Cocaine, gangs and murder: Ecuador’s 10 days of terror
Compared with its fellow Latin American countries Colombia and Mexico – which for decades have been destabilised by violent drug gangs – Ecuador was calm and peaceful. But a wave of terror last Tuesday showed just how quickly things have changed.
After the prison break by an infamous drug baron, chaos erupted. Masked men and boys interrupted a live TV broadcast and held journalists at gunpoint. Elsewhere, police officers and prison guards were taken hostage, explosions were heard and violence spread.
In response, the country’s 36-year-old president, Daniel Noboa, launched a hardline crackdown, with raids on homes and violence meted out to suspected drug gang members. Noboa, who came to power after the assassination of his political rival, has promised to get a grip on the situation. But what are the costs?
The Guardian’s Latin America correspondent, Tom Phillips, tells Nosheen Iqbal how the pandemic and demand for cocaine in Europe have led to Ecuador’s spiral into chaos. And he looks at the terrible consequences for Ecuadorians, with the everyday fear, violence and instability leading some to leave their homeland completely.