The government is blaming staff shortages and supply problems for long delays in delivering cedulas, passports and drivers’ licenses. The National Civil Registry office says it is processing more than 360,000 requests for cedulas and passports with the waiting time from application to delivery averaging three months.
Transportation Ministry officials report similar delays for driver’s licenses, with a wait time of 70 to 90 days from application to delivery.
Officials say that the delays could get worse before they get better. “There has been a massive rise in demand for documents as the pandemic ends,” says Jorge Roldán, spokesman for the Civil Registry. “Last week, we were delivering 7,000 cedulas a day but were receiving 8,500 applications. We are working through the backlog but it continues to grow.”
In addition to an increase in demand, Roldán says that a shortage of materials is also slowing deliveries. “We use special paper and digital chips for passports and identity cards and these are not arriving from international providers.”
The Civil Registry announced Wednesday that it will open on Saturday until May 28 in an effort to reduce the backlog. “We are also talking to other product suppliers to find the materials we need to produce the documents,” Roldán said.
Driver’s license offices report similar problems but say motorists with expired licenses can continue to drive if they have an appointment time for the renewal test.
Interior minister receives death threats
Interior Minister Patricio Carrillo has received at least five death threats following several high-profile drug busts and the arrests of criminal gang suspects. Since early April, a record 10 tons of cocaine and other illegal drugs have been seized in operations at the ports in Guayaquil and Manta.
On Friday, National Police arrested 18 men suspected of assisting the Los Tigerious drug cartel in transporting cocaine and other drugs to the U.S. and Europe. Among those arrested were a Guayaquil football star and three police officers.
Most of the threats to Carrillo were delivered on social media although threatening leaflets were left Saturday in the parking lot of Guayaquil television station Teleamazonas.
The Ministry also reports that unnamed police personnel, prosecutors and judges have received threats in recent weeks as a result of legal action against drug shipments and criminal gang members.
In a Saturday morning press conference in Cuenca, President Guillermo Lasso said the threats against Carrillo are the result of “successful operations” against drug gangs. “He expected this and understands they are because of the arrests of suspected criminals and the appropriation of drug shipments,” Lasso said. “We are providing the minister with the protection he needs to continue this good work. He has my full support as well as that of the Ecuadorian people.”
Judicial Council to investigate habeas corpus rulings
President of the National Court of Justice Iván Saquicela has requested that the National Judiciary Council and the State Attorney General’s Office investigate recent habeas corpus rulings by two judges.
The judges, Diego Moscoso and Pedro Moreira, ordered the release from prison of former vice president Jorge Glas and Junior Roldán Paredes, one of the leaders of the Los Choneros drug gang.
Saquicela filed a request with Attorney General, Diana Salazar to “investigate the conduct of any judicial officer who may have disregarded legal facts and precedents in his actions to release inmates from prison.”
Saquicela added that he was not “prejudging” Moscoso and Moreira but said their rulings were “at variance” with standard judicial practice.