Ecuador: President wants to reform the Constitution to fight drug trafficking

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Ecuador: the President wants to reform the Constitution to fight drug trafficking

Guillermo Lasso, President of Ecuador

The President of Ecuador, Guillermo Lasso, presented a draft constitutional reform before Parliament on Wednesday so that the military can support the police in the fight against organized crime and drug trafficking.

“The Armed Forces and the National Police will be able to collaborate continuously in the fight against crime without the need to declare a state of emergency.

— Guillermo Lasso, President of Ecuador

Mr. Lasso made the statement during a public speech on the forecourt of the National Assembly.

This broadening of the army's field of action was supposed to be included in the referendum on security, politics and the environment scheduled for February 5, but the Constitutional Court ruled that it was to be considered by the National Assembly.

The Ecuadorian Constitution establishes that the army is responsible for the defense of territorial sovereignty while the police ensure the protection of territorial sovereignty. x27;public order.

Currently, military and police can operate together only when the state of emergency is in effect, as is currently the case in the provinces of Guayas (south), Esmeraldas (north) and Santo Domingo ( north), after a wave of violence linked to drug trafficking.

Struggling against a parliament that tried to impeach him during the violent demonstrations last June and where his party does not holds only 13 of 137 seats, President Lasso, a conservative elected in the spring of 2021, has called for power struggles to be pushed aside.

We hope to set aside political, partisan and personal interests to prioritize security and peace, the Head of State said.

Ecuador has seen spike in trafficking-related violence and crime along with drug seizures. Prisons are the scene of recurring massacres between gangs of rival prisoners. In 2021, authorities confiscated a record 210 tons of drugs while 170 tons have been seized since the start of the year.

The rate of Homicide nearly doubled in 2021, with 14 murders per 100,000 inhabitants, reaching its highest level in a decade.

In this alarming context, the support of the armed forces is vital in the fight against violence, against drug traffickers, against criminals, and even against narcopolitics in Ecuador, pleaded Mr. Lasso.

The Assembly now has a year to consider this constitutional reform project and the president needs the votes of 92 deputies out of 137 for the revision to be approved.

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