Since the escape at the beginning of January of public enemy number one, Adolfo Macías, alias Fito, leader of the powerful Choneros gang, the country has been in a state of emergency and President Noboa has declared a state of internal war. Tens of thousands of soldiers and police are on the streets and in prisons to regain control of the country. The seizure of power is forceful, sometimes to the detriment of human rights. AND The president's popularity increases.
Access to prisons press is still prohibitedbut numerous videos circulate on social networks, as usualwith a lot of misinformation.
Soldiers arrest a young man in Quito. Photo: AP
One video, for example, shows detainees on the ground being sprayed with tear gas and hot water. They seem to have been edited.
Others, however, are real and we know the source, like the one that shows arrested in underwearshirtless and with his hands on his head, climbing some stairs with unusually rude soldiers, who force them to shout “Ecuador, Ecuador”, as if to demonstrate that the State has returned to power and that the gangs no longer rule.
President Noboa's popularity increases
It is very difficult to find people who do not approve of the hard way. President Daniel Noboa's popularity index is 80%, because people appreciate the fact that, for example, the police and the military have removed from prisons trucks loaded with firearms, knives, drugs, televisions, computers, mobile phonescable television antennas, industrial kitchens, video game consoles and even sets of keys…
Detained in their underwear in a prison in Ecuador. Photo: AFP
Billy Navarrete, executive director of the Permanent Committee for the Defense of Human Rights, admits that His message is increasingly difficult to convey.
“Since January 9, the escape of “Fito”, the point of view that we have defended for 40 years is going through its most difficult moment. We are also victims of violence, but any message that defends human rights, in particular of the prisonerswe deserve insults and threats. Recently, a colleague received a death threat because his photo was posted on social media,” he laments.
Is calm returning to the prisons?
It is above all the families of the prisoners who protest against this “iron fist” policy. They feel that their loved ones are treated like animals. We met some of them last Wednesday outside the Guayaquil prison. They had had no contact with their loved ones for a week, as all their mobile phones had been confiscated and all visits suspended.
It should be noted that the Armed Forces have published an official video in which no one screams. They want to show that the prisons are now well managed, that all privileges have been removed and that inmates who were previously extorted by gangs are more peaceful, which is probably true.