Now Empowered, Noboa Can Still Avoid Authoritarian Drift

By Robert Muggah

Ecuador’s president gained a resounding endorsement for “mano dura” policies against organized crime in Sunday’s referendum. A delicate democratic balance is at stake.

RIO DE JANEIRO — Once considered an oasis of stability in South America, Ecuador has been rocked by drug-related violence in recent years. In what looks like a regional trend, a majority of Ecuadorians backed a series of controversial proposals to militarize the fight against organized crime. But the package of security measures proposed in a referendum last Sunday isn’t guaranteed to make residents safer. While burnishing the interim government’s "tough on crime" credentials, they risk militarizing law enforcement, overwhelming overcrowded prisons, fragmenting...

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