Conflicts & War

Violence in Guayaquil adds to an already impoverished population

Claudia Polanco Yermanos

Guayaquil, Ecuador, Jan 11 (EFE).- Violence is affecting the 2.6 million inhabitants of Ecuador’s most populous city, the coastal Guayaquil.

Following a string of prison riots, the president declared a state of exception on Jan. 8.

In response, a wave of terror attacks engulfed the country, including vehicle explosions, bombings, police kidnappings, and the circulation of pamphlets rejecting inmate transfers.

After ten people were killed in different attacks, which included the temporary takeover of a television station by an armed group in Guayaquil, the burning of cars, and threats against universities, government institutions, and businesses, citizens have been living in fear.

Juan, a young taxi driver, told EFE that “being prepared to confront criminal gangs has become a priority for him.”

Although he travels several times a day along Francisco de Orellana Avenue, a major artery in northern Guayaquil, he had never experienced what he now calls “generalized madness.”

After Tuesday’s events, Juan described people being in panic because of the hostage-taking at the television station and other disturbances in the city. “There was no authority,” he said.

Tatiana, another citizen from Guayaquil, explains that on Francisco de Orellana Avenue, “drivers didn’t respect the traffic signs or the pedestrians. It seemed like a war of all against all.”

“I was riding my motorbike with my boyfriend and we saw other motorcyclists being robbed, and some small shops being looted. People were crazy,” she says.

“As public transport was scarce, people looked for private vehicles to get a lift,” she added.

Another citizen affected by the attacks of violent groups is Roberto, who left his home in the south of Guayaquil at five o’clock on Thursday morning to go to the building where he works as a security guard until six in the evening.

“The taxi charged me ten dollars. It’s an abuse. I can’t go on like this, I can’t afford it. We poor always lose,” he complained.

The working class of Guayaquil is most affected by the violence, impacting the pockets of those earning a basic monthly salary, which is $460 in Ecuador this month. EFE

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