Ecuador’s Youngest Mayor Brigitte García Found Dead

Brigitte García

In a shocking turn of events, Brigitte García, the youngest mayor of Ecuador, was found dead in a car alongside her communications director. The 27-year-old mayor of San Vicente and her press officer were discovered in the early hours of Sunday. The motive behind the killings remains unclear, and no arrests have been made so far.

Brigitte García, a nurse by profession, had been elected mayor of San Vicente for the opposition Citizens’ Revolution party last year at the age of 26. The town she governed, San Vicente, is located in the province of Manabí, a coastal region that has been particularly badly hit by violence linked to drug gangs smuggling cocaine to lucrative markets in the US and Europe.

This incident is not an isolated one. In July, a gunman shot dead the mayor of the port city of Manta, Agustín Intriago, who had been recently re-elected. And in February of 2023, mayoral candidate Omar Menéndez was murdered just hours before polls opened in the city of Puerto López.

The violence has not been confined to Manabí. In August, presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio was gunned down as he was leaving a campaign rally in the capital, Quito. Prosecutors investigating Villavicencio’s murder said it had been planned from inside jail by members of the Los Lobos criminal gang.

The rise of such gangs led President Daniel Noboa in January to declare a two-month-long state of emergency to combat armed groups. It was extended by another month on 7 March. The government says the security forces have carried out more than 150,000 operations since the state of emergency was declared and detained more than 10,000 suspects.

However, critics of the government say Ms Brigitte García’s murder shows that more needs to be done to guarantee the safety of elected officials. Luisa González, who was defeated by Mr Noboa in the presidential election, wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter, that “nobody is safe in Ecuador”.

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