QUITO — Ecuadorian presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio was assassinated on Wednesday, August 9, said President Guillermo Lasso, vowing that the assassination will not go unpunished.
Local media had previously reported that Villavicencio, a former deputy, had been shot at a campaign event in Quito.
“For his memory and his fight, I assure you that this crime will not go unpunished,” Lasso said on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter. “Organized crime has come a long way, but the full weight of the law will fall on them.”
Lasso said he would receive senior security officials in an urgent meeting.
Videos on social media purportedly from the campaign event showed people covering themselves and screaming as shots rang out.
According to opinion polls, Villavicencio’s support was 7.5%, placing him fifth out of eight presidential candidates for the August 20 ballot.
Villavicencio, from the Andean province of Chimborazo, was a former trade unionist for the state oil company Petroecuador and later a journalist who denounced alleged million-dollar losses in oil contracts.
On Tuesday he had filed a report with the attorney general’s office about an oil deal, but no further details of his report were made public.
Villavicencio was an outspoken critic of former President Rafael Correa and was sentenced to 18 months in prison for defamation for statements against the former president.
He fled to indigenous territory within Ecuador and later received asylum in Peru.
As a lawmaker, Villavicencio was criticized by opposition politicians for obstructing an impeachment process this year against Lasso, prompting the latter to call early elections.
“Today more than ever the need to act with a strong hand against crime is reiterated. May God rest in his glory,” presidential hopeful Jan Topic said in a post on X.
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