Ecuador’s President Guillermo Lasso on Thursday demanded the resignation of his cabinet almost a year into a term that has been marked by a crisis of bloody prison violence.
The right-wing president intended to renew his team and make new appointments specifically in the portfolios of energy and mines, agriculture, and human rights, the communications secretariat said.
On Tuesday, he changed his defense chief.
“The national government, in its first year of office, is carrying out an evaluation of its entire cabinet and making the changes it considers relevant,” the secretariat announced on Twitter.
As a result, Lasso has “requested the resignation of ministers,” it added, in an effort to “guarantee the welfare of each citizen.”
Lasso’s government has declared a war on drug trafficking blamed for an explosion of violence in the streets and in prisons.
Some 350 prisoners have been killed since February last year in Latin America’s worst jail massacres.
Criticized for not sufficiently addressing the issue, Lasso has released additional funding for prisons and said extra guards would be hired.
He also created a commission to study the issue in December and its first report was damning.
Despicable conditions had turned prisons into “human warehouses and centers of torture,” the committee said.
Last week, Interior Minister Patricio Carrillo said the country was in the grips of a “crisis of insecurity” linked to crime, which has claimed nearly 1,200 lives so far this year.
Situated between Colombia and Peru — the two largest producers of cocaine in the world — Ecuador seized a record 210 tons of drugs in 2021.
In the first quarter of 2022, seizures exceeded 75 tons, according to the government.