Ecuador votes to approve tightened security measures

Ecuadorians voted to approve a number of security proposals from President Daniel Noboa on April 21 as the South American country experiences a surge in violence that has claimed the lives of multiple public officials. Among the proposals was a measure to amend Ecuador's constitution to allow the armed forces to fight organized crime alongside the police. Voters also approved four additional proposals, including one to allow the extradition of Ecuadorian nationals, another to establish new courts to clear judicial backlogs, a third to allow the country to send disputes with investors to international arbitration, and a fourth to recognize fixed-term employment contracts.

The vote also included a "popular consultation," containing six non-binding proposals. Among them was a proposal to increase penalties for crimes such as murder, human trafficking, drug trafficking and arms trafficking. The consultation also included a proposal to mandate having inmates sentenced for gun crimes, financing of terrorism, and extortionate kidnapping, among other offenses, serve their whole sentence in prison.

All proposals in both the referendum and popular consultation garnered at least 60% of voters in favor, except for the fixed-term employment and investor arbitration proposals, which were defeated.

President Noboa, who promised to hold a security referendum during his campaign, lauded the favorable result, saying on social media:

Thank you Ecuador for your broad support for a security policy and fight against corruption that is producing results such as today’s capture of Colón Pico. Thanks to the bravery of Ecuadorians, dignity has been restored to our country. We are experiencing difficult situations, but I am certain that we are going in the right direction. Ecuador has spoken, our next step will be to continue working even harder than yesterday.

President Noboa's crackdown is a response to a flare-up of violence that threatens to destabilize the country.

From Jurist, April 22. Used with permission.

Ecuador prison warden killed during election day

The director of Ecuador's El Rodeo prison, Cosme Parrales, was killed April 21 in an attack at a cevicheria in Jipijapa, Manabi province. (SNAI). (Jurist)

The following day, police announced the capture of the fugitive leader of one of the country's powerful criminal gangs. Fabricio Colón Pico, boss of Los Lobos, had been on the run since escaping from prison on Jan. 8. Officials said they traced Colón Pico to the jungle town of Puerto Quito, Pichincha province. Ecuador's prosecutor general, Diana Salazar, has accused Colón Pico of plotting to kill her. (BBC News)

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