Security & Strategic Review - February 2022

ECUADOR: Lasso takes a hard line in response to surging violence

Security records were broken over and over in Ecuador last year, which saw the country’s worst ever prison massacres, the highest quantity of seized drugs on record, and the worst homicide rate in a decade. Prison violence has served as a grim if useful barometer of Ecuador’s rising prominence in the international drugs trade, highlighting the gang rivalries that are playing out in increasingly brazen acts of violence on both sides of prison walls. President Guillermo Lasso, who took office in May 2021 pledging a re-think of the country’s security policies, has increasingly turned to hardline solutions – including the militarisation of cities and a bill aiming to protect police from prosecution for actions taken in the line of duty. Lasso has also shaken up the police leadership, indicating that new security strategies may be forthcoming.

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