Cajas highway landslide is blamed for low hotel occupancy; City begins payments on tram judgment; Conaie delays meeting and strike decision

Feb 20, 2023 | 9 comments

The Azuay tourism association is blaming a lower than expected Carnival hotel occupancy rate on a landslide that closed the Cajas highway for most of Saturday. “More than 70% of visitors travel from Guayaquil and many of those we expected for the weekend cancelled their reservations when they heard the highway was closed,” said Patricio Chérrez, president of the Azuay Chamber of Tourism. “The timing of the landslide was very unfortunate since many tourists from Guayas Province are not willing to take the longer route through Cañar Province.”

According to Chérrez, hotel occupancy from Friday through Sunday, was 65%, 20% below expectations.

City tourism officials say that the first three days of the Carnival weekend have seen record turnouts. (El Mercurio)

The news was much better for Cuenca restaurant owners, who reported the best three-day period since the pandemic. “It has been a great holiday for us so far and we expect the high numbers to continue through Tuesday,” said Jorge Samaniego, vice president of the Cuenca Restaurant Association.

Overall, municipal tourism officials say the holiday, through Sunday, has been a “great success.” The turnout for Compadres y Compadres night and Saturday’s parade were the best we have ever seen, even before the pandemic,” tourism officer Juan Carrera said.

City begins payments on tram judgment
Cuenca has made its first payment to tram contractor Cuatro Ríos de Cuenca Consortium (CCRC), part of a $7.9 million legal settlement resulting from the city’s decision to terminate a 2016 contract. Mediators for the International Chamber of Commerce ruled that the city was justified in ending the contract but was not entitled to the $7.9 million bond posted by CCRC when the contract was signed in 2013.

The decision to keep the bond was made by former mayor Marcelo Cabrera and supported by the municipal council when CCRC failed to meet several tram construction deadlines. CCRC had asked for damages due to the contract cancellation but mediators ruled for the city.

Conaie delays meeting and strike decision
The Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities has rescheduled a meeting to discuss calling a strike to demand the resignation of President Guillermo Lasso. The meeting, originally set for Saturday, will be held on February 24.

According to Conaie President Leonidas Iza, the delay comes at the request of members who need more time to make decisions. “The political crisis is extremely complicated and we must coordinate efforts not only with our members but with other actors interested in restoring sanity to our country,” he said. “We all agree that the president must resign.”

In a statement released Saturday, Conaie member Confederation of Peoples of the Kichwa Nationality (Ecuarunari), said all indigenous people are united in the effort to remove Lasso from office. “We cannot continue with the government in the hands of the mafia. In any other country, a president with blood on his face would have resigned long ago,” Ecuarunari said.

If a strike is called, the statement added, it will focus on Quito and probably not involve the entire nation. “This will be a different kind of strike, aimed at the head of government.”

Also on Saturday, members of the National Assembly’s indigenous Pachakutik party cautioned that actions by Conaie should work “hand in hand” with efforts to remove Lasso in the Assembly.

In addition to targeting Lasso, Iza says Conaie plans to protest what he claims is the government’s lack of compliance with agreements following the June 2022 indigenous strike. While the government claims that action has been taken on 80% of the agreements, Iza says only 10% have been met.


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