Crime spikes upward but mostly on the coast; Sangay volcano ashfall alert; Yunguilla highway protest threatened; Assange allowed to marry in prison
The Interior Ministry reports that crime increased in most categories through the first nine months of 2021. Auto theft showed the largest jump, up 55 percent while personal robberies increased 27 percent. Home and business burglaries increased 16 percent while murders were up 14 percent.
According to the ministry, almost 90 percent of the increase was in the coastal region, in Guayas, Manabí , El Oro and Los Ríos, Esmeraldas Provinces. “There have been modest increases in criminal activity in the Sierra region but most of the it is in coastal and littoral provinces, as well as in the Amazonia,” the ministry said in a statement. “Of the murders, almost all of the increase is related to drug gang activity focused in the Guayaquil and Manta area.”
President Guillermo Lasso declared a state of emergency to fight crime in October, claiming it was necessary to combat increased criminal activity by drug gangs. The Constitutional Court reduced the term of the emergency from 60 to 30 days last week and restricted its application to coastal and Amazon provinces that have experienced the largest increases in crime.
Mayor threatens protests for Yunguilla highway repair delays
Santa Isabel Mayor Ernesto Guerrero said Saturday that residents in the Yunguilla Valley are ready to blockade the Cuenca-Machala highway if work to repair the roadway does not begin immediately. In an interview on Radio Tomebamba, the mayor claimed that “promises by the Ministry of Transportation have been broken again and again and we are ready to make our disgust known.”
Guerrero says that subsidence of the roadway as well as general deterioration in several locations make travel on the highway slow and dangerous. “We have been told that the money is available to make the repairs and were promised two weeks ago by [Transportation Minister] Marcelo Cabrera that the equipment was on the way but nothing happened.” Of particular concern, the mayor says, in roadway deterioration in the Rircay and Léntag areas.
“Our residents have suffered numerous accidents and several deaths because of the government’s lack of response to the situation,” Guerrero added.
Assange allowed to marry in prison
Julian Assange will be allowed to marry Stella Moris at the Belmarsh Prison in London, the British prison service announced Friday. The permission reverses an earlier decision denying the request. A wedding date has not yet been announced.
Moris is the mother of two of Assange’s children, conceived while Assange was in asylum at the Ecuadorian embassy in London from 2012 to 2019.
Assange is awaiting a court hearing to determine if he will be extradited to the U.S. on espionage charges for leaks of classified U.S. information through his WikiLeaks internet platform. If the extradition request is denied, Assange will be allowed to go free.
Mining exports jump 136% in 2021
Ecuador’s mining exports increased 136 percent, to $1.2 billion, in the first nine months of 2021 compared the same period of 2020, according to the Ministry of Energy. The ministry said much of the increase is due to the stoppage of work at some mines in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, although it said numbers are up almost 30 percent from pre-pandemic 2019 levels.
Most of the mining exports were gold and silver with China, Switzerland and the U.S. being the top importers. After oil, minerals are the Ecuador’s largest export followed closely by bananas, shrimp and other seafood.
Sangay volcano ashfall alert for Chimborazo, Cañar and Azuay Provinces
Ecuador’s Geophysical Institute warned Friday that ashfall from the Sangay volcano is likely in Chimborazo and Cañar Provinces and possibly in northwest Azuay Province. The institute reported increased activity at the volcano, located in Morona Santiago Province, about 80 miles northeast of Cuenca, and said that winds that typically flow to the west have shifted to the west, southwest.
According to an institute statement, the biggest threat from the ashfall is to agricultural interests.