CUENCA DIGESTConstruction at Parque de la Madre begins this month

Mar 10, 2012

Following months of delay, the project to rebuild Parque de la Madre is scheduled to break ground March 19. The work includes construction of a 240-car underground garage, installation of a state-of-the-art asphalt running track and an outdoor concert stage. The $1.2 million project, which officials say will take nine months, also includes extensive re-landscaping.

Heavily used by the public, Parque de la Madre is best known as the training ground for Jefferson Perez, Ecuador´s only Olympic gold medalist. Because of the influence of Perez, the park is used by hundreds of joggers and walkers who say the redesign is badly needed to provide better training facilities.

The city says the garage is necessary to ease a severe parking shortage in the neighbhood which has been exacerbated by traffic around the new court facilities two blocks away. The garage, the largest component of the project, will have an entrance on Av. 12 de Abril and exit on Federico Malo.

The work includes relocating three statues to new locations, including one of Perez and another of the park´s namesake mother. The small city planetarium at the southeast corner of the park will be torn down and rebuilt at the southwest corner, according to the planners.

INDIGENOUS PROTESTERS BEGIN TWO-WEEK MARCH TO QUITO

As indengous protesters began a cross-country march on Thursday, Rafael Correa, rallied supporters in Quito, claiming that the marchers intended to destabilize his government ahead of the 2013 election.

High government spending and robust economic growth have made Correa popular among many of the country´s poor but others complain about high inflation and taxes and say the president's hard-nosed governing style has stifled media freedom.

The marchers, who began the march south of Cuenca and will arrive in Quito on March 22, say their biggest complaint are new mining concessions that the government has granted that, they claim, will pollute water and damage other natural resources. On Monday, the government signed a contract giving the go-ahead for Chinese-owned Ecuacorriente to develop the Mirador copper mine in the southern Oriente.

"We're protesting because the government has implemented neo-liberal policies against the people and against nature. It is taking steps toward the right, like signing a mining deal," said Alejandro Camacho, a 21-year-old university student.

Correa defended his policy of encouraging mining, saying the work will be carried out following strict environmental standards. On the other hand, he said, mining is necessary to fuel economic growth in Ecuador. "We can not be beggars sitting on a sack of gold," he said.

CITY BROTHEL OWNERS AND SEX WORKERS URGED TO REPORT CRIME

Police and city officials are asking those involved in the legalized sex trade to help stem rising crime in the areas around the licensed brothels. Meetings have been held following a recent murder and several violent assaults, mostly on the north side of Cuenca, near Av. Las Americas.

Lenin Bolanos, regional police commander, described the area as one of high risk and announced a series of joint efforts between the municipality, police and health department, which is responsable for testing the sex workers. He also said efforts have been stepped up to crack down on unlicensed sex workers in the area. Arrests have increased in recent weeks, he said.

Marcelo Comina Tayo, who runs the community policing unit near the affected neighborhoods, urged local residents to report suspicions activty to help police respond more quickly. “We need the local people to be our eyes and ears.”
 
PIGEON POISONING IN CITY PARKS IS INVESTIGATED

In what was called a “massacre” by some homeowners, dozens of pigeons turned up dead in city parks, Wednesday and Thursday. City sanitation workers collected most of the victims at San Sabestian Plaza but others were picked up at Santo Domingo, San Blas, and Calderon parks.

Eudoxia Estrella, a resident at San Sebastian and founder and former director of the nearby Modern Art Museum, says she feeds the pigeons who roost at her home and they are her friends. “They hurt no one and live on my roof. Why can´t they be left alone.”

Other residents of the area, who asked not be identified, said that the birds caused structural damage to their homes, spread diseases and needed to be controlled.

Andres Figueroa of Aservet Veterinary Medical Center said that the pigeons had been poisoned with a type of organophosphate, probably put in food or water. He was able to resuscitate several pigeons with injections of antropina sulfate.

Police are investigating.

Photo caption: President Correa rallies supporters against indigenous protests.

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