“They killed my friend,” Christian Zurita wrote on his X account —formerly Twitter— on August 9, when the crime against presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio was about to become the news that would change the presidential elections of the next August 20.
Less than a week later, and after some twists and turns, Zurita was confirmed by the Movimiento Construye party as the candidate for president of Ecuador, replacing Villavicencio. They had previously announced that the candidate would be Villavicencio’s running mate, Andrea González Náder, but the lack of details on the part of the National Electoral Council made them change their minds.
Zurita shared the journalistic office with Villavicencio and in recent months had been working on his political campaign until, after the attack that ended his life, he agreed to take his place in the race for the presidency. But who is Christian Zurita?
An “outraged” journalist
Zurita was born in Quito, Ecuador, 53 years ago. According to a profile released by the Construye party, as an investigative journalist he has specialized in issues of corruption, organized crime and drug trafficking.
Journalist and candidate for president of Construye, Christian Zurita, with his running mate, Andrea Gonzalez, in Quito, Ecuador, on August 13, 2023. (Credit: MARTIN BERNETTI / AFP via Getty Images)
Journalist and candidate for president of Construye, Christian Zurita, with his running mate, Andrea González, in Quito, Ecuador, on August 13, 2023. (Credit: MARTIN BERNETTI / AFP via Getty Images)
In addition, for 30 years he has worked as a journalist in different media, such as Vistazo Magazine, Teleamazonas, Diario Expreso and El Universo. He also founded the sites MilHojas.is and PeriodismodeInvestigación.com.
In the latter, along with his profile, Zurita defines himself: “Indignant journalist. There is no power that he does not confront, nor issues that are alien to him. Persistent enemy of tyrannies, critic of populist journalism. Redeemed leftist.”
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In his profile, Zurita lists the recognitions he has received, from the Jorge Mantilla Ortega Award, the data journalism award from the Inter-American Press Association and TRACE, for his regional collaborative work.
He is also co-author, along with the journalist Juan Carlos Calderón, of the book “El Gran Hermano”, for which Rafael Correa took him to trial.
Zurita and Villavicencio, colleagues and friends
According to the profile released by Construye, Zurita and Villavicencio shared a friendship “from university classrooms” and were “partner(s) in the fight against corruption and mafias, through journalism.”
In addition, he adds, they wrote together the book “Green Rice. The Bribery Industry”, from 2019, which reveals how public officials and militants of former President Rafael Correa’s party managed bribes and kept accounts of millions of dollars in bribes.
Invitation to the presentation of the book “Arroz Verde”, by Zurita and Villavicencio.
Invitation to the presentation of the book “Arroz Verde”, by Zurita and Villavicencio. (Courtesy: Investigative Journalism)
“Thirteen reports collected in a single book detail precisely how national and international companies installed presidents in Ecuador, the same ones that were awarded contracts in the public sector. La Fuente and Milhojas verified in a complex investigation that Odebrecht and other multinationals did install presidents in Ecuador. ‘Arroz Verde’ shows that we had a decade of illegitimate governments that knelt before dozens of mafia companies from the private sector,” an article on the site PeriodismodeInvestigación.com founded by Zurita describes about the work.