Correista candidate calls qualification delay an ‘attack on democracy’; Officials warn of ‘silent’ Covid spread; Public masturbater arrested at tram stop
Union for Hope presidential candidate Andrés Arauz is denouncing the continued delay by the National Electoral Council (CNE) to certify his candidacy as a plot by President Lenin Moreno to keep him off the February 2021 ballot. “This is an outrageous attempt by Moreno and the forces of the political right to deny the people the opportunity to choose in the election,” he said at a Friday news conference. “They know we will win if we’re allowed to run and they are scared to death.”
Arauz, hand-picked by former president Rafael Correa to head the Union of Hope ticket, called on “national and international voices” to demand that his party be certified. He said he will file complaints with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the United Nations Human Rights Office.
On Thursday, the CNE again delayed a final decision on Arauz’s and running mate Carlos Rabascall’s status in the election. The delay is the result of a complaint filed by two political parties claiming that Union for Hope violated election qualification rules when they named Correa as vice presidential candidate and then withdrew it in favor of Rabascall. Due to his status as a convicted felon, Correa was ruled ineligible to run.
Arauz says the change of candidacy was a minor, procedural issue being used to block the Union for Hope ticket. According to three recent polls, Arauz is running a strong second to presidential front-runner Guillermo Lasso. “The effort to deny us is a case of election fraud, pure and simple,” Arauz said. “I call on all Ecuadorians to denounce this treachery and stop the coup.”
Health officials worry about ‘silent’ Covid transmission
The Ministry of Public Health is warning of growing evidence of “silent transmission” of the Covid-19 virus as the public resumes public activities without social distancing. “Because we have seen lower rates of hospitalization and fewer deaths, many people assume that the worst is over but this is not the case,” a ministry spokeswoman said Thursday. “There is a delay of 10 days to two weeks before we see the results of a breakdown of social distancing. We are witnessing the result of this in the United States and Europe and we remind Ecuadorians that continued vigilance is crucial.”
The health ministry reports that the number of new infections is rising again in the Galapagos, Pichincha, Santa Elena, Azuay and Cañar Provinces. “We are fortunate so far that hospitalizations are down and that we have more capacity to accommodate severe cases and we pray this situation continues,” the spokeswoman said.
Local health authorities report that intensive care beds are at 70 percent capacity in Quito and at 45 percent capacity in Cuenca.
Public masturbater arrested at tram station
The Cuenca Citizen Guard arrested a naked man Friday night they said was engaged in the “immoral act of masturbation” at the tram platform at Av. Las Américas and Primero de Mayo. The man was ordered to put on pants provided by the Guard and then turned over to the National Police for processing. As he was taken away, the unidentified man reportedly told bystanders he intended to file a human rights complaint against police on the grounds of coitus interruptus.
Sangay volcano shows increased activity
Activity at the Sangay volcano has intensified, according to the Ecuador Geophysical Institute. “New lava flows have been observed on the flanks of the mountain and the gas and ash cloud above the crater has reached heights of 2,000 meters,” the institute reported Friday, adding that the ash cloud is currently drifting to the east, toward the Amazon.
“We are monitoring weather patterns and believe winds could shift to the north and northwest on Saturday, potentially endangering agricultural regions in Chimborazo Province.”
Sangay, located about 70 miles northeast of Cuenca, has been in a state of eruption since 1999 and is considered one of the most dangerous volcanoes in Ecuador.