The situation described in the Gulf of Guayaquil is worrisome and reflects the challenges Ecuador faces in the fight against drug trafficking and associated crime. The use of this area as a route for transporting drugs to the United States and Europe has made Guayaquil a strategic point for criminal organizations.
The Ecuadorian government, headed by President Guillermo Lasso, has taken steps to combat the power of drug trafficking. Declaring criminal gangs terrorists has allowed the military to increase its presence and patrol without the need for a state of emergency. In addition, military presence has been intensified in land and sea control operations.
However, despite government efforts, violence and corruption persist in the region. Fishermen and crab collectors are in a vulnerable situation, being victims of robbery, extortion, and threats from criminals operating in the Gulf. The imposition of regular payments, known as “vacunas,” in order to carry out their work demonstrates the existence of a network of corruption that extends to high levels.
The declaration of states of exception and the permit to carry weapons for personal defense are extreme measures that seek to provide security to the affected population. However, it is clear that a comprehensive strategy is required that addresses both the repression of drug trafficking and the prevention of crime and corruption.
It is important to note that the problem of drug trafficking is not unique to Ecuador, as it is located in a strategic geographical location between major cocaine-producing countries such as Colombia and Peru. Regional cooperation and the implementation of joint strategies are essential to effectively addressing this challenge and dismantling transnational criminal organizations operating in the region.