Accidents force suspension of Grand Prix; Experts warn of aging population; Assembly debates military assistance to police; Inflation up 3.74% for 2022

Jan 9, 2023 | 10 comments

Organizers suspended the Cuenca Grand Prix early Sunday afternoon following a series of accidents they blamed on light rain. Several spectators sustained minor in injuries when a car failed to make a turn on Av. Solano while two drivers were treated at the scene when their cars overturned.

Adrián Castillo, one of the competition sponsors, said the decision was made for the safety of spectators and drivers. “The rain created slippery conditions and made the race impractical because of the danger it posed. We are happy there were no serious injuries but were worried this could change is we continued.”

A race car overturns near spectators during Sunday’s Grand Prix.

Castillo said prizes would be awarded based on standings at the time of the suspension and said the race will return in 2024.

In social media posts, the Grand Prix organizing committee said the response from race entries, sponsors and spectators was “very impressive and more than we expected.” It said an estimated 12,000 spectators watched the race along a 10 km. course.

Experts warn of an aging population
Demographers at the University of Guayaquil say Ecuador is not prepared to deal with a rapidly aging population. “Ecuador trails the countries of Europe and North America in this trend but it is occurring here too,” says researcher Pedro Ortega. “The planning must begin now if we want to avoid a crisis. “Sixty years ago Ecuadorian families had an average of six children. Today the number is less than three.”

According to Ortega’s research, more than half of Ecuador’s population will be over age 60 by 2065. “This will have a direct impact on many government services, especially the Social Security and health care systems,” Ortega says. “We are already seeing the effect of this in the hospitals and clinics operated by the Health Ministry and the Social Security Institute. Every day, we read of the lack of medicine and the impossibility of obtaining appointments with doctors. If nothing is not done soon, we will begin to see an impact on Social Security pensions. Much more money must be allocated for these services.”

Ortega asks: “And what does the country plan to do about the elderly who work in the informal sector, who will have no pension and limited access to health care?” He offers statistics from the International Labor Organization that shows only 7% of Ecuadorians 65 and over have contributed to Social Security or other retirement funds. “The ILO estimates that six out of ten Ecuadorians do not have the economic resources to support their basic needs in old age. Their care will be left to their families or the state.”

Susana Tito Lucero, president of the Ecuadorian Society of Geriatrics and Gerontology, agrees. “We are rapidly approaching a crisis we have not seen before and, sadly, there seems to be no urgency on the part of government to address it.”

Inflation ends 2022 3.74% higher
Ecuador registered its highest annual inflation rate in 11 years in 2022, at 3.74%, but it was still the lowest in South America. According to the National Institute of Statistics and Censuses, the products and services showing the highest rate of inflation were food, non-alcoholic beverages, transportation and personal hygiene products.

Inflation in December was 4.16%, the Institute said, with the cost of the Basic Family Basket, increasing $7 to $763.44.

Among all South American countries, inflation averaged 8.4% in 2022.

Assembly debates military assistance to police
The National Assembly has opened discussions to allow the armed forces to assist police in combating organized crime. According to Assembly President Virgilio Saquicela, most members appear to favor the change, which requires revisions to the constitution. President Guillermo Lasso proposed the revision in November.

Opponents of the change say it could be used against peaceful protests, like those promoted by indigenous organizations. The Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities (Conaie) claims it will “legalize military brutality against the poor” while some supporters of former president Rafael Correa say the definition of the constitutional revision is too vague.

Saquicela said that representatives of the armed forces and National Police will be called to testify before the Assembly to explain the constitutional change in the coming weeks.