The government of Peru announced Friday that it will transfer as much as 1,200 megawatts per hour of electricity to Ecuador beginning next week. The transfer is intended to provide relief to Ecuador’s drought-stricken hydro-electric production system. Ecuador’s government last week ordered four-hour rolling black-outs throughout the country because of decreased power production caused by the worst drought in 45 years.
On Monday, Ecuador's Electricity Minister Esteban Albornoz made an emergency trip to Peru to negotiate details of the power purchase. A joint communique released by the two countries states that, "based on this order, in the next days, the interconnections between the electricity companies of northern Peru and the Province of del Oro, Ecuador, will be established, allowing for the transfer of 1,200 megawatts per hour, a supply which addresses in the best way the electricity sector emergency."
The agreement with Peru runs until April 2010, by which time, Ecuador expects to return to normal power production capacity. The Peruvian government said it had enough excess production capacity to provide the additional electricity without affecting the country’s internal needs.
Albornoz said that once power begins to transfer into Ecuador his office will recommend reducing the length of black-outs and consider eliminating them altogether.
NEW NEIGHBORHOOD WATCH SQUADS HELP TO REDUCE CRIME, ORGANIZERS SAY
The president of the Azuay Province organization of neighborhood anti-crime squads says early results indicate a high level of success. According to Abel Buestán, neighborhoods and towns where the volunteer anti-crime groups have been formed have seen reductions by as much as 85%.
Buestán, who is also leader of the safety brigade in Cuenca’s Cayambe neighborhood, one of the city’s highest risk areas, says that the unarmed anti-crime squads are intended to provide assistance to police. “We cannot replace the police, this is not our job. Our mission is to involve local communities in crime prevention, making citizens aware of the power they have to control their own safety.”
The anti-crime squads, under the direction of the National Police, were created in the spring by order of President Rafael Correa as part of his effort to reduce crime nationwide.
In Azuay Province there are 90 neighborhood squads, each with at least 20 volunteers. In Cuenca, there are 45 squads in operation. In total, there are about 2,800 active members across the province.
CULTURE MINISTER PRAISES CITY’S ARTS CLIMATE, PLEDGES MORE SUPPORT
Ecuador’s Minister of Culture pledged increased support for Cuenca’s musicians and artists on Friday. Ramiro Noriega, in town to participate in Cuenca’s Bienal art exhibit, says his office is expanding its work with community arts and cultural organizations.
Noriega praised the high level of cultural activity in Cuenca. "The level of artistic activity and cultural promotion is extremely impressive," he said. “It is one of the reason’s that Cuenca is attracting so much international attention lately.” The Bienal, one of Latin America’s largest art shows, demonstrates that Cuenca has become an international destination for arts lovers, he said.
Noriega said the proposed creation of a national symphony orchestra, aimed at improving the salaries of musicians and providing them with better training opportunities, is a focus of the office of cultural affairs. “We want to make Ecuador’s major symphonies –in Cuenca, Guayaquil, Quito and Loja– truly world-class organizations.” Noriega noted that the recent national tour of the Cuenca Symphony Orchestra that concluded in Santo Domingo was considered a great success by all audiences.