Ecuador is headed to the second round of presidential elections with two candidates who support social measures as their primary strategy for addressing the wave of violence terrorizing the country.
In the first round of elections on August 20, Luisa González of the Citizen Revolution Movement (Movimiento Revolución Ciudadana), and Daniel Noboa of National Democratic Action (Acción Democrática Nacional – ADN) finished first and second, with 33.25% and 23.73% of the votes respectively. They will proceed to the second round scheduled for October 15.
In the coming weeks of campaigning, both candidates will have to address the security issues facing the country, which has seen a 74% increase in violent deaths in the first six months of 2023, including the assassination of a presidential candidate.
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Despite the extreme violence currently plaguing Ecuador, both candidates head into the second round on platforms that reject the use of military force as the solution to the problem, instead favoring social measures.
González, for example, supports reinstating the Ministries of Justice and Security Coordination, which were absorbed by other ministries after President Rafael Correa’s presidency (2007-2017). She has also proposed that the state increase gun control, create reinsertion and social rehabilitation programs for criminals, and strengthen security forces by investing in research, intelligence, and technology.
Noboa has proposed policies that reinforce the judicial system and train police forces in conflict resolution. He also wants to increase community policing, improve conditions in prisons, and offer alternatives to incarceration. But in an interview with Primicias digital news outlet before the elections, Noboa also said he is in favor of using the armed forces to militarize the borders to prevent drugs entering the country.
The positions of both candidates reflect public opinion in the months leading up to the August 20 elections. In a February referendum, Ecuadorians voted against a proposal in favor of extraditing criminals to the United States.
President Guillermo Lasso proposed the extradition measure in an attempt to increase national security. Lasso has also declared multiple states of emergency, announced the construction of new prisons, and militarized existing penitentiaries.
However, none of these measures have stopped the rise in violence that appears to be linked to international cocaine trafficking, among other factors.
The electoral results contrast with the “mano dura,” or iron fist, policies favored by other countries in the region, like El Salvador and Honduras. Both candidates, however, outlined their security proposals prior to Villavicencio’s assassination, and their proposals could change.
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