CUENCA DIGESTNo ‘false marriages’ found in Cuenca and Azuay Province as immigration officials tighten requirements

Sep 19, 2010

Jorge Rojas, director of the Azuay Civil Registry says that no marriages between Ecuadorians and non-Ecuadorians have been challenged in the province. Nationwide, immigration officials have revoked the citizenship of more than 200 foreigners married to Ecuadorians, claiming the marriages were"false" or “illegitimate.” Officials say the marriages were solely for the purpose of foreigners gaining Ecuadorian citizenship, many using false documents.

Immigration officials say that the revoked citizenships mostly affected Cubans, Chinese, Pakistanis and Colombians.

The crack-down on suspicious marriages and naturalizations was required, some say, because of the 2008 policy that allows citizens of all nations to enter Ecuador with only a passport. “This has put a strain on the immigration office,” says Juan Maldonado, former assistant director of foreign immigration. “We are seeing more foreigners entering the country on a passport tourist stamp and overstaying their 90-days.”

Two weeks ago, immigration officials re-instated the visa requirement for citizens of eight African and Middle-eastern nations, including Pakistan and Nigeria. According to Maldonado, entries from these countries had the highest rate of overstaying their tourist stamp. “These are also countries where we have seen high rates of human and drug trafficking and we want to keep this out of Ecuador.”

According to Rojas, the civil registration for marriages between Ecuadorians and non-Ecuadorians can now only be processed in Quito and Guayaquil. “This is a new policy. It is inconvenient for those living in Cuenca but it is required by today's immigration realities,” he says.

NEW INTERNATIONAL FLIGHTS REQUIRE AIRPORT IMPROVEMENTS

The resumption of international flights at Cuenca’s Mariscal La Mar airport on November 3 will require several facility upgrades, according to the airport manager. Flights between Chiclayo, Peru and Cuenca were announced two weeks ago when Peru’s ambassador to Ecuador visited Cuenca. The last international flights from Cuenca –to Cuzco, Peru– ended ten years ago.

In addition to completing paperwork to become re-certified as an international airport, Diego Andrade, says that the airport will need to staff the currently unoccupied customs office and install a baggage x-ray machine that meets international standards. The upgrades will cost about $10,000.

Andrade is working with local tour companies to promote the Chiclayo flight on Peruvian airline Star Peru and believes it will attract a large number of travelers. “There are thousands of Peruvian natives living in southern Ecuador and this will make it easier for them to visit their families,” says Andrade. “Just as important is that this will make it easier for tourists to connect to Cuenca’s sister city, Cuzco, and to Lima.”

CALLE SIMON BOLIVAR WORK COMPLETE AHEAD OF SCHEDULE

Reconstruction work on Calle Simon Bolivar has been completed a month ahead of schedule and traffic is once again flowing on one of the historic district’s most popular thoroughfares.

According to project manager Hector Merchan, replacement and installation of underground utilities went faster than expected in the $1.3 million project. Besides updating utilities, the project involved rebuilding the roadway with a concrete base, widening sidewalks and installing new tile.

Calle Baltasara Calderon, a short street connecting Bolívar to Gran Colombia on the west side of the historic district is the next candidate for reconstruction, according to Merchan. Work on that project should begin in December.

OVERPASS WORK AT LAS AMERICAS AND ORDONEZ LAZO DELAYED TWO MONTHS

Reconstruction work on the Av. Las Americas – Ordóñez Lazo intersection has been delayed for at least two months. According to Azuay infrastructure director, Mauricio Ochoa, the delay is the result of on-going work on the Molleturo – Puerto Inca highway. The contractor for that project, Fopeca, must complete highway project before beginning the Cuenca work.

Ochoa said that funding for the Las Americas – Ordóñez Lazo project is guaranteed and that work should begin before the end of the year.

CITY TRANSPORTATION OFFICE PUBLISHING BUS ROUTE GUIDES

Cuenca’s office of Transport Mobility is printing 10,000 bus route guides and says they will be ready for distribution within a month. The guides will be distributed free at tourist information centers, universities and schools.

Transport Mobility says that the city’s buses currently carry 200,000 a day but have the capacity to carry 100,000 more. “Our main objective is to reduce traffic congestion and one way to do this is to provide more information to residents about bus service,” the transport office said in prepared statement.

Boris Palacios, director of the transport office, says that bus guide is a preview of the improvements to Cuenca’s urban transport system that will be launched in February 2011.

Photo caption: city transportation officials hope that a new bus route guide will increase ridership.

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