President Guillermo Lasso has failed to stop massacres in the Ecuadorian prisons, where over 300 inmates have been murdered so far this year.
Ecuadorian authorities have identified 34 of the 68 prisoners killed in the violent clashes at Litoral Penitentiary, the General Secretariat of Communication for the Presidency reported on Sunday.
Their remains will be delivered to the victims' families in the next few hours, as authorities continue to work to identify the other deceased. Identifying the 68 bodies has been difficult as some inmates were burned and mutilated in the midst of the clashes. Given the impossibility of having fingerprints, anthropological and genetic studies may be necessary to find the identity of all the dead prisoners.
The clashes occurred on Friday night and early on Saturday and left an initial balance of 68 dead and 25 injured. The incident took place in pavilion 2 of the prison, which houses some 700 inmates and included explosions, the use of knives, and the burning of mattresses. The police said that the clashes were the result of a power struggle between groups linked to drug trafficking.
On Saturday, Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso convened a "crisis cabinet" and met with an international advisory team and representatives from civil society to analyze the incident. As a result of the incidents in the Guayaquil Penitentiary, the head of the Joint Command of the Armed Forces Jorge Cabrera resigned. Lasso appointed Major General Orlando Fuel as the new head of the Joint Command and Brigadier General Luis Burbano as General Commander of the Land Force.
Victor Guaillas, dirigente campesino defensor del agua y la vida injustamente sentenciado desde el 2019, es parte de las víctimas de la Masacre en la Penitenciaria del Litoral. Solidaridad con su familia, indignación total con las masacres en las cárceles. Ya BASTA lasso pic.twitter.com/iGh8OKNE37— ABP- Ecuador (@AbpEcuador) November 15, 2021
The tweet reads, "Victor Guaillas, a farmer leader and defender of water and life, who was unjustly sentenced since 2019, is one of the victims of the massacre at the Litoral Penitentiary. Solidarity with his family. Total outrage with the massacres in prisons. Enough Lasso."
The Ecuadorian President also accepted the resignation of Colonel Fernando Garzon, the director of the National Service for Comprehensive Attention to Adults Deprived of Liberty and Adolescent Offenders (SNAI), which is the institution in charge of prisons in the country.
Clashes between rival gangs are frequent in Ecuadorian prisons and have caused more than 300 deaths so far this year, according to police reports. The Litoral Penitentiary was the scene of another revolt on Sept. 29 in which 118 prisoners died. It is considered the worst prison riot to have occurred in the country's history.
This event led the President to decree a "State of Emergency" for 60 days in the country's prison system to stop the wave of violence. Since then, the National Police deployed 900 troops in and around the Litoral Penitentiary to restore order.