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Ecuador Presidential Debate Proceeds with Empty Podium for Slain Anti-Graft Candidate Villavicencio

HeadlineAug 14, 2023

In Ecuador, presidential candidates participated in a debate Sunday night where they vowed to address violence and security issues following the assassination of presidential hopeful Fernando Villavicencio last week. An empty podium stood in Villavicencio’s place, while candidates held a moment of silence before starting the debate. Construye, or the Build, political party has opted for journalist Christian Zurita to replace Villavicencio as presidential candidate, reversing its previous decision to go for Villavicencio’s vice-presidential nominee Andrea González. The election is scheduled for this Sunday, August 20.

Meanwhile, Ecuadorian authorities have transferred a powerful gang leader, accused of threatening Villavicencio before the candidate was killed, to a maximum-security prison. Some 4,000 soldiers and police were deployed to help relocate Adolfo Macías from a low-security facility. This comes as Villavicencio’s widow blamed the state for her husband’s killing.

Verónica Sarauz: “They did not protect him as they should have protected him. The state was in charge of Fernando’s security. The state is directly responsible for the murder of my husband, Fernando Villavicencio. The state still has to give many answers about everything that happened. His personal guards did not do their job. I do not want to think that they sold my husband to be murdered in this infamous way.”

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