Travel Safety Ecuador

Culture Shock! Ecuador: A Survival Guide to Customs and Etiquette (Culture Shock! Guides)

September 02, 2009


El Universo reported recently that the residents of Guayaquil do not live a day without thinking about crime and the possibility of being a victim. I have spent thirty years visiting Guayaquil and have never seen a situation which seemed as dangerous as it does now. Crime has permeated all levels of society and violence is on the rise. In other analysis, I have suggested that part of the increase in crime may be due to the return of many Ecuadorians from abroad since the beginning of the world financial crisis. Employment is so difficult to obtain that the thousands who have returned place additional pressure on the job market. Newspaper reports earlier this year indicated that many of the university graduates in Ecuador are having a very difficult time finding employment in their specialties and often settle for positions in which they are over qualified (often marketing or sales positions).

In my last edition of "Culture Shock Ecuador" I recommended that Guayaquil now possessed numerous reasons to visit as a tourist. The city had made tremendous progress since the influx of tax dollars for projects, namely, the Malecon 2000, which is a world class project. Even more impressive to this author was the turnaround of Santa Ana hill which sits adjacent to "Las Penas". I remember thirty years ago, this was a no mans' zone and if you entered you may never leave with your life or your wallet. This is a wonderful example of a community and local government turning around a neighborhood with money and imagination. Residents of Guayaquil were very proud of the improvements in their city and there was a new sense of pride. No one could refer to Guayaquil as the "armpit" of Ecuador. However, crime is now a significant problem for those residing in or visiting Guayquil. It may be to soon to call it a war zone, it is certainly not a time to take safety for granite in almost any situation. The residents live in fear daily and police do not seem to have gotten control of security at an acceptable level.

Some Facts: There are at least 28 crimes committed daily that include assault, express kidnappings, and theft along with sexual assaults. This is compared to 2005, when an average of 13 crimes were committed. In the first seven months of this year there have been 176 robo expresses committed and over 4000 robberies. Shopping in malls is also no guaranty of safety any longer as both patrons and stores are under increase threat. Murder is also on the rise. While firearms are not currently permitted, guns are readily available. A recent report submitted that many of the juveniles arrested in Guayaquil are in possession of a firearm. An important aspect to remember is that many crimes go unreported in Guayaquil and in much of Ecuador. Therefore, the crime situation is much more dangerous then the above stated numbers represent. Most residents have very little trust in the criminal justice system. Victims also are reluctant to report crime in fear of retaliation by assailants. I recently had a close friend who has lived in Guayaquil as an expatriate for thirty years, was held up at gunpoint while getting out of his taxi. He did not report it to authorities. He believed there was no reason to do so as nothing would come of it. He was just happy to be alive.

Other Articles:

Anti crime group appears in Guayaquil - Vows to fight crime, Large number of gun offenses in Guayaquil conducted by minors


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Inside Secrets to Ecuadorian Culture - Culture Shock! Ecuador 

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