Cuenca court officers challenge councilman to prove claim of widespread judicial corruption

Mar 13, 2024 | 0 comments

The president of the Azuay Provincial Court of Justice is demanding that Cuenca municipal councilman Gustavo Valencia prove his claim that a “culture of corruption” exits in local courts.

The Azuay Provincial Court of Justice on Parque Calderon.

Valencia lodged his charges in a series of social media posts over the weekend. “We have judges here in Cuenca who are available à la carte; they will give you a price for their service. This is the truth and everybody knows it.”

He added: “There is thinking that the judicial corruption is only on the coast or in Quito but this is incorrect.”

Valencia’s claim follow recent arrests of judges and judicial officials in Guayaquil, Manta and Esmeraldas. In total, 14 judges have been arrested for taking bribes from criminal organizations, mostly in exchange for giving favorable rulings for drug gang members. According to the Attorney General, more arrests can be expected.

“If he has evidence of illegality on the part of judges, we ask him to present it,” says Elena Vázquez, Azuay Court president. “It is unfair to say that this is widespread without offering proof. It is potentially slanderous to spread unsubstantiated rumors. Generalizations like he has made are dangerous.”

Vázquez urged Valencia to present his evidence to prosecutors immediately so an investigation, if it is warranted, can begin. “This is the proper channel for making complaints of illegal activity, and it should be followed.”

Several other court officers and judges supported Vázquez’s demand.

In his posts, Valencia said that most of the corruption in local courts is unrelated to drug gang activity. “No, we don’t have much of that in Cuenca but we have a culture that allows payoffs for favorable rulings and this has existed for years,” he said. “The extent of corruption has increased recently in response to what’s occurring in Guayaquil and elsewhere. The judges see how easy it is to make extra money and want part of the action.”

In one post, Valencia said that recent arrests have put all judges on notice that they may be caught and go to prison. “I assume the corrupt judges in Cuenca are paying attention but just because they are not involved with the narcos they should not assume they have impunity.”

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