Ecuador’s youngest mayor, García shot dead

Ecuador’s youngest mayor, Brigitte García, has been shot dead.

The 27-year-old mayor, along with her press officer, was discovered deceased inside a car on Sunday in the town of San Vicente, where she had achieved victory in the mayoral election the previous year.

As of now, no arrests have been made, and the motive behind the heinous act remains unclear.

Ms. García becomes the latest victim in a string of political assassinations in the Andean country. Last year, Ecuador was shaken by the assassination of presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio.

The bodies of Ms. García and her communications director, Jairo Loor, were found in the early hours of Sunday, local time.

The police report, the fatal shots were fired from within the rented car they were traveling in.

Ms García, a nurse, had been elected mayor of San Vicente for the opposition Citizens’ Revolution party last year at the age of 26.

San Vicente, the town she governed, is located in the province of Manabí.

The coastal region has been particularly badly hit by violence linked to drug gangs that smuggle cocaine to lucrative markets in the US and Europe. Ms García is not the first politician in Manabí to be killed.

In July, a gunman shot dead the mayor of the port city of Manta, Agustín Intriago, who had been recently re-elected.

And in February of 2023, mayoral candidate Omar Menéndez was murdered just hours before polls opened in the city of Puerto López.

The violence has not been confined to Manabí.

In August, presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio was gunned down as he was leaving a campaign rally in the capital, Quito. Prosecutors investigating Villavicencio’s murder said it had been planned from inside jail by members of the Los Lobos criminal gang.
The rise of such gangs led President Daniel Noboa in January to declare a two-month-long state of emergency to combat armed groups.

It was extended by another month on 7 March.

The government says the security forces have carried out more than 150,000 operations since the state of emergency was declared and detained more than 10,000 suspects.

However, critics of the government say Ms García’s murder shows that more needs to be done to guarantee the safety of elected officials.

Luisa González, who was defeated by Mr Noboa in the presidential election, wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter, that “nobody is safe in Ecuador”.

 

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