The US offers a reward of five million dollars for information about the crime of Fernando Villavicencio | International

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Tribute to Fernando Villavicencio in Quito, on August 11.HENRY ROMERO (REUTERS)

The United States Government announced a reward of five million dollars for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the conspirators and intellectual authors behind the assassination of Ecuadorian presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio. The politician was shot in the head on August 9 when he was leaving a political event in Quito, a few days before the first round of the early elections. The announcement was made by the Secretary of State, Antony Bliken, through X: “as a demonstration of our commitment to justice and the fight against organized crime.”

Under the Organized Crime Rewards Program, the United States also made a second reward offer of up to $1 million for information that identifies and locates “individuals holding a key leadership position in the transnational organized crime group responsible for the homicide of Villavicencio,” the document says.

It is the first time that the North American Government intervenes with a measure like this in Ecuador, explains Carlos Estarellas, professor of International Law at the Catholic University of Santiago de Guayaquil and former undersecretary of Foreign Affairs in Ecuador. “He didn't do it when they murdered the renowned deputy Lenin Hurtado,” adds he, who was shot by hitmen in 1997 when he was leaving the Congress building. For Estarellas, the announcement leaves a reading: “The Ecuadorian State cannot even take charge of the investigation into this case because we live in a corrupt justice system. The Police cannot investigate, the Government cannot coordinate actions, and we have all functions in crisis.”

The Ecuadorian president, Guillermo Lasso, who has just arrived from a 10-day tour of the United States, thanked Blinken for “the support of the United States to ensure justice is done for the murder of Fernando Villavicencio” and recalled that the FBI group that He arrived in Ecuador at the request of his Government and maintains his collaboration in the investigation within the country, although there is still no known progress.

The United States offer occurs in the middle of the electoral campaign until October 15, when Ecuadorians will return to the polls to elect a new president. For security analyst Luis Carlos Córdova, it is a reaction from the United States that "occurs after the meeting that Lasso had during his visit to that country with a group of 13 Republican congressmen who propose the use of military force to fight against the cartels." Mexicans and who blame the president, Joe Biden, for ineffectiveness in the fight against organized crime due to the fentanyl crisis in that country.”

So far, there are 13 people arrested for the crime of Fernando Villavicencio. The hitman who attacked the politician's life died the day of the crime, and, according to the first police indications, the defendants are part of one of the criminal organizations that operates in the country called Los Lobos. They are all in preventive detention and at the last hearing they opted for silence.

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