In Ecuador, which has been shaken by gang violence, the 27-year-old mayor of the town of San Vicente, Brigitte García, was shot. García was elected last year, at the age of 26, as the South American country’s youngest mayor. Among other things, she campaigned for better access to drinking water for the approximately 17,000 residents of San Vicente. Her body and that of her government spokesman Jairo Loor were discovered in a car on a Pacific beach near San Vicente on Sunday night (local time), police said.

“I am devastated,” wrote former Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa, who like García belongs to the left-wing Revolución Ciudadana party, on the X platform, formerly Twitter. Luisa González, who ran for the party in last year’s presidential election and lost in the runoff, wrote: “Nobody is safe in Ecuador.”

Several politicians were killed in Ecuador last year. Eleven days before the first round of the presidential election in August, Construye Party candidate Fernando Villavicencio was shot dead in the capital, Quito.

Ecuador is an important transit country for cocaine from Colombia, Peru and Bolivia, which is smuggled to the United States and Europe via the port city of Guayaquil. Violence has increased dramatically in the Andean country in recent years.

On January 8th, the government of President Daniel Noboa declared a state of emergency, which is still in effect, after repeated bloody fights broke out in prisons, some of which were controlled by gangs, and a crime boss broke out. The next day, gang violence continued to escalate. Gunmen stormed a studio of the state television station TC Televisión and took hostages. Noboa then issued a decree declaring 22 criminal groups terrorist organizations and military targets.