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Ecuador’s youngest mayor shot dead, police say

Ecuador’s youngest mayor, 27-year-old Brigitte García, was found shot dead Sunday morning, the country’s national police said.

In a statement posted on X, police said that García, the mayor of San Vicente, a small coastal city, was in what is believed to be a rental car along with her communications director, Jairo Loor, who was also killed from a gunshot wound. Preliminary investigations suggest the shots were fired from inside the car, police said.

Further investigations are underway, police said. In a statement Sunday, the Ecuadorian Ministry of Government called the incident a “criminal action” and referenced a national “fight against terrorism, organized crime and political corruption,” although they did not accuse any person or group of being behind the killings.

“We stand in solidarity with their families and reaffirm our commitment to use all force of the State to not leave these crimes unpunished,” the ministry said.

Garcia was the youngest mayor in the country, according to her X profile. Former Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa took to social media to express his disbelief, saying, “enough!”

“My God! Brigitte! She was the youngest mayor of the country,” he added, along with a photo that showed him and García embracing.

A memorial for García is planned for Monday afternoon, according to the San Vicente municipality. Her burial is scheduled for Tuesday.

Ecuadorian police and people gather at the scene where Ecuador's youngest mayor, Brigitte Garcia was found shot dead in a car, according to the police, near San Vicente, Ecuador, in this handout image released on March 24, 2024. - National Police of Ecuador/Handout/Reuters
Ecuadorian police and people gather at the scene where Ecuador's youngest mayor, Brigitte Garcia was found shot dead in a car, according to the police, near San Vicente, Ecuador, in this handout image released on March 24, 2024. - National Police of Ecuador/Handout/Reuters

Ecuador has been grappling with a surge in violence at the hands of armed gangs.

In January, Ecuador declared a state of emergency after notorious gang leader José Adolfo Macías, also known as ‘Fito’, escaped from prison in Guayaquil. Ecuadorian President Daniel Noboa declared an “internal armed conflict” in the nation the following day and ordered armed forces to execute “military operations to neutralize” the violence across the country. More than 2,000 people were detained less than two weeks after the decree, according to the president’s office.

García was elected last year as a member of the left-wing Citizen Revolution Party, which is aligned with Correa, the former president.

According to her social media feed, she had worked in recent weeks to help bring clean drinking water to San Vicente, meeting recently with the country’s development bank on the project.

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