City logo fight intensifies; Chinese pharmaceutical plans Ecuador production facility; Hundreds cross Peruvian border; Work at hydro plant suspended
Cuenca Mayor Pedro Palacios defended his decision to change the city logo over the weekend, claiming that the graphic artist who designed the artwork “did not charge a penny for his efforts.” He also said that the signage erected in several locations in the historic district, displaying the new logo, replaced signs that were damaged and outdated.
Three city councilmen have attacked the logo change and the money spent for new signs. They claim the new logo and typography are an advertisement for Palacios and his political party, New Generation, and that it did not receive approval from the city’s historical committee. They also say the new logo is “unsophisticated and harmful to the city image”
Municipal Councilman and president of the Control Commission, Alfredo Aguilar, says that Palacios claim that the new image was free to the city is untrue. “The signs were paid for by city funds from the promotional budget,” he says. “Not only is it a lie that this did not cost anything, there was a serious violation the public process when the mayor decided to make the change without talking to the municipal council and historic areas committee. Changes such as these should be submitted to the proper authorities before they are instituted.”
Aguilar says he sent a letter to the director of Historical and Heritage Areas Committee asking for its opinion on the new signage. “I understand they were not notified and believe there is a clear violation of procedure in this case and I am asking for a complete investigation.”
Chinese pharmaceutical company to build Ecuador facility
The Chinese pharmaceutical company Sinovac will build a laboratory and production facility in Ecuador, the company and Health Ministry announced Friday. Sinovac Operations Manager for Latin America, Jack Tang, said the plant will be operational by 2032.
Ximena Garzón said the new facility will put Ecuador at the forefront of medical development in South America. “This is a significant step forward in the country’s improvement in health care,” she said. She added that the project is unrelated to the manufacture of Covid-19 vaccines. “There is some misunderstanding about this since we are currently in the midst of the pandemic. This is unrelated to Covid-19. The project will produce a wide range of medicines, including vaccines for a variety of illnesses, and our expectation is that the pandemic will well behind us when Sinovac begins operations.”
During the announcement, Tang said he is working with the Health Ministry on a number of technical issues that must be resolved before construction begins. He also said the location of the facility is yet to be decided.
Hundreds cross Peru border
More than 900 Ecuadorians and Peruvians crossed the border at the Huaquillas- Aguas Verdes crossing on Friday and Saturday, immigration officials say. The border had been closed since March 2020 when Covid-19 pandemic restrictions were imposed.
According to those making the crossing, the passage took only a few minutes, many of them meeting friends on the opposite site of the border. They report that masking and social distancing rules were not enforced, although border agents checked cedulas and vaccine cards.
Soldados Yanuncay Hydroelectric plant work suspended
On-going road blockades and vandalism of equipment have forced the temporary suspension of work on Soldados Yanuncay Hydroelectric Project, west of Cuenca. Antonio Borrero, manager of the Empresa Electric, said he hopes to resume work within a matter of days following talks with local residents who oppose the project.
“We hope to resolve our differences with residents through dialog and find solutions that both sides agree on,” he said. “On the other hand, we cannot tolerate lawlessness and those who have committed criminal acts will be prosecuted. If such acts continue, I will request that military troops be assigned to protect workers and equipment.”
In January, a cement truck was stopped on the road to the project and set on fire, causing several thousand dollars of damage. In addition, a tractor was vandalized at the work site, requiring replacement of its fuel system.
19% say they have been infected with Covid; only 5% oppose vaccines
In a survey of 27,048 Ecuadorian households, 3.5 million, or 19.4 percent, of the population report that they had been infected by the Covid-19 virus. Conducted by the National Institute of Statistics and Censuses in Quito, Guayaquil, Cuenca, Machala and Ambato, the survey also showed that only 5.1 percent of respondents opposed vaccination.
INEC Director Roberto Castillo acknowledged that the percentage of those infected is probably higher since the survey concluded in mid-January when the Covid Omicorn variant was still circulating at a high rate. “Only a small percentage of Ecuadorians have been tested so the survey provides a broader gauge of infection,” he said. “Since the data is based on personal experiences, it probably does not indicate most mild or non-symptomatic cases.” The Ministry of Health estimates that about 50 percent of Ecuadorians have been infected with Covid.
Castillo said he was encouraged by the high acceptance rate of vaccination. “It is assuring to see we are not suffering the same rate of opposition and hesitancy as some other countries. Obviously, Ecuadorians have educated themselves on this matter.”