Ecuador’s national police say that crime is dropping in Cuenca. According to a police “security index” of Ecuadorian towns and cities, the city’s overall crime rate has declined 21% in the last four years.
Within recent months, Cuenca has put 250 traffic police on the streets, allowing regular police to concentrate on crime prevention. The city has also installed hundreds of video cameras in high crime areas and installed more lighting. The cameras are monitored 24 hours a day a the ECU 911 center in Cuenca.
Two neighborhoods that report reduced crime are the Barranco and the nearby La Merced neighbhorhood, both in the historic district. Authorities say the new security measures, plus an increased police presence on the streets, is responsible for the crime reduction.
In La Merced, police have made several high profile arrests in recent weeks, most involving drug trafficking and one involving stolen property. La Merced Plaza, at the intersection of Calle Larga and Presidente Borrero, has long been a hot spot for drug sales.
Azuay prefect asks for Coopera investigation
Azuay Province prefect Paul Carrasco is calling for an investigation into the liquidation process of the failed Cuenca financial cooperative Coopera.
Specifically, he is asking the federal government about the fate of farms that had been operated by the cooperative. On Tuesday, he said he has sent an appeal to President Rafael Correa to initiate an investigation. Earlier, the president’s office said it would not get involved in the liquidation process.
The federal office of Economia Popular y Solidaria (SEPS) is liquidating Coopera and is in the process of paying vendors and contractors who are owed money. It is also issuing refunds for most of the 115,000 account holders. It says it intends to repay 99% of account holders.
Those unpaid so far include investors with more than $10,000 in their accounts. Carrasco asked SEPS for additional information on the repayment schedule for those accounts. He pointed out that Azuay Province has a $52,000 account with Coopera and said he is considering the money lost until he hears something to the contrary.
It is estimated that between 120 and 150 North Americans have accounts with Coopera of more than $10,000, representing $17 million in investments. Three of those accounts reportedly contain more than $1 million.
Olympic medalist Jefferson Perez honored
Cuenca honored Ecuador’s only Olympic gold medalist in a ceremony last week in Parque de la Madre.
Cuenca native Jefferson Perez won a gold medal at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics in the 20km speed walk. He won the silver medal in 2008 in Beijing, shortly before announcing his retirement.
As a child, Perez was a shoe shine boy in Parque Calderon. His running and speed walking abilities were discovered by coaches in public school and he was encouraged to take up the sports.
He did much of his training in Parque de la Madre, where a statue honors his achievements.
Photo caption: La Merced Plaza on Calle Borrero