In a surprising turn of events, Ecuador has experienced a significant decrease in violent deaths, with a notable 41% drop following the declaration of an internal armed conflict. Between January 10 and 24, 2024, official figures reveal an average of 9.2 murders daily, down from 15.6 in the same period the previous year.
During this recent period, Ecuador recorded a total of 138 murders, translating to a daily average of nine cases. In stark contrast, the corresponding period in 2023 witnessed 234 murders, indicating a substantial 41% reduction. The decline becomes even more pronounced when assessing the first nine days of 2024, where 28.2 murders occurred per day, dropping significantly to an average of nine in the subsequent 15 days, marking a remarkable 67.8% reduction.
Ecuador concluded 2023 as its most violent year in history, reporting 7,872 murders and a rate of 43.2 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants. This positioned Ecuador as the most violent country in Latin America and the sixth globally. The situation worsened in the early days of 2024, with 62 murders on January 1st alone and a total of 222 victims by January 8th, prompting President Daniel Noboa to declare a state of emergency.
Initially ordering the mobilization of the Police and Armed Forces along with a curfew from 11:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m., Noboa’s measures were deemed insufficient as violence persisted. On January 9th, 32 murders occurred, coupled with a terrorist attack on TC Televisión and GamaTV facilities in Guayaquil, broadcast live on national television. In response, Noboa escalated his actions, declaring an armed internal conflict and designating 22 drug gangs as terrorists, labeling them military objectives.
Murders didn’t drop until declaration of armed internal conflict
Despite the overall decline in violent deaths during the specified period, the monthly figures tell a different story. Comparing January 1 to 24, 2023, and the same period in 2024, the number of murders remained consistent at 392, with a daily average of 16.3 cases. Authorities attribute this to the anomaly of January 1, 2024, which saw an unusually high 62 murders.
An official from the Directorate of Violent Deaths of the National Police acknowledged the distortion caused by the spike on January 1st but expressed confidence in the downward trend. Projections suggest that the first quarter of 2024 will demonstrate a considerable reduction compared to the violence-ridden 2023.
Further insights from the police indicate that 91% of the murders in 2024 can be attributed to criminal violence, implicating members of criminal gangs. The remaining 9% falls under interpersonal violence, often stemming from personal and family disputes exacerbated by alcohol consumption. Additionally, the Police reported a shift in the method of violence, with 83% of murders in 2024 involving firearms, a decrease from the 88% recorded in 2023.
As Ecuador navigates its way through this internal armed conflict, the recent decline in violent deaths offers a glimmer of hope, suggesting that decisive government actions may be making headway in addressing the deeply rooted issues contributing to the country’s alarming crime rates.