More than150 Ecuadorians, most of them university students, have arrived in Poland from Ukraine in the last 24 hours, the Foreign Ministry reports. The ministry says that an unknown number of other Ecuadorians have crossed the borders into Slovakia, Hungary, Romania and Moldova, fleeing the Russian invasion that entered its fifth day Monday.
“Many of our people have found themselves caught in the middle of a war they did not expect,” Foreign Minister Juan Carlos Holguin said Sunday night. He added that as many as 1,600 Ecuadorians may have been in Ukraine when the invasion began. “Our estimate continues to rise as we hear from more families who are worried about members who may be in harm’s way.”
Although hundreds of Ecuadorians may be headed for the Ukrainian border, many others have chosen to stay, Holguin. “We are hearing that some university students are remaining in their dormitories, fearful of joining the rush to the borders.”
Social media reports from Ukraine tell of trips of 24 to 48 hours to leave the country, with trains and buses operating at capacity, unable to accommodate most would-be passengers.
Some students say they faced extortion at the Polish border as immigration agents collected passports and then demanded $50 to $100 for their return. “It is terrible here at the frontier, people are being robbed and cheated and there is complete chaos,” a woman wrote her parents in Cuenca. Adding to the drama, she said, was the fact that Ukrainian police were detaining young Ukrainian men of military service age who were attempted to leave the country.
Assembly president shuts down effort to replace her
National Assembly President Guadalupe Llori refused to allow debate Thursday night of efforts that could lead to her ouster. A coalition of UNES, Pachakutik and Social Christian members accuse her of mismanagement and supporting the “neoliberal agenda of [President Guillmero] Lasso.”
Despite shouts of “appeal!, appeal!,” Llori ended the session on procedural grounds and ordered the lights in the Assembly hall turned off.
Pachakutik assemblywoman Patricia Sánchez said after the session that the issue of Llori’s leadership will be addressed again this week. “We will debate the dereliction of duty of Ms. Llori and we will remove her from her position,” she said. “She has committed mismanagement by promoting the far-right policies of the president and preventing important matters to be debated. The National Assembly is an independent body, not an extension of executive power.”
Assemblyman Fernando Villavicencio, a supporter of Llori, says the opposition coalition is an effort to install “Correista” authority in the Assembly. “They may prevail in the end but let’s be clear, this is an attempt to replace Guadalupe Llori with Correistas,” he said. “Beyond the Assembly, they want to take control of the legislative administrative committee, the taxation commission, the Citizen Participation Council and replace the attorney general. Ultimately, they want to depose Lasso and to forgive [former president Rafael] Correa and bring him back to Ecuador.”
Correa assets seized in bribe conviction
The assets of 20 former Ecuadorian government and Pais Alliance political party officials, including former president Rafael Correa, were seized Friday as part of the Bribery 2012-2016 convictions. The National Court of Justice ordered the seizures which included real estate, automobiles and personal belongings.
Most of the property taken was in Guayaquil although some was seized in Quito and Cuenca. Police took possession of a Guayaquil condominium co-registered in Correa’s name as well as a building and parking lot owned by former government minister Walter Solís.
Among the other Bribes convicts who lost property were Vinicio Alvarado, former National Assembly members Viviana Bonilla and Christian Viteri, and businessmen and Pais officials Bolívar Sánchez and Pedro Vicente Verduga.
Correa and nine others of those convicted in the Bribes 2012-2016 case involving bribery and extortion to collect political party funds are currently living in exile. Correa lives in Belgium.
Cajas highway closed again by landslide
The Cuenca-Molleturo-Guayaquil highway was closed Saturday due to a new landslide at San Pedro de Yumate, near Molleturo. Traffic was stopped for several hours before being turned back. On Sunday, traffic was being rerouted from the Selena restaurant to the Ministry of Transportation work site.
Transit police said that the alternate route through Cañar Province and Zhud remains open despite heavy rains Saturday.