CUENCA DIGESTCoopera group calls off plan for presidential meeting; Correa says he welcomes a national vote on Yasuní

Aug 17, 2013

A group of investors in the failed Cuenca financial cooperative Coopera have called off Monday’s efforts to meet with President Rafael Correa in Quito. A spokesman for the group said the plan to demand a meeting at the presidential palace would conflict with larger protests against the president’s call for oil production in the Yasuní National Park.
chl coopera
“It is not a good time for us to go since our presence would not be noticed,” said Gustavo Quito. “We will continue to make efforts to meet with the president and to ask him to intervene in our case.”

A hunger strike in Cuenca by Coopera investors was still a possibility, Quito said, adding that details have not been worked out.

Quito represents Coopera investors, including about 200 North Americans, who have not been repaid during the liquidation process. Coopera account holders with less than $30,000 invested –up to $40,000, in some cases — have already been repaid. The government has not clarified the repayment plan for larger accounts and many investors fear they will not be repaid. Coopera accounts were not insured by the government banking system.

Larger Coopera account holders claim that government agencies handling the liquidation did not follow proper procedures in closing the cooperative. They are also challenging the government’s formula for reimbursing account holders.

The government says it was forced to act quickly because of alleged money laundering and embezzlement activities by Coopera management. Three of the cooperatives top officials were arrested in June. The government also claims that Coopera’s financial situation was deteriorating rapidly at the time of the closure.

This week, according to government appointed liquidator Diego Aguilar,
dozens of Coopera creditors will receive payment. At the time Coopera
was closed in June, Aguilar said, many suppliers and contractors had
gone unpaid for two to three months.
Correa open to national vote on Yasuní

President Rafael Correa says he is not afraid of a national referendum on his proposal to open the Yasuní Amazon reserve to oil drilling.

“If they want a national consultation it is fine with me,” Correa said during his weekly television broadcast on Saturday. He was referring to a demand by environmental and indigenous organizations opposed to oil production in the Yansuní. “Collect the required signatures and let’s have a vote,” Correa said. “I put my trust in the people.”

A referendum requires the signatures of 5% of the country’s voters.

On Thursday, Correa said the country should go ahead with plans to extract oil from the preserve following the failure of his plan to collect $3.6 billion from the world’s rich countries in exchange for leaving the oil in the ground.

Correa revised his earlier claim that oil production will affect only 1% of the preserve, saying production would affect only “one thousandth” of a percent. He also said that no roads would be built to the affected area and that all materials and personnel would be delivered by helicopter or the Napo River.

Photo caption: Coopera depositors outside a closed office in Cuenca.

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