Julio Augusto García Romero

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Photographer García Romero died after inhaling tear gas while covering a demonstration against then-President Lucio Gutiérrez. Protesters were moving toward the Palacio de Carondelet, the seat of the executive branch, when police fired water cannons and tear gas grenades into the crowd.

The Chilean-born García Romero, 58, was taking photographs when he collapsed, the Guayaquil-based daily El Universo reported. He was taken to Red Cross headquarters in Quito, where he arrived with symptoms of asphyxia. Later, he suffered cardiorespiratory arrest and was transferred to a nearby hospital, where he was pronounced dead, according to Jonny Franco, spokesman for the Ecuadoran Red Cross.

García Romero worked for the small Chilean news agency La Bocina, El Universo said. Local sources told CPJ he also worked for the weekly Punto de Vista. He lived in Ecuador for about 20 years.

Protests in Ecuador increased in frequency after April 1, when Supreme Court magistrates--appointed by Gutiérrez and his allies in Congress--dismissed corruption charges against two former presidents and a former vice president. Gutiérrez was later forced from office and faced prosecution himself.

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