Fernando Villavicencio, a candidate in Ecuador’s upcoming presidential election and former corruption journalist, was shot dead after an election rally. He left behind a wife and five children.
Villavicencio, 59, a member of the National Assembly, campaigned against corruption and gangs in his country. He was attacked as he left an event in the capital, Quito, on Wednesday.
He was one of the few candidates to allege links between organized crime and government officials in Ecuador.
A state of emergency was declared following the attack.
Fernando Villavicencio is dead. The gunman fired three shots
The BBC points out that Ecuador has historically been a relatively safe and stable country in Latin America, but has recently experienced an increase in violent crime fueled by the growing presence of drug cartels. It was one of the main themes of this year’s presidential campaign.
Witnesses say Villavicencio, a sitting congressman and former journalist, was shot three times. A member of his campaign staff told local media that the 59-year-old was getting into his car when a man approached him and shot him in the head. Video from inside the building shows panicked Villavicencio supporters looking for an escape route and campaign leaflets on the bloody floor. Nine other people, including a candidate for the national assembly and two police officers, were injured in the chaos, prosecutors said.
Villavicencio’s campaign focused on combating the corruption he had dealt with in his earlier journalistic career and reducing environmental damage.
Six people were arrested in connection with the case.
Villavicencio was married and had five children. He was one of eight candidates in the first round of the election, although he was not the favorite and was in the middle of the pack in the polls. The first round of the presidential election will take place on August 20.