Ecuador President Guillermo Lasso on Monday declared a 60-day state of emergency as the country battles surge in violent drug crime.
“Starting immediately, our Armed Forces and police will be felt with force in the streets because we are decreeing a state of emergency throughout the national territory,” Lasso said on state television.
The state of emergency status would give authorities the power to restrict freedom of movement, assembly, and association for two months, in a bid to curb the growing number of homicides, home burglaries, and robberies.
This would also give the government authority to mobilize at least 3,600 soldiers and police to patrol the 65 prisons in the country and to increase military street presence.
Ecuador has recorded almost 1,900 murders this year — more than the 1,400 registered in 2020.
Lasso attributed the rise in crimes to drugs.
The rise in criminality “is not only reflected in the amount of drugs consumed in our country, but in the number of crimes that today have a direct or indirect relationship with the sale of narcotics,” Lasso added.
On Monday, Lasso appointed a new defense minister as the country struggles to solve the prison crisis.
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