Following the outbreak of violence and the decree of a state of emergency in Ecuador, concerns have been raised over the safety of prospective visitors and foreign nationals currently in the country.
A popular destination with those visiting South America, the nation has been rocked by violence in recent days after the apparent escape of a powerful gang leader from prison.
There have been reports of explosions and the abduction of police officers in cities such as Quevedo and Quito, the capital. On 9 January, gunmen stormed a TV station in the city of Guayaquil, just one day after the president declared a 60-day state of emergency.
Despite reports of increasing unrest, the majority of the country is trying to carry on as usual, with the army drafted in to maintain law and order.
Infrastructure such as airports is functioning as normal, while the UK Foreign Office has stopped short of advising against travel to the country. But is it safe to go, and what are your rights if you have a trip booked? Here’s what we know so far.
What has happened in Ecuador?
On 8 January, president Daniel Noboa declared a state of emergency in response to what he called “transnational organised crime” groups, also designating them as “terrorist organisations and belligerent non-state actors” and recognising “an internal armed conflict”. He also stated that he has ordered the country’s armed forces to “neutralise” these groups.
The declaration followed reports of increasing numbers of riots and escapes in the country’s prisons. Notably, 7 January saw the apparent escape of a notorious gang member from his low-security prison cell. Authorities reported that Adolfo Macías, leader of the Los Choneros gang, wasn’t in his cell during a transfer between prisons.
Since then there have been reports of explosions and abductions of police officers, with the most recent high-profile incident being the armed attack on a TV station. Police managed to neutralise the situation, with 13 arrests made and only two injuries.
What is the latest Foreign Office advice?
Following the state of emergency, the Foreign Office (FCDO) updated its advice in accordance with that of the Ecuadorean Ministry of Tourism….