Ecuador declares state of emergency amid prison chaos

QUITO – Ecuadorean President Daniel Noboa on Monday declared a state of emergency for 60 days a day after the country’s most-wanted prisoner disappeared from the jail where he was being held.

WHY IT’S IMPORTANT

The state of emergency and surrounding events are among the first big security tests for Noboa, a young businessman who took office in November promising to crack down on soaring levels of violence in the South American country.

KEY QUOTES

“I have just signed a state of emergency decree so that the Armed Forces have all the political and legal support for their actions,” said Noboa.

“The time is over when drug trafficking convicts, hitmen and organized crime dictate to the government what to do.”

CONTEXT

Ecuador’s prison agency said there were “incidents” on Monday at six of the country’s overcrowded prisons, where clashes between rival gangs are frequent and have left more than 400 prisoners dead since 2021.

On Sunday, Adolfo Macias, leader of the Los Choneros criminal gang, disappeared from the prison where he was serving a 34-year sentence.

WHAT’S NEXT

The state of emergency deploys the military onto the streets and into prisons, while setting a national nighttime curfew.

Previous governments have resorted in recent years to states of emergency in efforts boost security, but without major results. REUTERS

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