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Foreign Minister Sommerfeld refutes the notion of ‘bukelization’ in Ecuador’s fight against organized crime

Published on March 18, 2024

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Ecuadorian foreign minister Gabriela Sommerfeld reiterated the government’s success in reducing the homicide rate by 60% under Daniel Noboa’s administration, following the imposition of a state of emergency last January.

Ecuador has witnessed an alarming eight-fold increase in the homicide rate over the past five years, culminating in over 7,800 violent deaths in 2023 amidst an unprecedented wave of violence. In response, Foreign Minister Gabriela Sommerfeld reaffirmed that the measures implemented by Daniel Noboa’s government have played a crucial role in curbing violent deaths.

In a recent interview, Sommerfeld outlined the government’s dual approach: bolstering control over prisons and territories by security forces, while also addressing underlying factors contributing to insecurity through job creation.

“We have managed to reduce homicide rates or violent deaths in the country by 60%,” stated Gabriela Sommerfeld, Foreign Minister of Ecuador.

Emphasizing the reestablishment of state control over prisons, where over 400 deaths occurred in violent riots since 2021, Sommerfeld highlighted efforts to combat organized crime in critical infrastructures such as the port of Guayaquil through the use of technology, militarization, and international cooperation.

However, the chancellor dismissed criticisms from certain human rights associations regarding Ecuador’s alleged ‘bukelization,’ akin to the militarization and suspension of rights observed in El Salvador under President Nayib Bukele.

Recent reports from human rights organizations and prisoner relatives have raised concerns about military interventions in prisons and streets, alleging abuses. Sommerfeld underscored the government’s commitment to the rule of law and democracy, asserting that the measures to restore peace and security enjoy popular support.

“We uphold democracy and respect the Constitution, which grants us 60 days for the state of exception, extendable for 30 more days. While this option has been exercised, a referendum has been scheduled for April 21st, addressing certain questions to establish a legal framework for maintaining order,” highlighted the Minister.

Chancellor Sommerfeld’s statements reflect the government’s unwavering determination to combat organized crime while upholding democratic principles and human rights.


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