QUITO (Reuters) – Ecuadorean President Guillermo Lasso on Friday declared a 60-day state of emergency, including curfews in some areas and the deployment of thousands of security forces, in three of the country’s 24 provinces, citing a rise in crime.
It marks the second time Lasso has used emergency powers to counter violence that has shot up since late last year in the Andean country. His government blames drug trafficking gangs who use the country as a transit point for exporting narcotics to the United States and Europe.
A state of emergency Lasso put in place in October faced criticism from the Constitutional Court, which halved the emergency period to 30 days and said the military should only support police operations.
Violent deaths and crimes allegedly connected to drug trafficking are up this year in the provinces of Guayas, Manabi and Esmeraldas, where police operations have captured alleged gang members.
“Through an executive decree I have declared a state of emergency in the provinces of Guayas, Manabi and Esmeraldas effective from midnight tonight,” Lasso said in video posted to his social media. “We protect life in every decision we take, in every corner of our country until all those who are violent have surrendered.”
Some 9,000 police and military will patrol streets in the provinces during the 60 days, while certain neighborhoods will have curfews from 11 p.m. until 5 a.m. (0400-1000 GMT).
(Reporting by Alexandra Valencia; Writing by Julia Symmes Cobb; Editing by William Mallard)