Peru declares state of emergency on border with Ecuador amid chaos in that country

By January 12, 2024

Lima, Peru — In response to a wave of violence in Ecuador, Peru’s government has declared a state of emergency along various parts of its northern border. A move it says is to prevent criminals from entering Peru.

On January 10, the Executive Branch formalized the measure through Supreme Decree No. 003-2024-PCM, aiming to strengthen border security in seven provinces located in the departments of Tumbes, Piura, Cajamarca, Amazonas, and Loreto.

“This regulation effectively applies Article No. 44 of the Constitution of Peru, which establishes the primary duty of the State to protect the population from threats to their security,” the statement read.

The state of emergency will be in effect for a period of 60 days and allows the police to control internal order with the assistance of the military. During a state of emergency, the government can take various actions, including restricting freedom of movement, suspending certain constitutional rights, and military intervention.

“The Ministers of Defense and the Interior have held working meetings in the area and are taking all measures to prevent groups related to organized crime from entering Peruvian territory,” read the statement issued by President Dina Boluarte’s administration.

The statement adds that they will collaborate efforts to combat transnational crime in a coordinated manner.

“Internal Armed Conflict” in Ecuador

On January 9, 2024, Ecuador plunged into an unprecedented crisis sparked by the activity of various criminal groups, resulting in a wave of violence that significantly affected several cities, including the capital, Quito, as well as the strategic port city of Guayaquil. 

During the day of terror, criminal gangs killed 10 people, took control of the “TC” television channel while it was broadcasting live, kidnapped police officers, and attacked universities and other institutions. In Guayaquil, the epicenter of the violence, there were incidents of robberies, looting, and shootings in commercial areas.

In response, President Daniel Noboa declared that his country was in a state of “internal armed conflict” and ordered the military to “neutralize” the criminals. Additionally, he classified 22 “transnational organized crime groups as terrorist organizations and non-state belligerent actors.”

In statements to Radio Canela, Noboa has pointed out that Ecuador is fighting “terrorist groups” with more than 20,000 members.

Acts of violence occurred after Noboa declared a state of emergency on Monday, January 8, in response to episodes of violence in six prisons. These incidents involved the kidnapping of police officers and the escape of leaders of two prominent criminal gangs.

Increased violence in Ecuador in recent years

Ecuador, with approximately 18 million inhabitants, has experienced a significant increase in the number of murders and violence by drug trafficking groups since 2021.

According to the latest figures, 2023 ended with more than 7,600 murders, far surpassing 2022, when 4,600 murders were committed, and 2021, which saw 2,100 homicides.

Notable recent cases include the assassination of presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio in August 2023 and the violent takeover of the TC television station on January 9.