Cajas highway closes for 40 days; First humanitarian flight heads to Quito; Cuencanos celebrate Ash Wednesday; New Cuenca voting zones established
Hola, Todos –
689 ecuatorianos a salvo (689 Ecuadorians safe) – Based on an official report from noon ayer, 689 Ecuadorians succeeded in crossing the border of Ukraine. They are all in good health and staying in hotels, shelters, and with families. 504 are in Poland, 86 in Hungary, 47 in Slovakia, 17 in Moldova, 14 in Romania, and 21 in other countries. Statistics from the Cancillería show that 204 are still in the Ukraine. Ministro de Relaciones Exteriores, Juan Carlos Holguín, said the first humanitarian flight, an Airbus A330, was chartered by the government will take off today and fly first to Budapest and then to Warsaw, and back to Quito. He hopes there will be no last minute changes and expects the flight to arrive between 8:50 and 9:15 el noche de jueves, 3/3 with 350 Ecuadorians on board.
Another 20 will leave from Romania and arrive on a flight from México el viernes, 4/3. Currently he is worried about students who are staying or have asked to fly with a pet, and is asking that they return on a humanitarian flight since it is illegal to stay in a third country without the proper documents. Luis Narváez, the Ecuadorian consul in the Ukraine, said of the 700 Ecuadorians in the country, about 10% have said they are not leaving for different reasons; some because their lives are there, and some sudents because they are close to finishing their studies and do not want to lose all those years of schooling.
Artistas dinamizaron el turismo en los cantones (Artists stimulated tourism in the cantons) – Families returned to their home cities after the Carnaval holidays. Distinations with sun and the beach were preferred during this part of the year. Azuay also hosted national tourists, especially from Guayaquil. Up to el pasado viernes, hotel occupancy in Cuenca was at 25%, but that increased over the weekend in spite of the problems with the roads. During the holiday, the cantons around Cuenca scheduled un sinnúmero (a countless or myriad – your word for the day) number of events. Because of lack of hotel rooms in the cantons, tourists stayed in Cuenca even though the city had not scheduled many events. <All the effort went into getting a new logo for the city?>
Miércoles de Ceniza para los fieles católicos (Ash Wednesday for the Catholic faithful) – The Catholic Church celebrated Ash Wednesday today. There were 6 masses during the day with each church maintaining its own schedule. The Arquidiócesis de Cuenca said that a capacity of 75% would be observed. Pope Francisco issued an invitation to live Ash Wednesday in prayer and fasting for peace in the Ukraine. <Well, I already blew the fasting part, but it’s not too late to add a prayer or two.>
Dos nuevas zonas electorales para Cuenca (Two new electoral zones for Cuenca) – <This is your civics lesson for the day.> The full body of the Consejo Nacional Electoral (CNE) approved the creation of 2 new electoral zones for the elecciones seccionales (midterm elections) on 5/2/2023. Voters select mayors, prefects and viceprefects, council representatives, members of the parish juntas, and the members of he Consejo de Participación Ciudadana y Control Social (CPCCS). There are two new zones in Cuenca: Quinta Chica in the Machángara Parish, and San Pedro de Cebollar in San Sebastián Parish. Both are urban parishes. The other new zones outside of Cuenca are Paquisha in the rural parish of Sangay in Palora, Morona Santiago; La Yona in Chicanan in Yanzatza, Zamora Chinchipe; and another 6 in the cantons of Sucre, Puerto Lopez y Santa Ana, Manabí.
For Tatiana Coronel, and attorney and researcher in election processes, making new electoral zones is fundamental for reducing absenteeism. It makes it easier for citizens to vote without traveling to other locations. This promotes democracy by adding more facilities where the population can exercise their right to vote. <Contrast that to jurisdictions in the US that are busy reducing voting places — but only for some people. Is that Russian style democracy coming to America — and without one shot fired?> The requirements for a new voting zone is that the village or area is located at least 10 km. from the parish or cantonal center. There should have been at least 150 pre-changes of electoral domicile, and the sector has a school, church, communal house or public facility that can serve as a polling place.
Milton Alvarado, a member of the Voto Responsable initiative in Azuay, said that for this election, there is a plan to make the judicial or court status of candidates more transparent. The goal is to let citizens know if candidates have problems with the law, if they have acted outside the law, or have a criminal history. All the information will be from public records and not invade a candidate’s privacy. The initiative is also planning a survey with questions about general culture. geography, legislation and public administration.
Capacitación (Training) – Teodoro Maldonado, director of the CNE in Azuay, said that there will be training for election officials prior to the 2023 elections. The training is divided into different modules to discuss the organization of the elections step by step. There will be analyses of the legal framework, codes of ethics, election laws and regulations, and the reforms to the Ley Orgánica Electoral y de Organizaciones Políticas.
El 6% de descuento en prediales (6% discount on property taxes) – Property owners who pay their property taxes during the first 15 days of marzo will get a 6% discount. If you pay during the 2nd half of the month, you get a 5% discount. The city has 80 locations where you can pay including the municipal treasurer’s office, City Hall, the airport, parque de La Libertad, the Registro de la Propiedad de Cuenca, the Mall del Río, EMOV, at cooperatives and banks, at Facilito and Western Union, and on line. The city is expecting to collect at least $7 million of the $12 million planned in 2022. Last year, in 2021, it collected $6,824,000 of the $12 million planned. The 2022 city budget is $265,855,177, an 18% increase over 2021. The budget includes $115,000,000 for projects, 11% for current expenses, 12% for financing, and 4% for capital expenditures.
Vía por Molleturo se cierra hoy por 40 días (Road through Molleturo closed today for 40 days) – The vía Cuenca-Molleturo-El Empalme will be closed for 40 days due to work to stabilize a macro-slide at km. 49. The contractor will remove rocky material from the top of the slope which is unstable and represents a danger to drivers. Once the material is removed, work can start on crowning ditches, a dynamic barrier and other interventions. The $8 million project will last 8 months. The alternative route between Cuenca and Guayaquil is the vía Cuenca-Azogues-Biblián-Zhud-Cochancay-La Troncal-El Triunfo. The gravel road Miguir-Río Blanco-Cochapamba-Yumate serves the residents of Molleturo. MTOP is making safety improvements to the Miguir road. Sudamericana Integral de Construcciones (Sudinco), the road contractor, and MTOP and the population of Molleturo attended to various slides that occured during the Carnaval holiday. 1 and half lanes at km. 66 which had a large slide el último sábado, were cleared Monday afternoon. A large rock fell onto km. 58 Monday night. Machinery was sent to the site to try clear the obstacle. <No picture shown, but usually a large rock means something between the size of a VW bug and a VW van.> There were smaller slides due to the rains at kilometers 48, 49, 50, 52, 53, 55, & 60. Machinery was deployed to clean those up. <The flip side of having beautiful mountain views every where you look.>
And that’s all for today so Hasta ? –
Editor’s note: Jeanne’s Periodico is a translated digest of news from the Cuenca daily newspaper El Mercurio. If details, such as event dates and times, do not appear in the translation, they did not appear in the newspaper (please don’t ask her for them). The text between the carrots, or guillemets (< … >), is Jeanne’s personal opinion and not part of the news translation.