Negotiators from the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities and the government have settled on the topics to be considered when formal talks begin July 13. As part of the settlement to end the 18-day Conaie strike last week, both sides agreed to hold 90 days of negotiations to resolve their differences.
Among the topics to be discussed are targeted fuel subsidies; private debt relief from public and private banks; expansion of productive development projects; employment and labor rights; energy and natural resources; collective rights; funding for higher education; protection of national investments; market controls; funding for public health; and law enforcement.
Under the agreement reached at the end of the strike, talks will be moderated by the Ecuadorian Catholic Episcopal Conference. Government Minister Francisco Jiménez, assisted by other cabinet officers, will be the chief negotiator for the government while Conaie will have a five-member team, led by Conaie President Leonidas Iza.
According to David de la Torre, secretary of the Episcopal Conference, the church’s role will be to monitor and manage the talks. “We have pledged to be a neutral party but it is our intention to keep the discussions on the topics agreed to, maintain order and to generally facilitate the process,” he said. “Like all Ecuadorians, the church and members of the conference have an interest in resolving this dispute in a way that benefits all the people of the country.”
De la Torre added that preliminary talks to establish ground rules have been cordial and constructive. “We all understand the importance of the challenge we face and are taking it very seriously.”
COE upgrades its masking directive from ‘optional’ to ‘recommended’
The National Emergency Operations Committee is once again recommending that residents wear face masks when social distancing cannot be maintained. According to COE President Juan Zapata, the recommendation for masking is due to an increase of positive Covid-19 tests and confirmed infections since April.
The COE’s previous position on masking was that it was optional in both outside and inside spaces. “Because of the situation with hospitalizations and deaths, which have not increased, we are not issuing a new mandate,” Zapata said. “Our message is that care should be exercised as the result of the increase in cases and positive tests. We remain under pandemic conditions, both worldwide and in Ecuador.”
Vice President Alfredo Borrero, a physician, attended Thursday’s COE meeting and said the new recommendation is precautionary. “From a medical standpoint, we are doing very well. We are not seeing an increase of serious Covid-19 cases in our health facilities and we believe the overall situation regarding the epidemic continues to improve.”
He said that positive PCR tests reached 32 percent nationally last week but said the number of tests given is very low, making it difficult to determine a trend.
Zapata said that masking will continue to be mandatory in hospitals and health centers and for people who are experiencing respiratory problems such as a cough or sore throat.
Eight people are isolated due to monkeypox exposure
Eight Guayaquil residents have been put in medical isolation as a result of their exposure to Ecuador’s first confirmed case of monkeypox. A 30-year-old man from Guayaquil was diagnosed with the disease on Wednesday.
“Isolating those who have been exposed is strictly precautionary since none of the eight are exhibiting symptoms,” the Health Ministry said in a statement Thursday. “Monkeypox is rarely a life-threatening condition but because there is not an effective treatment we have decided to isolate those who have been exposed from the general public.”
The statement said the patient, who recently traveled to the U.S., was exhibiting typical symptoms of the disease, including a low fever, vesicles and skin irritation.
Canadian killed in Chimborazo avalanche
A 25-year-old Canadian woman died Thursday as a result of an avalanche on Mount Chimborazo. The victim’s companion, also Canadian, was injured and is being treated in a Riobamba hospital.
A team of mountain climbers preparing for an ascent lower on the mountain, witnessed the avalanche at about 8:30 a.m. and called emergency responders from the Riobamba Fire Department and Special Operations Group.
According to the Ecuadorian Association of Mountain Guides, the two Canadians were “ascending the mountain between the Veintimilla and Whymper summits” when a large section of snow and ice broke free, burying them.