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News > Latin America

Lasso's Anti-Terrorist Operations Raise Concern in Ecuador

  • Soldiers patrol the street in front of the Presidential Palace, Quito, Ecuador, 2023.

    Soldiers patrol the street in front of the Presidential Palace, Quito, Ecuador, 2023. | Photo: Twitter/ @LosTiemposBol

Published 4 May 2023

Citizens expressed concern about the ongoing military "strategy" because, in practical terms, it is not clear how the government will define who "terrorists" are.

On Wednesday, President Guillermo Lasso signed a decree allowing the Armed Forces to carry out military operations throughout Ecuadorian territory "to confront and counter terrorist organizations and individuals."


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This decision was announced as part of a strategy that tries to put an end to the increasing number of violent acts, murders, robberies, and assaults that Ecuador has experienced since Lasso came to power in 2021.

The decree establishes that the military operations are aimed at guaranteeing sovereignty and territorial integrity as well as the full validity of the rule of law. It also sets that these operations must respect both "international instruments" and domestic laws.

Within the current strategy, the Armed Forces Joint Command must coordinate with the National Police and initiate actions "to repress the terrorist threat with all the means at its disposal."

The tweet reads, "Military operation to search weapons and explosives at the Trolleybus station south of Quito. This is in compliance with Decree 730 issued by President Guillermo Lasso yesterday."

Lasso also ordered that the institution in charge of the prisons provide for the security of soldiers and agents who could be "subjected to criminal legal proceedings" for participating in the anti-terrorist operations.

The Ecuadorian president commissioned the Finance Ministry to provide the Armed Forces and the Police with all the necessary resources to fulfill the entrusted mission. Citizen reactions to the de facto militarization of the country did not wait.

Progressive politicians, human rights advocates and intellectuals expressed concern about the ongoing "strategy" because, in practical terms, it is not clear how the Lasso administration will define who "terrorists" are.

In recent days, the Ecuadorian far-right spokesmen accused the Indigenous movement of "harboring terrorists and possessing paramilitary forces."

These baseless accusations and the decree occur at a time when Congress will have to decide whether President Lasso is subject to impeachment in a highly publicized corruption case, in which his brother-in-law and the Albanian mafia are apparently involved.


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