Guillermo Lasso’s presidency, spanning nearly 30 months, will be remembered for an exacerbation of violence, intensified drug seizures, unbridled prison chaos, and a paradoxical rise in organized crime at the expense of common criminal activities. As the administration concluded on November 23, 2023, the prevailing sentiment was one of unfulfilled promises and mounting security challenges.
Facing a looming political trial that threatened his presidency, Lasso opted for a dramatic dissolution of the National Assembly, prematurely concluding his term. Amidst political turbulence and corruption allegations, insecurity emerged as the predominant issue plaguing Lasso’s government, a predicament for which viable solutions remained elusive.
When Lasso assumed office in May 2021, Ecuador was already grappling with a security crisis, with a death rate of 14 per 100,000 inhabitants and a prison massacre under the preceding Lenín Moreno administration that claimed 79 lives. Instead of stemming the tide, the Lasso regime inadvertently contributed to the deepening crisis, particularly within its unstable Security Cabinet.
Violent deaths surged during Lasso’s tenure, with 6,044 recorded between January 1, 2023, and October 18, 2023. If this trend persists, the year could conclude with a staggering 7,607 murders, marking a 65.3% increase from the 2022 figures. The potential year-end rate of 44.9 murders per 100,000 inhabitants would be an unprecedented historical high.
Drug seizures, presented by the government as a measure of success against trafficking, also witnessed a stark escalation under Lasso. While the annual average under predecessors Correa and Moreno was 56 and 66 tons, respectively, Lasso’s administration exceeded 180 tons, triggering concerns that the increased efficacy against drug cartels might be linked to the surge in violent incidents.
Prison massacres, a problem inherited from the prior administration, reached a zenith under Lasso, with 14 massacres in 30 months resulting in 387 prisoner deaths. The escalating crisis underscored the government’s inability to address fundamental security concerns within the penal system.
An evolution in crime patterns became apparent through changes in theft dynamics. In 2023, a notable shift occurred as motorcycle thefts surged, indicative of a transition from common crime targeting individuals and homes to more organized criminal activities. Motorcycles, favored by hitmen and drug traffickers, became instruments of choice for criminal endeavors.
To sum it all up Guillermo Lasso’s presidency, overshadowed by political tumult, corruption allegations, and a failure to address the escalating security crisis, leaves a nation grappling with unprecedented levels of violence, heightened drug seizures, prison chaos, and an evolving criminal landscape. As Ecuador confronts the aftermath of Lasso’s administration, the imperative for comprehensive security reforms looms large on the national agenda.