The country has been grappling with gang warfare for decades, leading to widespread unrest. However, the situation escalated when President Daniel Noboa declared an “internal armed conflict,” prompting officials to seek assistance from the army. This led to the arrest of 7,000 people, with all gangs being labeled as “terror groups.” Consequently, the country’s carnival season was able to take place after several years, albeit with a heightened military presence among the revellers. During the festivities, soldiers in full uniform and armed with heavy weaponry were present.
Despite the crackdown, local news outlets reported several arrests during the celebrations, including members of the Los Lobos gang who were caught with illegal weapons and a stolen motorbike. In response, Brian Nelson, America’s Treasury Undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, voiced support for Ecuador’s efforts to combat drug trafficking, prison gangs, and violence in order to reclaim its streets. The celebrations were restricted to daytime, as a 60-day nationwide state of emergency was declared, imposing curfews on various towns and cities throughout the country.