The explosion that left five dead in Guayaquil, the city with the highest number of homicides in Ecuador and under a state of emergency, was an act of “enormous barbarism and irrationality”, Interior Minister Patricio Carrillo said on Monday.
“We are facing acts of enormous barbarism and irrationality such as putting these explosives in the streets, what we are experiencing is of great concern beyond the fact that they are linked to criminal organizations”, Carrillo expressed during a tour of the popular Cristo del Consuelo neighborhood, where the detonation occurred.
The sector woke up blocked by fences and security tapes and guarded by dozens of police and military. The uniformed men took to the streets after the declaration of a state of emergency in the Metropolitan District of Guayaquil (southwest), which includes neighboring Durán and Samborondón.
The decree released this Monday indicates that Guayaquil, with 2.8 million inhabitants, is “the area with the highest rate of intentional homicides” in the country, with 32.5% of cases. So far this year, 861 people have been killed in the city, the nation’s economic hub.
Sunday’s explosion was made with materials “homemade” Y “handcrafted” and killed five people – without a criminal record – and injured 17, of which two are in critical condition, according to the minister.
“These facts and with the number of people who have been affected, the same community that already lives in a state of tension, are enormous damages that we have to repair socially.“, he pointed.
On Sunday, two people aboard a motorcycle threw a sack near a restaurant, inside which were the explosives. The detonation destroyed the walls of nearby houses and affected four vehicles and a motorcycle.
This is not the first attack with explosives in the country. Between January and August, the police have reported 145, of which 72 occurred in the district of Guayaquil.
After the incident on Sunday, Carrillo pointed out that it was an attack by “organized crime mercenaries” and considered it “a declaration of war on the state”.
The government offered US$10,000 for those who provide information on the case and issued a state of emergency that declares Guayaquil, Durán and Samborondón as “security zone”. The measure also suspends the rights to freedom of association and inviolability of the home.
The state of exceptionit is a patchwork solution”, Carolina Andrade, former Undersecretary of Intelligence, told AFP. Last April, the government issued a similar measure in the provinces of Guayas (whose capital is Guayaquil), Esmeraldas and Manabí because of drug trafficking.
For the political scientist and security analyst, the government has not been able to tackle organized crime in a structural way.
“When there is no access to State services, drug trafficking is present and takes over the place, so prevention is important“, Add.
Billy Navarrete, director of the Permanent Committee for Human Rights, agreed with her, pointing out that “the responses to the latest criminal events in the country have been quite anachronistic, which do not go beyond reinforcing police and military control.”
After the latest explosion, the police carried out raids in Cristo del Consuelo and arrested five people for crimes such as possession of weapons. The uniformed officers also seized weapons, drugs and explosives such as pentolite.
Located between Colombia and Peru, the world’s largest producers of cocaine, Ecuador has seized more than 100 tons of drugs in the first half of this year.