Beware of political opinion polls, experts warn; Activity increases at Sangay volcano; Police arrest Los Choneros gang leader; El Niño reduces crab catch

Jul 17, 2023 | 7 comments

The National Electoral Council is warning Ecuador voters to be suspicious of early election poll predictions for the presidency and the National Assembly. “Many of the polling organizations have not been recognized by the CNE and many of them are hired by individual campaigns and provide distorted results,” the CNE said in a statement.

Pedro Donoso, director of a public relations company and a former polltaker agrees and says that the designed intent of several of the polls is to influence voters. “There is a natural tendency for some voters to support campaign leaders and some polls try to take advantage of this,” he says.

Another reason to be suspicious of polls is that, historically, they have been grossly inaccurate in Ecuadorian elections. “Look back a few months ago and you see one of the major polls predicting that all of [President Guillermo] Lasso’s referendum questions would pass,” says Donoso. “Well, once the votes were counted, they all lost. We’ve seen this happen in recent presidential elections as well.”

Sangay volcano in Morona Santiago Province.

Donoso says a composite of several polls provides a more accurate view of public opinion. “These can be distorted as well, however, since they represent a collection of distortions but, in general, they provide a better overview.

In a “poll-of-polls” compiled by the University of San Francisco political science faculty, candidates of the Correista Citizens Revolution are leading in the races for the presidency and National Assembly. CR presidential candidate Luisa González holds an 11% lead over four tightly bunched candidates, led by Yaku Pérez.

Activity increases at Sangay volcano
Geologists and risk managers are keeping a close watch on the Sangay volcano following an increase in explosions and earthquakes. “Activity at Sangay has shown a rapid rise since the beginning of July, especially since July 12,” Ecuador’s Geophysical Institute said Sunday.

The Institute reports that about 500 explosions per hour are being recorded and that earthquake activity has also increased. There has also been an increase in lava flows associated with the explosions and gas and ash clouds are rising about one kilometer above the crater, according to reports.

Sangay is located in Morono Santiago Province, 108 kilometers (67 miles) northeast of Cuenca.

Criminal gang leader arrested
The National Police say they have arrested the leader of one of Ecuador’s largest criminal gangs. They reported that “El Fercho” was among 10 people taken into custody Saturday night in Manta.

Interior Minister Juan Zapata called the capture of “El Fercho” – no other name given – was a major blow to the Los Choneros, who are blamed for dozens of murders in Manta, Guayaquil and in the nation’s prisons. “This is more indication that our efforts to curb organized crime in our port cities is proving effective,” Zapata said.

Police Commander General Fausto Salinas said that “El Fercho’s” arrest was made as part of a routine response to a stolen vehicle report.

El Niño reduces crab catch 
Ecuador crab fishermen have seen their daily catch drop by 30% and more, a result of rising ocean levels caused by the developing El Niño.

In the Guayas Province port of Naranjal, most crabbers say they have been unable to reach their daily quota of 72 crabs since early in the year. Crabbers in El Oro and Esmeraldas Provinces, report a similar drop in catch amounts.

The national fisheries office says higher ocean temperatures have raised the sea level by as much 28 centimeters, which affects the mangrove forests where crabs breed and develop. “The higher waves disrupt the normal life-cycle of the crabs and reduces overall numbers,” it reports.


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