Mayor Marcelo Cabrera expects the city of Cuenca to benefit from improved relations with the new government of Lenin Moreno. During the past three years, Cabrera and other city officials said that working with former President Rafael Correa’s administration was often difficult.
“After hearing President Moreno’s inauguration speech and his comments since then make me believe we will have better relations with the government in Quito,” said Cabrera, who attended the inauguration two weeks ago. “The conciliatory tone of the speech and the message of building bridges between communities gives me a great deal of hope,” he added.
Although Cabrera has reason for optimism, he will have to work with an old nemesis to obtain federal funding for city projects. Ecuador’s new minister of public works is none other than former Cuenca Mayor Paúl Granda, the man Cabrera defeated three years ago. Granda is a member of Correa’s — and Moreno’s — Alianza País, and his defeat in 2014 created tensions between Correa and Cabrera.
Granda flexed his ministerial muscle on Monday by negotiating the resumption of Cuenca-to-Guayaquil flights on government-owned Tame Airlines. Although Cabrera praised Granda’s assistance, the move had clear political overtones.
Tuesday morning call-ins on Cuenca’s Radio Tomebamba speculated that Granda may be positioning himself for another run for mayor. Granda had defeated Cabrera in the 2009 election before Cabrera returned the favor four years later.
According to former Cuenca municipal councilman Jorge Ramos, the cabinet appointment of Granda is good news for Cuenca. “Obviously, he (Granda) has a special interest in Cuenca, no matter what his future ambitions are,” Ramos said. “I have no doubt, for example, that he will work with the city to complete the tranvia since that project began during his term as mayor. It’s good news for the train.”
The bad news for Cabrera, Ramos says, is that Granda opposes Cabrera’s pet project, a freeway encircling Cuneca. “I am almost certain that funding for the highway is not forthcoming,” Ramos adds. “It’s a $600 million project and given the government austerity declaration, the money will not be available. Paúl Granda will make sure of that.”