A consortium of business and professional groups gathered Tuesday in the San Luis convent courtyard to announce a campaign to revitalize Cuenca. Called “In Cuenca there are good people”, the campaign aims to show the city’s resolve to overcome the Covid-19 health crisis.
“Our objectives are to emphasize the importance of maintaining the precautions to stop the spread of the virus but also in inspire the pride, strength and dynamism that will lead us back to good health and prosperity,” said Paúl Moreno, campaign director.
A secondary objective, Moreno said, is to encourage officials to continue the reopening process that is underway and to maintain conditions that allow business and social activities to resume under controlled conditions. “The pandemic has generated bad news, fear and depression among Cuenca’s citizens and our message is a positive one, that we must remain strong and press forward with the recovery.”
A number of government officials attended the event, including Mayor Pedro Palacios and Azuay Governor Xavier Martínez, who pledged their support for the campaign goals.
Flower market reopens
Closed for almost four months due to the health emergency, Cuenca’s Plaza de las Flores reopened Tuesday. Located on Calle Mariscal Sucre, opposite the cathedral, the flower market is one of the city’s major tourist attractions. “There are no tourists now so we ask the citizens of the city to visit the market and patronize the vendors who are going back to work,” says Fausto Guillén, market manager.
To reopen their stalls, vendors must show a negative Covid-19 test result. “Not all positions are open since some merchants still need to take the test but we hope to be back to full capacity within two to three weeks,” Guillén says.
Free tram rides end July 24
Free service on Cuenca’s tram system ends in two weeks when passengers will need an electronic card or ticket to come aboard. “We will conclude the 60-day operational test that offered free ridership on July 24 and begin commercial service,” says tram director Carolina Ormaza. “The response from the public has been fabulous and we have had many more riders than we expected. The situation has been complicated by the health emergency, which forced us to overcome obstacles that we did not anticipate.”
Regular passengers will board the trains by swiping a pre-loaded card, paying 35 cents per ride with a discounted fare of 17 cents for those over 65, students and the disabled. There will be the option for $1 single ticket, intended for tourists and infrequent riders as well as a 30-cent fare for those who buy a bundle of tickets. Ormaza said that details about card and ticket purchases will be available next week.
School bus owners protest in Centro
Hundreds of school buses and vans circulated around Parque Calderon on Tuesday, their owners demanding a one-year grace period on loan payments to banks and coops. “The banks are demanding payment and most of us can’t pay,” says van owner Gustavo Iglesias. “We have had no work since March and no income. We are asking the government to negotiate with the banks to delay the obligations. If this doesn’t happen, we go out of business and there is no transportation for students when schools start again.”