Blackouts suspended until January 2024; Court chief will remain in prison – and get no vacation either; Kidnapping of British citizen was ‘for the money’

Dec 20, 2023 | 0 comments

The Ministry of Energy said Tuesday it is suspending electricity blackouts until at least January 2, 2024. It credited recent rains and a drop in power usage for the decision.

Through her X account, Energy Minister Andrea Arrobo said that higher flow levels on the Rios Paute and Coca and improved management practices at hydropower generation reservoirs has allowed a “temporary cession” of blackouts. “We continue to evaluate the situation and will make a decision at the end of the year regarding electricity rationing in January,” she said. “We are pleased to announce today, however, there will be no interruptions through the holiday season.”

Kidnapped British national Colin Armstrong at an amusement park he owns in Yorkshire, England.

On Monday, the Energy Ministry reported that electricity generation at three plants on the Rio Paute had doubled following weekend rains. The plants are the largest source of electricity for the country and had been operating at about 30% of capacity since early November due to the extended drought.

In her X post, Arrobo also said a reduction in per-hour power usage was also a factor in Tuesday’s decision. “We have seen a 4% reduction in the public’s use of electricity over the past two weeks and this has reduced pressure on the demand,” she said.

Court chief will remain in prison – and gets no vacation either
The National Court of Justice rejected a habeas corpus request from attorneys for Wilman Terán, president of the Council of the Judiciary. Terán was arrested December 15 along with 30 others in Operation Metastasis for alleged involvement in organized drug crime.

The court ruled that evidence against Terán was sufficient to continue his incarceration during the pre-trial and trial period. Jorge Haz, Terán’s lawyer, claimed the detention was “arbitrary or illegitimate” based on prosecutors’ claims against him.

Earlier on Tuesday, the Council of the Judiciary rejected Terán’s request for a vacation. Álvaro Román, who replaced Terán as president of the judiciary council, said the request was “inappropriate” based on the charges against him and his imprisonment. “If he is cleared of the allegations and released from prison, we will consider this again,” Román said.

Council member Carlos Iglesias called the vacation request “absurd and arrogant” under the circumstances.

According to Haz, had vacation time been granted, he would have presented it to the Court of Justice in support of Terán’s habeas corpus petition.

Kidnapping of British citizen was ‘all about the money’
Ecuadorian police and the British embassy agree that the Saturday morning kidnapping of British businessman and former honorary consul Colin Armstrong had nothing to do with his diplomatic role. “The intent was financial extortion,” National Police Captain Jorge Ramirez said Monday. “Mr. Armstrong had reported numerous threats in the past, all demanding protection payment, and we believe the threats and the abduction were made by the Los Tiguerones criminal organization.”

British media had claimed the kidnapping was connected to last week’s Operation Metastasis arrests of judges and police officials allegedly bribed by a drug gang leader. Two newspapers suggested that the abduction was a “message to the world” from drug cartels rejecting Ecuador’s crackdown on corruption.

Armstrong, 78, is the owner of the agricultural products company Agripac, one of the largest corporations in Ecuador He is listed by Forbes magazine as one of the wealthiest people in Great Britian. He and his Colombian partner spend most of their time in Ecuador, the British embassy reports, living on a 200-hectare plantation in Los Ríos Province.

Armstrong also has large landholdings in North Yorkshire, England, according to media reports.

British intelligence services are assisting Ecuadorian police in the search for Armstrong who was abducted by a group of about 15 armed men.

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