Police at Calderon Park have begun issuing tickets to pedestrians violating Ecuador’s new traffic laws. The first citations for those not using marked crosswalks were handed out on Monday at the intersection of Calles Cordero and Bolivar.
The first day of enforcement did not go smoothly, however. Police near the park found themselves spending more time explanting the new law than directing traffic. Those ticketed cited ignorance of the new law and the fact that they were simply doing what they had always done. In response, police pointed to the educational displays in Calerdon Park that explained the new law.
Even some traffic police working intersections a few blocks from Calderon, seemed confused. One officer at Cordero and Cordova said that he was told not to enforce the law because it would penalize tourists.
Despite the confusion, chief of police Galo Cobos said that his office planned to intensify enforcement in high-traffic areas, particularly around Calderon Park, the bus terminal and city markets.
"The purpose is not to punish but to sensitize the population about the dangers of crossing the street illegally. We are trying to reduce the number of traffic accidents," said Cobo. He added: “We will, however, be handing out tickets and enforcing the law.”
CUENCA CALENDAR, 'CULTURAL AGENDA,' IS VICTIM OF HARD TIMES
One of the casualties of the bad economy is Cuenca’s Agenda Cultural, the monthly calendar of events published by the city’s office of cultural affairs. The book is particularly popular with tourists and foreign residents who were accustomed to picking up free copies at the iTur office on Calderon Park and at other locations. Information in the Agenda had also been posted on the municipal website, www.cuenca.com.ec, but this service has also been suspended.
According to a Cuenca city official who asked not to be identified, most of the staff in the culture office has been terminated due to lack of funds. The official says he does not know when the publication of the Agenda will be resumed.
TOMEBAMBA ROTARY CLUB MAKES BLOOD DONATIONS A PRIORITY
Cuenca’s Tomebamba Rotary Club has made blood collection its primary focus for 2009 and 2010. In announcing the initiative, the club signed agreements with the Azuay Red Cross of Azuay, the Cuenca Chamber of Commerce Cuenca and local health care facilities.
Besides working to increase blood donations, the club plans to create a database of technical information to help hospitals and clinics to coordinate donations with patients.
According to Tomebamba Rotary president Claudio Patino, “Our objective is to be able to say, ‘If you need blood, we are here to help, not only by providing blood itself but the technical information to make sure you are getting the safe blood that you require.’”
Photo caption: Police had some explaining to do on the first day of enforcement of Ecuador's new traffic law. Photo credit: El Tiempo