A case in point of sexist violence in Ecuador

Published by
Peter Kavinsky

The murder of a lawyer has become an emblem of violence against women in Ecuador

Quito, (EFE).- The murder of Maria Belen Bernal, allegedly strangled in a police station at the hands of her husband, a lieutenant on the run, is meant to be one of the most symbolic faces of violence in Ecuador after causing great alarm in the country due to the circumstances of the case.

The people of Ecuador woke up this Thursday still in shock after their worst suspicions were confirmed in recent hours after Bernal disappeared while visiting her husband Germán Cáceres at the Police High School and activated all alarms.

After ten days of intense searching, the 34-year-old lawyer’s remains were found Wednesday in a ravine near a police school in north Quito, and an autopsy later found she had been strangled, as detailed this Thursday. , General Commander of the National Police Fausto Salinas.

“We know that the event took place in the bedroom (of Cáceres at Police High School),” Salinas explained in statements to radio station Centro.

“From there (Caceres) led the search for an alibi to get rid of guilt. Which did not happen, because the investigation work organized with the prosecutor’s office was carried out very well and, with all the skills and evidence, the investigative event was closed, ”said the head of the Ecuadorian police.

Classified as femicide

Family and friends attend the wake of lawyer Maria Belen Bernal at the University Theater in Quito, Ecuador. EFE/Jose Jakome

Since Lieutenant Cáceres was identified as the prime suspect in the murder based on the evidence collected during the investigation, Ecuadorian authorities such as Interior Minister Patricio Carillo did not hesitate to label the event as a “suicide”.

Thus, if Cáceres is confirmed as the author of the murder, Bernal’s death would be the most revealing person in a long list of femicides recorded this 2022, which, according to feminist organizations, numbered 206 until last Friday.

After the autopsy, the body of Maria Belén Bernal arrived this Wednesday at the theater of the Central University of Ecuador, where a burning chapel was set up in front of the inconsolable Elisabeth Otavalo, the mother of the victim, who was barely trying to calm Bernal’s son. , 13 years old.

“Today my daughter is already an angel, but it doesn’t end there. It ends when the offenders have paid their dues. My daughter is a victim. She died at Police High School. Therefore, this is a state crime, gentlemen. This cannot go unpunished. My daughter will not be just another statistic,” Otavalo said.

The coffin was greeted with loud cries of “Not one less, long live we love each other” and “Let the feminicide collapse hard” in the continuation of Wednesday’s protests by feminist groups that point to the police as an accomplice. in the murder of de Bernal, since everything allegedly took place in a police station full of law enforcement officers.

Shouts “no less”

Family and friends attend the wake of lawyer Maria Belen Bernal at the University Theater in Quito, Ecuador. EFE/Jose Jakome

The case has completely stung the Ecuadorian police, although its senior officers remain in charge, with the exception of the directors of the Higher School, who were fired to be replaced by women in order to implement, according to Minister Carrillo, a gender approach. in the curriculum of the police training center.

At the same time, there are a dozen police officers who have been prosecuted for contributing to the event by act or omission, including a cadet who is in temporary detention.

In the meantime, the investigation into the case continues, including operations to find Caceres, who has been on the run since last week, when he made his first statement to the prosecutor’s office and was released without charge.

As part of the trial, prosecutors said this Thursday that early morning searches were carried out on the homes of Cáceres’ sister in one of Quito’s wealthiest neighborhoods, as well as the home of a friend of the accused cadet.

Ecuadorian police have also activated an international alert about the possibility that Cáceres, who was an instructor at the Police School, has fled the country on a quest for which the government is rewarding up to $20,000 to anyone who provides information. his whereabouts.

Web Edition: Juan C. Ochoa

Peter Kavinsky

Peter Kavinsky is the Executive Editor at cablefreetv.org

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