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City residents complain about the closure of Parque Calderon for Moreno visit

Saying it reminded them of last month’s political protests, Cuenca residents and guests complained Sunday about the closure of Parque Calderon to pedestrian and vehicular traffic.

Residents complained about the closure of Parque Calderon for the visit of President Lenin Moreno. (El Tiempo)

“This is Cuenca’s independence holiday and Calderon is our most famous place,” said Enrique Castro. “This is terrible planning that they close it when it is where our independence began. I understand the president has to be protected but there are other ways to do it beside blocking the central plaza.”

The police who erected and maintained the road blocks at eight intersections, said the action was taken due to lingering tensions from last month’s strike by transport workers and indigenous groups. “Anger remains following those events and we are taking care to protect the presidential visit,” a National Police commander said.

Moreno attended ceremonies at the cathedral and the municipal government building on Sunday to commemorate Cuenca’s independence. Both buildings are located on the park.

During the park closure, police escorted several people out of the park although they allowed others who live nearby to remain. Those who planned to attend mass at the cathedral were told at the barricades that the church was closed.

Regional director of the Ombudsman’s office, Verónica Aguirre, was one of those criticizing the park closure. “Santa Ana de los Cuatro Rios closed to the people on independence holiday? I don’t believe it,” she Tweeted. She said she intends to file a complaint with Ecuador’s Constitutional Court.

Cuenca Mayor Pedro Palacios also criticized the barricades but said the decision was made by the federal government whose authority supersedes that of the city.