Attorney General cleared of plagiarism charge, says it was politically motivated; Prefect suggests local toll roads; El Niño plan will cost $266 million

Jun 30, 2023 | 23 comments

Ecuador Attorney General Diana Salazar has been cleared of charges that she plagiarized parts of her undergraduate thesis at Quito’s Universidad Central.

In its statement, the university’s academic review committee concluded that Salazar’s work, completed in 2005, “meets all academic requirements and is entirely original.” The statement added that the university used the services of outside evaluators in its review due to the “high level of interest” in the case.

The plagiarism charge was made by the Popular Legal Action Collective, a group associated with the Citizens Revolution political party.

Attorney General Diana Salazar

In welcoming the university’s assessment, Salazar called the charges “politically motivated harassment” and said she may pursue legal action against those responsible. “This was an attempt to damage my good name and that of my family and I have not yet decided if I will seek remedy,” she said, adding she believes that racism may have played a role in the allegations.

In addition to the personal attack, Salazar said the charges against her were an attempt to discredit legal cases brought by her office, including the “Bribes 2021-2016” case, which resulted in the conviction of former president Rafael Correa, and the conviction of a former ombudsman for sexual assault.

Azuay prefect suggests toll roads
Azuay Prefect Juan Cristóbal Lloret says a solution to poor highway conditions in Azuay Province and the entire southern Andean region of the country, may be the installation of toll booths. Lloret and Cuenca Mayor Cristian Zamora met with Transportation Minister César Rohón in early June and recommended the creation of public-private partnerships to help solve the area’s highway problems.

“I am reluctant to suggest we require people to pay to drive on public roads, but it may be the only solution to our transportation crisis,” Lloret says. “The national government lacks the funds to fix the roads and we desperately need solutions.”

He added that partnerships with the private sector have helped maintain high-quality highways in other parts of Ecuador. “Look at the major roads around Quito and on the coast. These are in good repair and don’t experience the disruptions we have. When repairs are needed, they are done quickly and efficiently.”

Lloret and Zamora are recommending that six area highways be converted to toll roads, including the Cuenca-Azogues-Biblián autopista, the Cuenca-Cumbe-La Paz highway, the Cuenca-Molleturo-Guayaquil highway, and the Cuenca-Léntag-Santa Isabel highway.

According to Lloret, the initial investment by the government to install the toll systems is approximately $50 million.

El Niño plan will cost $266 million
President Guillermo Lasso said Wednesday that his preparation plan for El Niño floods will cost the government $266 million. “We hope the predictions for devastating weather are wrong, but we must be prepared,” he said during a news conference. “We are told there is an 84% probability that this El Niño will be as bad as 1997-1998, which killed hundreds of people and left some coastal communities isolated.”

In addition to planning and preparation, Lasso said funds will be available for bridge and road repairs and the construction of temporary shelters for affected families. Money will also repair public schools, health clinics and hospitals if necessary, the president said.

According to forecasters, the first effects of El Niño will come in November and December and continue into early 2024.

New Barranco condo violates height rules
A condominium project under construction across from the Todos Santos bridge is in violation of the Cuenca historic district rules. Director of Historical and Heritage Resources, Xavier Aguirre, said it is unclear how the five-level building was allowed to begin construction since only four levels are allowed on the Barranco, adjacent the Rio Tomebamba.

“The project began during the previous municipal government, so we do not know the details of how it was permitted,” he said. “We are in contact with the developer and hope to find a remedy, which might include removing the top floor of the structure.”

The condominium project is located on Paseo Tres de Noviembre at Bajada de Todos Santos.

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