The OAS condemned the murder of a candidate for mayor in Ecuador and demanded that the Government conduct a prompt investigation

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Juan Pablo Corlazzoli, head of the observation mission for the local elections this Sunday, also expressed the international organization's concern about the increase in cases of Political violence in the country: “I would say that this is the first time that this fact, so adverse and negative for democracy, is being verified”

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The OAS condemned the murder of a mayoral candidate in Ecuador and demanded a prompt investigation from the Government

Omar Menéndez, candidate for mayor of the canton (municipality) of Puerto López, was assassinated on Saturday

The head of the electoral observation mission of the Organization of American States (OAS) for local elections and the referendum constitution in Ecuador, the Uruguayan Juan Pablo Corlazzoli, described this Sunday as “very worrying” the situation of political violence in Ecuador, with some candidates assassinated.

In statements to the news agency EFE after visiting one of the voting precincts in Quito, Corlazzoli reiterated the OAS condemnation of the murder that occurred on Saturday of Omar Menéndez, a candidate for mayor of the canton (municipality) of Puerto López, who was riddled with bullets inside a building that was broken into by a group of unidentified persons.

“The OAS has already carried out twenty-two electoral observation missions in this country. This is the twenty-third time, and I would say it is the first time that this fact, so adverse and negative for democracy, is being verified that there have been expressions of violence with political motivation,” explained the head of the mission. “It's an element that we believe has to be absolutely and totally discarded and overcome,” he added.

Corlazzoli appreciated that both the President of the Republic, Guillermo Lasso, and the President of the National Electoral Council (CNE), Diana Atamaint, firstly condemned this act during the inauguration ceremony of electoral day.

The OAS condemned the murder of a mayoral candidate in Ecuador and demanded a prompt investigation from the Government

The President of Ecuador, Guillermo Lasso, repudiated the assassination (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte)

He also hoped that the police and judicial investigations could clarify as soon as possible the death of the candidate of the Revolución Ciudadana movement, which he leads former President Rafael Correa (2007-2017) and identify the culprits.

Earlier, the electoral observation mission had condemned the murder and demanded a prompt investigation to clarify the crime. In a statement on social networks, the international organization indicated that it strongly condemns the crime of Omar Menéndez.

”Violence has no place in democracy”, the electoral observation mission ruled on the crime committed against the candidate of the Revolución Ciudadana movement, whose leader is former president Rafael Correa (2007-2017).

In the act that began voting day, the President of Ecuador, Guillermo Lasso, expressed his rejection of “an act of violence that occurred last night (Saturday) and that resulted in the death of the candidate for mayor of Puerto López”.

”Regardless of any circumstance, I will always be on the side of defending life. I express my condolences to his relatives and to the political party that he represented in this electoral battle”, indicated the president.

The murder was also condemned by the president of the National Electoral Council (CNE). , Diana Atamaint, who called on the State Attorney General's Office “to intervene in these events to investigate them, since they threaten the peace and tranquility of Ecuadorians, and threaten our democracy.”

The Police reported on social networks that they are trying to locate the perpetrators of the murder, by searching for information at the scene and verifying security cameras located in the area.

The case of Menéndez joins that of Julio César Farachio, candidate for mayor of the city of Salinas, who was also assassinated by hitmen on January 21st, while holding a rally for his electoral campaign , with a view to the elections this Sunday, February 5.

The OAS condemned the murder of a mayoral candidate in Ecuador and demanded a prompt investigation from the Government

July César Farachio was seeking to reach the mayoralty of Salinas, in Ecuador; he was killed during one of his tours

A day later, the Minister of the Interior, Juan Zapata, reported the arrest of the alleged mastermind of Farachio's murder.

In these local elections, more than 13, 4 million Ecuadorians to elect 23 provincial prefects and 221 mayors, in addition to renewing the seven members of the Council for Citizen Participation and Social Control (Cpccs), a body that appoints authorities such as the attorney general and the comptroller.

At the same time, Ecuadorians will answer “Yes” or “No” to the eight questions of a referendum posed by the Government to modify the Constitution in matters of security, democracy, state institutions, political movements and environment.

Ecuador faces an increase in crime and drug trafficking. The homicide rate in the country of 18.2 million people grew to 25 per 100,000 people in 2022, up from 14 per 100,000 the year before.

With information from EFE

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