Conaie unhappy with negotiation progress; Covid cases stabilize, new vaccine push planned; Quito is battered by strong storms; The iguanas return
Ecuador’s indigenous movement complained Tuesday that negotiations with the government are moving too slowly to accomplish the objectives laid out following the 18-day national strike in June. “If we continue at this rate, we are not going to conclude in the 90 days agreed to by both sides,” Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities (Conaie) President Leonidas Iza warned. “We are evaluating our position and may demand modification to the dialog process in the coming days.”
Iza said that many of Conaie’s 10 proposals have yet to be addressed and that those that have have not reached “satisfactory” results.
He said “some progress” has been made to target fuel subsidies to those who need them and to provide debt relief to the indigenous and poor populations. “We need to conclude these discussions and move on to other topics,” he said. “We need to see more advancement in all areas and we need to see it soon.”
Government Francisco Jiménez agreed some discussion were “dragging” but said it was because they involve technical details that require more time to resolve. “Both sides continue to exchange information on our positions and this does not always move quickly,” he said. “However, we continue to maintain the expectation that we can reach more agreements by the end of the week and conclude the entire process within 90 days.”
Covid cases stabilize, new vaccine push planned
Ecuador’s Ministry of Health reported Tuesday that the number of new Covid-19 cases has dropped slightly since last week. “The Covid-19 situation has stabilized in recent days as the speed of the contagion decreases,” Health Minister José Ruales said. “All cases are of the BA.4 and BA.5 sublineages of the omicron variant.”
Ruales added that more than 95 percent of those hospitalized are over the age of 80 or have complicating health conditions. “All deaths from Covid reported last week fell into these two categories,” he said. “Overall, the number of hospitalizations is holding steady or dropping in most of the country.”
In his news conference, Ruales said that the government is planning a new vaccine campaign. “Our vaccination numbers are good but we would like to do even better, particularly for people with health vulnerabilities.”
Currently, 88% of the population has received one dose of the vaccine while 85% have received two, he said. “We are focusing on increasing the number of boosters administered and will be publicizing the program in coming weeks. It is our goal to reach 10 million people with boosters by the end of the year.”
Iguanas return to Santiago Island
After nearly two centuries, Galapagos land iguanas are once again hatching on Santiago Island, the fourth largest island in Ecuador’s Galapagos archipelago, Minister of Environment, Water and Ecological Transition Gustavo Manrique said Monday.
“Good news! Almost two centuries later, land iguanas are born again on Santiago Island,” Manrique wrote on his official Twitter account. “The last record of a healthy population was made by (Charles) Darwin in 1835. We are enthusiastically witnessing the ecological restoration of an island that was greatly affected in the past.”
In the 19th century Darwin reported on the abundant presence of large reptiles on the island, which is home to a great variety of wildlife within its 585 square km.
Quito battered by strong storms
For the fourth consecutive day, parts of Quito have experienced torrential downpours, clogging drains and damaging property. On Tuesday, a hailstorm created chaos in neighborhoods of southern Quito, collapsing roofs, flooding streets and patios.
Citizens reported that ice produced by the storm sometimes reached a depth of eight centimeters in some areas. “Overflowing drains and sewers are the largest problem with the hail, since it hardens and restricts the flow of water from streets, roofs and other surfaces,” a municipal works spokesman said. “We have received many reports of water damage to homes and businesses as a result of this.”