Ecuador in a state of shock after the massacre of 79 prisoners

 Sylvie Claire / February 25, 2021


Bloody corpses, some decapitated, piled up to be burned: On Wednesday, Ecuador was horrified by the violence that had occurred the day before in several prisons in the grip of a gang war, which resulted in 79 deaths that day alone.


It was an extermination between criminal gangs, said President Lenin Moreno, in the wake of what he called barbarism. Never before has this small country of 17.4 million people, nestled between the Pacific Ocean, the Andean mountains and the Amazon jungle, faced a prison crisis of such dimensions.


A series of riots and clashes broke out simultaneously on Tuesday between gangs vying for control of prisons in Guayaquil, Cuenca and Latacunga, cities that concentrate 70% of the prison population.


A new mutiny


A new mutiny began Wednesday evening in one of the prisons of Guayaquil, announced the chief of police, General Patricio Carrillo. At that time, he had no indication of possible victims, but he mentioned on Twitter the aggressiveness and irrationality of the groups of delinquents.


The latest death toll was 79 on Wednesday: 37 in Guayaquil, 34 in Cuenca and eight in Latacunga, according to the director of the penitentiary system (SNAI), Edmundo Moncayo. Other detainees, as well as police officers, were injured Tuesday, but their total number was not specified.


The government attributed the violence to a coordinated attack by a drug gang to eliminate a rival gang. This is no coincidence. It was organized from outside the prisons and orchestrated internally by those who are fighting for control, as well as drug trafficking throughout the national territory, President Moreno added.


Ecuador has approximately 60 penitentiary centers with a capacity of 29,000 places. However, overcrowding is around 30%: 38,000 inmates, guarded by 1,500 guards, while according to experts, 4,000 are needed for effective control.

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