On July 23, 2007, the Afro-Ecuadorian Hólger Morales, nicknamed El Pisuleño, was killed by a crowd of more than a hundred people. The crime took place in Atucucho, a slum in the north of Quito built against the steep slopes of the Pichincha volcano. Shortly before, neighborhood residents caught El Pisuleño breaking into a house. El Pisuleño, accused of multiple thefts and robberies in the neighborhood, was kicked and hit by the angry mob. Two police officers on scene failed to stop the crowd. Under the eyes of the officers, El Pisuleño was tied up, doused with gasoline and set alight. He died of his injuries on the spot.
The lynching El Pisuleño was not an isolated incident in Atucucho. Founded in 1988 by means of a so-called ‘invasion’, Atucucho dealt with the typical growing pains of a neighborhood built out of nothing, largely out of sight of the municipality’s controlling institutions. It was within the context of rapid and chaotic expansion, fighting between residents over turf and power, and especially, high levels of crime and insecurity, that Atucucho residents gained a reputation for taking matters into their own hands. Three people were lynched in the period 2000-2010, including El Pisuleño, as I found out studying the neighborhood in 2010.