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Calle Larga bar scene is getting out of hand, city officials say; unlicensed businesses to be shut down

Calle Large is getting overloaded with bars and night clubs, according to Cuenca officials, and the government intends to do something about it. Many of the establishments in the area lack proper permits, officials say, and efforts are underway to shut down those operating illegally.

According to municipal spokesperson Juan Estaban, Calle Larga and the Barranco district have become increasingly popular with businesses in recent years, particularly with bars and restaurants. “Five years ago this area was considered dangerous but it’s been cleaned up and is much safer today,” according to Estaban.

Now, says Estaban, the crush of car and pedestrian traffic is threatening to reserse the trend. “The problem is that the improvement has attracted many businesses, especially bars that are not fully licensed.”

From Wednesday through Saturday nights, after 9 p.m., Calle Larga and other nearby streets are in a state of traffic gridlock, says Estaban, and the situation is getting worse. “We are not worried about businesses that are operating with the proper paperwork, but those that aren’t are contributing to a bad situation that is getting worse."

Within weeks, Cuenca Director of Urban Control Barzallo Paul will begin issuing orders closing businesses that violate city licensing laws, according to Estaban. “Sanitation, fire and general public safety concerns require us to act quickly.”

Photo caption: At midday, traffic on Calle Larga is often light. When bars and nightclubs open at night, the street and sidewalks are usually packed.