Tourism officials estimated that Cuenca’s independence holidays drew more than 75,000 tourists and credit the exceptionally large turnouts at craft and food fairs and concerts to good weather. Saturday was another picture-perfect day with the official temperature reaching 78 degrees Fahrenheit, the highest of the year.
According to officials, nearly all city hotel rooms were booked and flights in and out of the city were full.
President Rafael Correa arrived in town Friday afternoon and met with government officials and helped dedicate the Tres de Noviembre Barranco reconstruction project. He also turned over a check for Cuenca’s new light rail system. On Saturday, he attended mass and laid a wreath at the statue of Abdón Calderon, Cuenca’s independence war hero, in Calderon Park, and attended a military parade on Av. Salono.
Other federal officials, including Heritage Minister Maria Fernanda Espinosa, were in town as well. Espinosa reconfirmed government support for several Cuenca projects aimed at preserving its heritage and historic district.
According to the official agenda, the festivities included 15 crafts shows, nine food fairs, 25 concerts, nine fireworks displays and six parades between Nov. 1 and Nov. 4.
PRESIDENT RECONFIRMS SUPPORT FOR NATIONAL UNIVERSITY IN AZOGUES
President Rafael Correa reconfirmed on Friday the government’s commitment to build the first Ecuadorian national university in Azogues, 18 miles north of Cuenca. The president recorded his weekly television program in the city.
“When it’s completed, this university will be one of the best in Latin America. This is an essential part of our plan to improve our educational system and eventually to improve the lives of all Ecuadorians.”
Correa said that the first project at the university will be to build a teacher’s training campus.
Correa also said that the university will help strengthen the identity of Azogues, a city of 80,000 that is increasingly seen as a bedroom community for Cuenca, despite the fact that it is the capital of Cañar Province.
ECUADORIAN CHOCOLATE AGAIN VOTED THE BEST IN THE WORLD
Ecuador chocolate has again been awarded top honors at an international competition comparing products from the world’s chocolate producing countries.
Pacari Chocolate, an Ecuadorian company, won 10 gold and silver medals in the category of organic chocolates, competing with 100 companies from Latin America, Africa and Asia at the International Chocolate Awards in London.
Last year, raw Ecuadorian cacao was named best in the world at the International Cocoa Awards event sponsored by the Salon du Chocolat Paris.
Photo captions: Street dancers during Cuenca's holiday festivals; President Rafael Correa