Company pulls plug on Echo Olón project; High UV warning issued; Eight die in coastal shooting; Ex-president’s son is put under house arrest

May 13, 2024 | 0 comments

The company behind the controversial Echo Olón residential project in Santa Elena Province announced Saturday it is suspending construction for the foreseeable future. Vinazin S.A, partly owned by President Daniel Noboa’s wife Lavinia Valbonesi, claimed the project has been “misrepresented for political purposes” and given the “chaotic situation” it has decided to end construction.

Vinazin said it regretted it would not be able to offer jobs to the Olón community. “Unfortunately, we will not be able to provide the 2,783 jobs we had promised due misinformation and defamation orchestrated by political interests,” the company said in a statement.

Jacobo Bucaram Pulley, son of former president Abdalá Bucaram, was arrested at a gang leader’s birthday party last week and has been placed under house arrest.

Controversy surfaced early last week about the project when the La Iguana Foundation mounted a protest at the 6,500 square-meter construction site, claiming it had committed “ecocide” by cutting down 21 carob trees. La Iguana said the project was in a protected area in which tree removal is forbidden. It also claimed that local residents were not consulted about development plans.

Vinazin responded that the project was outside the environmental protection zone and that no consultation with residents was required.

Based on its published plans, Echo Olón would have included 42 condominium units in three mid-rise buildings on the beachfront site.

Weather agency issues high UV warning
The National Meteorology Institute is warning residents of the Ecuadorian sierra to take precautions against dangerously high levels of ultraviolet radiation on Monday. In a statement published on its X account, the institute said the highest levels of radiation will occur between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.

“We expect the most dangerous levels of UV radiation of the year in the intermountain valley, with the cities of Quito, Cuenca, Ibarra, Riobamba, and Ambato at special risk,” the institute said. It recommended that residents of the affected area to avoid extended sun exposure if possible and to wear long-sleeved clothing, hats and to apply sunscreen.

Eight die in Santa Elena shooting
A mass shooting during a birthday party at a Santa Elena Province bar early Saturday left eight people dead, in what police believe was a gang-related attack. The gunmen arrived in a taxi and two motorcycles, according to witnesses. The bar is in the town of Chanduy, 85 kilometers west of Guayaquil.

Police said it is unclear whether the attack was aimed at the man celebrating his birthday or others who were attending the party. Three of the dead were from the same family while other victims were partygoers and bar employees.

House arrest ordered for ex-president’s son
A judge has ordered house arrest for Jacobo Bucaram Pulley, the son of former president Abdalá Bucaram. Jacobo Bucaram was one of 34 people arrested Thursday in a police raid of a party on the Vía a la Costa in which firearms and drugs were found.

The party was organized to celebrate the birthday Celso Moreira, alias ‘Feder’, leader of the drug trafficking Los Águilas gang.

At the time of his arrest, Jacobo Bucaram was not wearing an electronic shackle he had been ordered to wear following a previous arrest for organized crime in 2021. In the house arrest order, the judge said the defendant may face additional charges for removing the shackle.

Netanyahu fires back at Colombia president
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded Saturday to Colombian President Gustavo Petro after the South American leader called for his arrest over the war in Gaza. “Israel will not be lectured by an antisemitic supporter of Hamas,” Netanyahu wrote in a post on X.

Earlier this month, Petro said Colombia would cut diplomatic ties with Israel for having “a genocidal president.” On Friday, he wrote, “Netanyahu won’t stop the genocide, which implies an arrest order by the International Criminal Court.”

In his X post, Netanyahu said that Petro’s position is not necessarily supported by the Colombian people. “How can someone with 23% popularity represent the citizens of his country?” the Israeli prime minister asked.

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