Ecuador Declares "State of War" Against Drug Cartels Amid Escalating Violence

In a harrowing turn of events, Ecuador finds itself in the throes of a declared "state of war" with drug cartels, marking the third consecutive day of a brutal campaign initiated by the criminal organizations. This violent response comes in the wake of a government crackdown on their illegal activities, as reported by AFP.

The capital, Quito, is now under heightened security with hundreds of troops patrolling the streets. The recent surge in violence has not only gripped residents in fear but has also raised international alarm. Ecuador, a small South American country, is grappling with a crisis exacerbated by years of growing control by transnational cartels, particularly in using its ports for cocaine transportation to the US and Europe.

The situation intensified with the escape of one of the country's most influential drug lords, Jose Adolfo Macias, also known as Fito. President Daniel Noboa, elected in the autumn, responded on Monday by declaring a state of emergency and imposing a curfew. However, the cartels countered by declaring "war," issuing threats against civilians and security forces.

The ensuing chaos included prison riots, explosions in public spaces, and targeted attacks, resulting in at least 14 casualties. Over 100 prison guards and administrative staff were taken hostage. In Guayaquil, masked assailants attacked state television, briefly holding journalists hostage.

President Noboa, the youngest in Ecuador's history, vowed to "act with a firm hand" against criminal gangs to restore peace. His proposed measures include militarizing ports and borders, protecting strategic export routes, and creating a national intelligence agency to oversee all intelligence services, including prison management.

The president's...

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