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Ecuador is a country in South America whose main international claim to fame is an archipelago in the Pacific Ocean known as the Galápagos Islands, a secluded paradise of biodiversity whose inhabitants don't fear humans as much as the rest of the world due to the place mostly being free of them. Iconic critters include the finches that pop culture attributes to Charles Darwin's theory of evolution, and the Galápagos tortoise, the largest in the world. The country was also known for being Julian Assange's hideout, until he was kicked out in 2019.


Ecuador is notable for their indigenous groups, represented by CONAIE (Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador), which were responsible for overthrowing three of the country's leaders within the span of 1997-2005.[1] Things calmed down for a while when leftist leader Rafael CorreaWikipedia got elected as part of South America's Pink Tide, as he succeeded in significantly reducing the country's inequality[2] while also promising not to drill the oil in Yasuni National Park, in exchange for a huge sum of money from the United Nations. Unable to acquire the money, he backtracked and started drilling, which naturally pissed off the indigenous tribes living there.

His former Vice-President Lenín MorenoWikipedia got elected in 2017 and proceeded to backstab Correa by backtracking on his entire leftist agenda while preventing him from ever running again. Though Ecuadorians were initially relieved to have a new face, they steadily became more and more annoyed with his neoliberal policies.[3] This came to a head in October 2019, when he cancelled fuel subsidies as part of an austerity package that came with a $4.2 billion IMF loan, sending fuel prices sky-high and sparking mass protests so intense that his government had to flee the capital of Quito. However, he ultimately managed to keep his position as leader by reaching a deal with the country's indigenous groups, including backtracking on the fuel subsidies.[4]

Protests in 2022 saw an Ecuadorian protester get a tear gas grenade lodged into their eye-socket. The government claimed that the protester mishandled one of their own explosives, but brain-scans were released clearly show the grenade lodged into the victim's skull.[5] Reddit has a video of the incident, but viewer discretion is advised.[6]

Instead of criminalizing gang membership, Ecuador legalized gang membership and allowed gang members to register with the government as members of cultural associations able to receive benefits like other people.[7] A study was done in 2017 that found that after gang membership was legalized, murder rates plummeted.[8][7] It turns out that when one doesn't treat people like criminals, but instead members of a valid social group, they don't behave like criminals.[7]

Assassination of Fernando Villavicencio[edit]

The anti-corruption presidential candidate Fernando VillavicencioWikipedia was assassinated on 9 August 2023. Authorities blame the cartels for the killing, which have been infesting Ecuador and resulting in a plague of drug and human trafficking over the last year.[9] The Ecuadorian hitman gang Los LobosWikipedia were blamed for the attack, and a video was released purportedly featuring men from Los Lobos claiming responsibility.[10] However, another video was soon released by men also claiming to be from Los Lobos, alleging that they had been framed.[11]

A state of emergency was declared for the following 90 days. However, the elections were not delayed despite the assassination. Ecuadorian troops had been ordered to be placed throughout the country during the state of emergency. This included the suspension of civil rights including unlimited freedom of assemblyWikipedia and the "inviolability of the home."[12] Many politicians in Ecuador have used the assassination of Villavicencio as an excuse to call for "tough on crime" measures to be passed.[13][note 1]

Former Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa has said that Ecuador has turned into a "failed state" in response to the assassination.[14] Villavicencio had received previous death threats for his relentless campaigning against corruption and powerful narco-lobbies. He once declared he would prevent Ecuador from turning into a "narco-state".Wikipedia[note 2] The end result was obvious for everyone to see.[15]


  1. Evidently not learning from the examples provided by Mexico and the United States' own disastrous "war on crime" campaigns.
  2. The two dominant cartels, or mafias, in Ecuador today are the Mexican Sinaloa CartelWikipedia and the Albanian mafia.Wikipedia Villavicencio received death threats from both.[15]


  1. Indigenous anger potent political weapon in Ecuador
  2. Ecuador After Ten Years of President Correa: New Paper Examines Key Indicators, Reforms, and Policy Changes
  3. Moreno’s approval rating tumbles as popular concern grows over border violence
  4. Ecuador's Moreno, indigenous groups reach deal to end protests
  5. Briefing: Ecuador's National Strike[a w]Rethink Politics
  6. NSFL: Ecuadorian Protests: Active tear gas canister shot directly into protestor's eye socket remains lodged in victim's skull. Official government statement is that the victim caused this unto himself by "handling" an explosive device[a w]r/PublicFreakout
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Ecuador legalized gangs like the Latin Kings. Murder rates plummeted.[a w] by Vox, '
  8. Social Inclusion from Below: The Perspectives of Street Gangs and Their Possible Effects on Declining Homicide Rates in Ecuador[a w]Inter-American Development Bank
  9. "A presidential candidate in Ecuador has been shot and killed at a campaign event" - NPR. Published August 9th, 2023.
  10. "Dudas sobre la veracidad de un video en que la banda criminal Los Lobos se responsabiliza del asesinato de Fernando Villavicencio". Infobae. 10 August 2023. 
  11. "Ecuador politician murder: Prison gangs in terror reign". BBC News. 10 August 2023. 
  12. "Ecuador declara el estado de excepción tras el asesinato del candidato Villavicencio". El Mundo. 10 August 2023. 
  13. Fernando Villavicencio assassinated at campaign event - The Telegraph. Published August 10th, 2023.
  14. Who was Fernando Villavicencio: Presidential Hopeful Shot Dead in Ecuador - Al Jazeera. Published August 10th, 2023.
  15. 15.0 15.1 Fernando Villavicencio promised to crack down on Ecuador’s ‘narco state.’ It made him powerful enemies. - CNN via MSN. Published August 10th, 2023.