Officially, to combat growing insecurity in Ecuador, which has a population of 18 million. This decision was demanded by part of the population, tired of the violence that plagues the country, where the homicide rate has risen from 13.7 to 25.5 per 100,000 inhabitants over the past two years.

It would be largely due to criminal groups, the Ecuadorian ports having become a hub for the trafficking of cocaine from Colombia. It is also the coastal provinces that are the most affected, starting with the city of Guayaquil, where the president has just instituted a state of emergency, with a curfew from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m.

His decree, signed on April 2, stipulates that any civilian over the age of 25 now has the right to carry a small caliber weapon.

Not quite, let’s be honest. Because the prerequisites for obtaining a weapon are quite numerous. In particular, it is necessary to provide a psychological certificate issued by the Ministry of Defense, not to have a criminal record and to have passed toxicological tests. “It will definitely not be as easy as in the United States,” said Sebastián Hurtado, an analyst with Prófitas, based in Quito. “But this new law clearly stands out from what we have seen in Ecuador for 10 years, where we have seen rather the opposite trend. »

A part of the population supports it. But others are worried about the consequences and fear that this decree will exacerbate violence and repression, particularly against indigenous populations. Some see it above all as the government’s inability to ensure the safety of citizens.

Without a doubt. But Guillermo Lasso plays his all. This right-wing president is currently very weak politically and this decree is also seen as a strategy to cling to power. “I think it’s a desperate decision,” summarizes Sebastián Hurtado. By reassuring part of the population, he diverts the public from the real issues that have haunted his government for several months. »

Elected by a narrow margin in 2021 (52.4%), this former banker is increasingly isolated and his popularity rating is at an all-time low. He lost his political support and the confidence of voters in a context of galloping inflation, the deterioration of public services and uncontrolled violence. Mr. Lasso’s CREO party also lost municipal elections in early February – including the major cities of Quito and Gaya – as well as a referendum on a dozen crucial issues (reduction of the number of parliamentarians, extradition of drug traffickers), with which he intended to regain control and consolidate his power.

And it’s not over… Mr. Lasso will soon be subject to an impeachment vote in parliament, which is controlled by the opposition. He is accused of being linked to corruption cases, but he denounces for his part a “political trial”. The dismissal is pronounced if two-thirds of the House approves it, that is to say 92 elected out of 137. It is the second time in two years that he is subjected to such a test. He had survived in 2022, in the wake of large demonstrations led by indigenous groups. “But I believe that this time the opposition will get enough votes,” predicts Sebastián Hurtado. I believe his days are numbered.” Unless…

Guillermo Lasso still has a card up his sleeve: the dissolution of Parliament. This would allow him to rule by decree for three or four months before calling an election. If we rely on the last municipal elections, a new ballot would undoubtedly be to the advantage of the opposition, including the Citizen Revolution party of former socialist president Rafael Correa (2007-2017), convicted of corruption and currently in exile. in Belgium. This would confirm the wave of the left that is currently flooding Latin America. But this political crisis could also have unfortunate repercussions, considering the growing potential for armed violence in the country, small arms or not…