PUBLIC AI Index: AMR 28/04/99
UA 28/99 Fear for safety / Political killings 19 February 1999
ECUADORParliamentary representatives and members of the Movimiento Popular
Jaime HURTADO GONZALEZ - MPD member of parliament
Pablo Vicente TAPIA FARINANGO - MPD member of parliament
Wellington BORJA NAZARENO - possible member of the MPD
The recent assassination of at least two members of parliament representing
opposition party Movimiento Popular Democrático (MPD), Democratic Popular
Movement has raised concern for the safety of other opposition politicians
and party members.
Parliamentarians Jaime Hurtado Gonzalez and Pablo Vicente Tapia Farinango,
together with Wellington Borja Nazareno, possibly also an MPD party member,
were shot dead shortly after midday on 17 February 1999, near the National
Congress (Congreso Nacional) in the capital, Quito. The gunman reportedly
escaped in a waiting vehicle.
The government has set up a commission to investigate the killings. This will
be staffed by a member of parliament, a member of the Ecuadorean Episcopal
Conference, a member of the human rights organization Asociación
Latinoamericana para los Derechos Humanos (ALDHU), Latin-American Association
for Human Rights and a relative of Jaime Hurtado. In addition, the president
has announced other measures which reportedly include police and army controls
on access to Quito.
The above killings, and that of trade union leader Saúl Cañar Pauta in November
1998 (see Ecuador: The death of Saúl Cañar Pauta, AI Index: AMR 28/03/98,
December 1998), have taken place at a time of rising social and political
tensions in Ecuador.
The MPD is an outspoken critic of President Jamil Mahuad Witt, who came to
power in August 1998, and his government, which it accuses of corruption and
economic policies which have led to increased poverty. It has also criticised
the government for “supposedly controlling crime” (“so pretexto de controlar
la delincuencia”) by imposing a 60-day state of emergency in the Province of
Guayas (see UA 10/99, AI Index: AMR 28/01/99, 15 January 1999, and follow-ups
AMR 28/02/99, 18 January 1999; AMR 28/03/99, 2 February 1999; and AMR 28/05/99,
11 February 1999).
Ecuadorean media reports and leaders of grass-roots organizations
(organizaciones populares) have in return questioned the role of the MPD,
accusing it of violence during anti-government protests. These charges have
been repudiated by Ciro Guzmán, the leader (director nacional) of the MPD.
Jaime Hurtado is reported to have been a critic of the government, particularly
concerning its removal of squatters (invasores de tierras) in Guayaquil city
and the imprisonment of several leaders (dirigentes) of grass-roots
organizations which publicly demonstrated against government policies in
October 1998 and February 1999. He is also reported to have announced that
he would be calling on government ministers to testify before the National
Congress about a military intelligence report which supposedly claimed links