Blackouts resume but rains in the sierra bring some relief; Ecuador ranks high for corruption; Judge shortage, recusal requests clog courts

Nov 6, 2023 | 0 comments

Two-hour electrical blackouts are scheduled to resume on Monday following the holiday weekend, the Energy Ministry announced Saturday. The ministry said, however, that that weekend rains near the country’s largest hydrogeneration plants have provided a boost to power output.

The ministry said that showers near the Coca Codo Sinclair power plant, the country’s largest, have raised the flow rate of the Coca River from 125 cubic meters per second to 179. A smaller increase was recorded at the Paute River near the Paute and Mazar generation plants. In addition, the ministry reports that upgrades and repairs have been completed at the Esmeraldas thermoelectric plant which went online Sunday.

Some areas of Cuenca experienced heavy rainfall Sunday afternoon while other areas remained dry.

“The overall electricity situation continues to improve with the addition of power flows from Colombia, Coca Codo and Paute, and our diesel-powered facilities,” the ministry said. “We will continue our program of two-hour blackouts in most of the country, but these could be reduced or eliminated if rains in the eastern sierra continue.”

Ecuador ranks high in corruption
In a report released last week, the Inter-American Development Bank estimates that corruption cost Ecuador $68 billion between 2007 and 2019. The report said that the losses have continued at similar levels from 2020 through 2022.

The report concluded that Ecuador ranks among the top seven countries in latin America “in terms of financial damages from corruption.”

The largest losses due to corruption, the report said, occurred in the government ministries of defense, interior (particularly in the National Police administration), education and health. In addition, high levels of corruption were also observed in the Judiciary Council and the various entities that manage public works projects.

Since 2019, the report said, corruption of government employees involving illegal drug and mining gangs has increased “significantly.”

Judge shortage, recusal requests clog courts
A lack of judges and legal maneuvers that delay trials have created a massive backlog of cases, crippling Ecuador’s court system, according to a bar association official. “We are at a breaking point with the delays in the judiciary, which means that justice is not being done in many cases,” says Ciro Guzmán, head of the Pichincha Bar Association and secretary of Ecuador Federation of Lawyers.

Guzmán made the comments Saturday in conjunction with letters sent to President-elect Daniel Noboa and the National Council of the Judiciary.

Guzmán urged an “immediate acceleration” of the selection process for new National Court of Justice judges but said that reviews for judge recusal request should also be a priority. “These requests are the legal right of the defense when they believe a judge has a conflict of interest, but the time required for these requests to be reviewed is unreasonable,” he said. In some cases, it takes years.”

According to Guzmán, a number of high-profile cases remain unresolved due to recusal requests and other legal challenges. He cited cases involving corruption charges against former vice presidents Jorge Glas and Lenin Moreno dating back to 2016 and 2018 that await adjudication.

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