were also notable.
At the time of his death, he ranked fourth in the polls for the presidential elections.
For the moment, Ecuador has declared a state of emergency, and the electoral campaign has been suspended.