QUITO – Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa on Tuesday denounced an apparent threat to attack him while he was making a tour of projects in the Tabacundo zone, some 60 km (37 mi.) north of Quito.
The president, in remarks to journalists, said that, after visiting several projects, he was scheduled to have lunch with a group of peasants but he received an alert from his security team regarding threatening messages that had been received by Tabacundo Mayor Frank Gualsaqui.
“What are you thinking? What do you think you are, the one who saved the town? We’ll kill you along with Correa, today, you’ll see,” reads the text of one of the messages received at 1:16 p.m. Later, Correa said, another message was received saying: “You’ll see today how many people will die, today in the park, it will be obvious.”
Correa, after reading the messages, said that his security team recommended that he suspend the activities he had planned to undertake during the afternoon, including eating with the peasants.
The president said that he receives these kinds of threats daily, but he added that by tracing the cellphone number from which the messages came, it was determined that they originated close to or at the site of the lunch, considerably raising the risk level.
If security officials would have determined that the messages came from distant places, perhaps there would have been no bigger “problem,” said Correa.
Therefore, he said, the people who had gathered for the lunch were evacuated and other events were suspended, to prevent a potential massacre.
“They’re investigating the case, the owner of the telephone was located, he’s being investigated. He says that he did not make the calls, they took his telephone from him,” but the inquiry is continuing, Correa added.
“In any case, given this serious threat and, above all, because the call came from the site of the event, we had to cancel the presence of the president at the lunch,” he said, offering to hold the event in the future.
“If this is true, it’s a group of people (who are involved). Very probably it’s not true, but rather an outburst by some scatterbrained person,” said the president.
Correa noted that he had also moved up his meeting with the reporters and that the site of the press conference was changed.