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A 22-year-old woman, who was 4 months pregnant, was stabbed to death by her boyfriend and a mob formed, taking justice into its own hands.
Local residents in the city of Ibarra in the province of Imbabura, Ecuador attacked a camp of Venezuelan migrants after local media reported a horrific femicide involving the death of a young woman at the hands of her boyfriend, whose nationality was made central in their reports.
The 22-year-old woman Diana Carolina Ramirez, who was 4 months pregnant, was stabbed to death by her boyfriend after having been held hostage by him for an hour around 11 p.m. local time, leading her at knifepoint through the streets of downtown Ibarra.
The man was later disarmed by police, but not before having stabbed the woman three times, causing her traumatic injuries resulting in her death at a local hospital.
At one point, the onlooking crowd began attacking the assailant which forced police to use tear gas to disperse the crowd.
The horrific scene have caused people to question the police’s handling of the event, some saying they should have taken a more violent approach.
The event then triggered a spontaneous late-night march among the citizenry. Inflamed by xenophobic tendencies, a group of townspeople marched to the town’s central parks where some Venezuelan migrants are sometimes known to sleep, and burned it to the ground along with any belongings they could find. They then chased the frightened Venezuelans through the streets of the city, many of whom needed police protection.
Police were also forced to guard a local municipal shelter, when an angry mob attempted to enter, according to El Comercio. Furthermore, around 8:30pm local time, a group of people who had participated in the march inhabited by foreign citizens in the center of Ibarra, and burned their belongings in the street.
Xenophobia has been trending across Latin America as media outlets promote negative coverage of Venezuela and its citizens. Some have questioned the coverage, asking why the assailant’s nationality was made a focus despite femicide occurring by men of all nationalities on women.
A march has been called in areas around Ibarra for Sunday 3 p.m. local time, but has been dubbed in social media as fulfilling "social cleansing" against crime in the town.
Ecuadorean President Lenin Moreno, hoping to score political points, issued a statement linking Venezuelan migrants with general crime:
We are all Diana! Ecuador is and will be a country of peace. We will not let any antisocial elements take that away from us. The integrity of our mothers, daughters, and co-workers is my priority. I've allowed for the immediate formation of a taskforce to assess the legal situation of Venezuelans on the streets, in the workplace, and on the border. We are analzying the possibility of creating special permits to enter the country...
This femicide comes on the heels of another tragic event that rocked the Ecuadorean capital of Quito on Jan. 13, in which three assailants drugged and raped a young woman celebrating her birthday in a bar.
So far, two solidarity marches have been called for Monday, Jan. 21, in which feminist and women groups hope to call attention to and sound the alarm against the frequent phenomenon of violence against women in Ecuadorean society.