New rules governing the sale and consumption of alcohol are being developed by a special committee appointed by the Cuenca city council.
According to councilman and committee member Wilson Muñoz, a new ordinance is needed to clean up neighborhoods, combat crime and reduce alcohol-related traffic accidents.
One of those problems, according to the committee, is the number of businesses selling alcohol. The city’s Safety Commission reports that there are more than 7,000 points of sale for alcoholic beverages in Cuenca, including 6,500 tiendas and grocery sotres. Many of these are located in “inappropriate” areas, the committee says.
“Alchohol sales should not be allowed near schools and some other public institutions,” says committee member Juanita Bersosa. “This must be controlled and more restrictions need to be applied.” She added that the committee is considering whether neighborhood tiendas should be allowed to sell alcohol at all.
The committee will also suggest stronger penalties for stores and bars who serve underage drinkers or who operate without permits.
Muñoz adds that a number of city neighborhoods have become party areas on weekends. “We have to control this for the benefit of all our citizens.” The Padre Julio Matovelle neighborhood is one that the committee is targeting for clean-up, as well Av. Remigio Crespo.
The committee says it will present a draft ordinance to the full city council by October or November.
386 Coopera workers are dismissed
The Superintendency of People’s Economic Solidarity (SEPS) informed 386 employees of the bankrupt financial cooperative, Coopera, on Thursday that their jobs were being terminated.
Diego Aguilar, assigned by SEPS to liquídate Coopera, said that he regretted the firings but said they were necessary to make Coopera’s auxillary businesses, including organic food markets and restaurants, attrractive to potential investors.
“We have a little less than 350 employees now, which we believe makes us a viable operation,” he said. Aguilar added that other Coopera workers had been dismissed earlier.
Aguilar said that the terminations were handled legally. A government labor relations representative was present at Thursday’s announcement.
The terminated workers complained about the short notice and said that SEPS had operated in bad faith. “We had a meeting with them two weeks ago and there was no mention about this,” said Lucia Calle. “If we had warning we could have been looking for new jobs.”
The employees also complained about the police presence at the terminations announcement. “This was not necessary. They are treating us like criminals instead of people who have given years of our lives to Coopera,” Calle said.
Av. Solano project on schedule, mayor says
Cuenca mayor Paúl Granda reports that the road and sidewalk reconstruction work on Av. Solano is on schedule for November completion. He says that all work, including landscaping and restoration of monuments and statues, from the Tres Puentes area to Av. 12 de Abril, will be finished by December.
The $4 million project involves rebuilding sidewalks and the redondel at Av. Remigio Crespo, adding bike paths, improving and rerouting utility pipes and cables, adding lighting, as well as upgrading the appearance of one of Cuenca’s major thoroughfares.
“This work is both functional and aesthetic,” Granda says. “When it is complete, Solano will be one of the most attractive streets in town.”
Photo caption: Coopera workers at the San Joaquin headquarters on Thursday.