Ecuador's Legislative Leader Escapes Assassination

The President of the Ecuadorian National Assembly, Gabriela Rivadeneira, narrowly averted death on February 16 when security officials discovered an undetonated explosive device in an envelope she had received.

Rivadeneira had just entered a meeting of the Council on Legislative Administration to discuss an ongoing economic project when she received the envelope containing the device. Fortunately, the device did not detonate and security officials were able to remove it to a safe location. The attorney general and National Police are investigating the incident.

Head of Security Victor Hugo Zarate identified the explosive as RDX Pentaerythitrol tetranitrate also known as PENT. The explosive, as Zarate confirmed, was meant to detonate when Mrs. Rivadeneira opened the CD case in which it was hidden. Security officials classified the device as capable of medium range and lethal impact.

There have been few public statements on suspected culprits, but Zarate has claimed to know the identity of those responsible. A thorough investigation is underway.

Rivadeneira has since begun a twitter campaign against political violence with the hashtag #NoMasViolenciaPolitica or #NoMorePoliticalViolence. The first female National Assembly head stated, "independently of whatever political difference, what must take precedence is life and respect for the integrity of all human beings.” She later added, “In politics, there are no enemies but rather adversaries and in this context, I make a call for peaceful coexistence.”

Rivadeneira is a member of Ecuador’s ruling party, AlianzaPAIS, under current-President Rafael Correa. Though the motivation for the assassination attempt is unclear, it comes in the context of an important election set to occur on February 19. Such violence thus constitutes an omen for Ecuador’s current political climate and possible unrest in a nation facing economic stagnation, shifting regional political trends, and a complicated relationship with the international community.