Ecuador extends its state of emergency by 30 days

QUITO — Ecuadorean President Daniel Noboa has extended a state of emergency in the South American country by 30 days, as his administration grapples with rising violence blamed on drug trafficking gangs.

In a decree published near midnight on Thursday, Noboa said an extension was necessary to keep military patrols going in prisons and violent areas of the country, maintain order and reduce homicides.

Noboa originally declared the state of emergency — his first since taking office late last year — in early January amid a spike in violence that saw prison guards taken hostage and the invasion of a TV station by armed men during a live broadcast.

Ecuadorian army soldiers
Ecuadorian army soldiers arrive to patrol a beach during Carnival celebrations on Feb. 11, 2024 in Atacames, Ecuador. John Moore / Getty Images file

Noboa, the 36-year-old son of one of the country’s richest businessmen, has designated 22 gangs as terrorist groups.

During the state of emergency intentional homicides have been halved — falling from an average of 24 a day to 12 a day — the decree said.

Noboa’s press office said between January and Monday security forces carried out close to 150,000 operations nationally, arresting more than 11,700 people, including 280 on terrorism charges. Fourteen alleged criminals have died during operations and 3,300 arms and 64.3 tonnes of drugs have been seized, it said.

States of emergency were frequently used by Noboa’s predecessor Guillermo Lasso to try and tackle rising violence on the streets and in prisons, to little effect.