President of the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (Conaie) Leonidas Iza called President Guillermo Lasso response to his recent demands “arrogant and insulting” and warned that Lasso should be prepared for an “uprising of the people.”
At a Wednesday press conference, Iza gave Lasso an August 10 deadline to reimpose fuel subsidies, tighten restrictions on mining and to provide relief to debtors. He said the demands were “non-negotiable.”
Lasso responded Thursday that he would not bow labor and indigenous threats, and that his job was to serve the interests of all Ecuadorians, particularly the most vulnerable. “I am not impressive by those who dress up as poor people but are, in fact, successful capitalists,” he said. Answering the demand that the country return to fuel subsidies, he said the interests of the people will be better served by applying targeted subsidies for public transportation services.
In a written response Friday, Iza said: “The government responds with arrogance and insults and closes all dialogue options to solve Ecuador’s economic problems. The president shows us clearly that his interests are only in representing the interests of the elites, ignoring the problems of the majority.” He added: “We will not allow the government to operate from a bubble of power.”
In local visit, Lasso announces major highway projects
Claiming that Ecuador’s economic recovery depends on improving transportation infrastructure, President Guillermo Lasso announced major Cuenca-area highway projects Friday. Work has already begun, he said, on six- and four-laning highway E35 from Biblián to Zhud. E35 is the country’s major north-south route, connecting Loja, Cuenca, Riobamba and Quito. According to Transportation Minister Marcelo Cabrera, the project is part of the plan to provide a limited-access highway system connecting all of Ecuador’s major cities.
Lasso said he is intervening to expedite the Biblián-Zhud work, which has been planned but not funded for seven years. At a ceremony in Biblián, 30 kilometers north of Cuenca, Lasso said that the $24.6 million in funding for the project will come from the Latin American Development Bank.
In addition to Biblián-Zhud, other local road projects include improvements of the Cumbe-Girón-Pasaje and El Descanso-Puente Europa-Gualaceo-Paute highways as well as to the Zhud-La Troncal-Puerto Inca highways. In all Cabrera says projects provide 192 kilometers of repaving and road-widening.
Most Ecuador seniors are fully vaccinated
According to the Ministry of Health, 73.7 percent of Ecuador’s population over the age of 65 has received both doses of the Covid-19 vaccines. About 15 percent of the remaining seniors have received one dose. “We are pleased with the progress so far with the elderly and the vulnerable and are now increasing our effort to reach the unvaccinated and those who are eligible for the second shot,” says Health Minister Ximena Garzón.
In Azuay Province, 78.2 percent of those over 65 are fully vaccinated.
Garzón said that demand for vaccines continues at a high rate, mostly the result of fear of the new Covid-19 delta variant. “This got the attention of many people who are were putting off the decision to get vaccinated,” She added: “We were particularly proud that for three days during the last week of July, we were giving more injections per day than the U.S., which has 20 times the population of Ecuador.”
The Cuenca gas song
Ever wondered who’s responsible for the God-awful caterwauling that announces Cuenca’s LP gas trucks? Here’s an outtake from the recording session of the not-quite-ready-for-MTV gas song. A translation of the refrain goes something like this: “If you’re cylinder is out of gas, don’t worry, more gas has arrived.”
Hospital ICU waiting list shortens
The waiting list for ICU units at the José Carrasco Arteaga IESS and the Vicente Moscoso Corral Public Hospitals is declining, according administrators. About half of the critical beds are occupied by Covid-19 patents, which is also a decline from previous weeks. “This is good news for everyone and an indication that we are slowly overcoming the virus,” says Azuay Province Governor Esteban Bernal. He adds that most of the Covid patients being treated at the two public hospitals are from outside of Azuay Province. He urged citizens to continue to follow biosafety protocols, including social distancing and masking.