Amazon community residents oppose new prison; 1,327 arrested in anti-terrorist operations; New referendum questions released; Schools reopen

Jan 15, 2024 | 0 comments

Residents of the Amazonian city of Shell say they will fight President Daniel Noboa’s plan to build a maximum-security prison in Pastaza Province. Noboa released design details of two new prisons on Friday, the second planned for Santa Elena Province.

Rolando Morales, president of the Shell Parish Council, complained that the decision to build a prison 20 kilometers from Shell was made in secrecy, without local consultation. “We are shocked and disappointed at the announcement since no one talked to us about it first,” he said.

Police display four men arrested Friday in Guayas Province.

He added that previous government plans for Pastaza Province included projects to attract tourism. “So, instead of promoting tourism or conservation in our area, and taking advantage of our biodiversity, they reward us by making us the sewer of the country.”

Morales said the community will mount protests if the government proceeds with the prison plan. “We have the support of the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of the Ecuadorian Amazon (Confeniae), as well as other civic and social organizations, and will fight to keep this monstrosity out of our homeland.”

1,327 arrets made in ‘terror’ campaign
The Armed Forces and National Police Joint Command reported Sunday it has made 1,327 arrests of suspected gang members, 143 of them with “confirmed links to terrorist gangs” during Plan Fénix. The Command said a total of 12,974 operations have been conducted in 18 of the country’s 24 provinces.

According to an official statement, the Command said it conducted 32 raids aimed at dismantling criminal cells associated with 22 gangs designated as “terrorist organizations.” It reported that 491 firearms, 268 knives, 10,241 rounds of ammunition, 462 explosives, 343 vehicles, 14 boats, as well as large quantities of drugs and cash have been seized in the past five days.

In-person classes resume
In-person classes resume in public schools in all but six provinces on Monday. Classes were suspended Tuesday afternoon following a series of violent attacks and were conducted online through the rest of the week.

Classes will continue to be held virtually in Guayas, El Oro, Los Ríos, Esmeraldas, Santo Domingo de los Tsáchilas and Pichincha Provinces until further notice, the Ministry of Education announced Sunday.

New referendum questions submitted 
The government has published nine questions it plans to add to the referendum it will submit to voters in March or April. The questions, additions to the 11 released two weeks ago, were sent to the Constitutional Court for review on Wednesday.

According to Deputy Minister of Government Esteban Torres, the new questions focus on security and employment issues.

The new questions added to the consultation are as follows:

  1. Do you agree to allow the extradition of Ecuadorians for crimes committed in other countries, under the conditions established in the Constitution, international instruments and the law?
  2. Do you support the amendment of the Constitution and the reform of the Organic Law on Asset Forfeiture to deprive criminals of assets of illicit origin?
  3. Do you agree to declare the areas mentioned in Annex 5 as territories of national interest, in order to eradicate illegal mining?
  4. Do you support the President being able to classify as urgent bills not only related to economic matters?
  5. Do you agree that the President may grant pardons during the conduct of criminal cases to officials of the National Police, the Armed Forces or the Prison Security Corps?
  6. Do you support the creation of specialized constitutional judicatures to decide all legal questions related to the constitution?
  7. Do you agree that the State should promote foreign investment and recognize international arbitration as a method of settling disputes?
  8. Do you support the fact that the personnel of the Armed Forces and the National Police should be tried by judges specialized exclusively in military and police criminal matters?
  9. Do you agree to amend the Constitution and reform the Labour Code to all and regulate fixed-term and hourly employment contracts?

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