Although prices are rising throughout Ecuador, the cost of living for the typical family is the highest in Cuenca. June figures released last week by the National Institute of Statistics and Censuses (INEC) showed that the cost of the Basic Family Basket — food and other household items considered essential — rose to $775.32 a month in Cuenca, an increase of almost $16 over May. The national average for the basket was $751.04 in June.
Nationally, prices rose .65 percent from May to June, with the annual inflation rate standing at 4.23 percent. According to the latest INEC figures, inflation was highest for food and non-alcoholic beverages, followed by transportation, restaurants and hotels.
The June inflation figures included some but not all of the price increases due to the indigenous strike. “The upward pressure caused by the protests varied in different parts of the country, with the biggest increases in the sierra,” said Roberto Castillo, INEC director. “We believe most of the inflation due to shortages will subside by the end of July.
The higher cost of living in Cuenca is a reflection of the city’s relative prosperity, according to Castillo. “Overall, Cuencanos have higher incomes than residents of other areas of the country, which has the effect of driving prices higher. In addition, the money sent home from Ecuadorians living overseas is higher in Cuenca, on a per capita basis, than in other cities.”
Lasso recall effort snubbed by elections council
The National Electoral Council rejected a request for signature forms by a group planning a recall campaign against President Guillermo Lasso. According to CNE President Diana Atamaint, the group did not provide the documentation required to begin a recall campaign.
“The alleged non-compliance with duties of the office must be backed by evidence and those asking for the recall forms did not provide this,” she said. “It is not enough to simply say we don’t like the way the president is running the country. We need the specific reasons why this claim is being made.”
In addition, Atamaint said the group failed to provide the name of its coordinator, which is required for the delivery of signature forms.
Pedro Granja, the attorney for the unnamed recall group, called the CNE’s rejection “a matter of minor technicalities.” He said the recall effort will proceed with “informal” forms.
University of Cuenca complains of Tres de Noviembre crime
University of Cuenca officials met Friday with National Police and Cuenca Citizen Guard capitans to ask for increased patrols on Paseo Tres de Noviembre, in the stretch between El Vado and Puente Roto. “Our students continue to be victimized by crime along the Rio Tomebamba near the university,” said University Rector Maria Hermida. “The area has become popular with drug micro-traffickers and thieves and is not getting the attention it needs from law enforcement.”
Hermida cited a stabbing last week across from the university when a 20-year-old man refused to hand over his cell phone to an attacker. “These assaults have become more frequent in recent months and we need help to stop them.” She added that maintenance has been poor along the river, attracting anti-social activity. “The shrubbery has not been maintained, allowing hiding places for thieves and the benches are in disrepair. In addition, homeless people are living in spaces under the bridges, creating sanitation problems.”
According to Hermida, cell phones, wallets, backpacks, bicycles and cash are the most popular targets for thieves.
Representatives of the Citizen Guard said they would increase patrols of the area, especially at night.
Expat couple fight with police and lose
Two foreign residents are in jail following a Saturday night altercation with police at the Av. Las Americas – Gran Colombia redondel. Described as John Allen G., age 58, and Emily Sara G., age 56, the couple engaged two unnamed police officers in a fist fight following a traffic stop at 11:30 p.m. According to the police report, the fight started after John Allen G. refused to take a sobriety test and was informed he would be taken into custody.
In addition to the officers who made the original stop, two other patrol units were called after the fight began. At one point during the altercation, the couple’s dog escaped from the car attacked one of the officers.
Police say the couple are U.S. citizens from Florida.