Over the next eight months, Cuenca will welcome about 80 French families as project managers and technicians arrive to oversee construction of Cuenca’s new light rail system.
The new arrivals are employees of French companies, including Alstom and Clermont Ferrand Transport, contracted to manage construction of the new commuter train system.
Carmen Moreno, Cuenca’s honorary French consul, sees the arrival of more French citizens as an opportunity to expand French influence in the city. According to immigration office estimates, Cuenca currently has about 90 French residents with another 150 here on non-resident visas.
Morena expects to see more French businesses opening in Cuenca, including restaurants, as a result of the influx. “The French families will also be looking to buy and rent homes and I have been in touch with one man interested in starting a travel agency that would cater to French residents,” she says. “I am excited that there will be more French contributions to the city.”
Philippe Grosjean, who is coordinating the relocation of French families, says that discussions are underway with Cuenca’s Alliance Francaise to provide cultural and educational services for French families. One priority, he says, is to provide schooling for French children.
Grosjean believes that Cuenca will provide a good environment for the new French residents. “The city is not too big or too small and it offers the amenities to make the transition easier for our families. It’s also a benefit that the city already has a large expatriate population of North Americans and Europeans.”
President finally responds to Coopera members
In a weekend post on his Twitter account, President Rafael Correa seemed to confirm what the Coopera liquidator is telling the unpaid members of the closed Cuenca financial cooperative: don’t expect to get all your money back.
Liquidator Diego Aguilar says that in the best case scenario, the 669 unpaid Coopera members should only expect to receive 50 per cent of their deposits.
Those 669 depositors have amounts of more than $30,000 invested with Coopera. Depositors with less than $30,000 have received their money back or have opted to leave it in one of the four other cooperatives assigned to take over Coopera accounts. According to Aguilar, the deposits of less than $30,000 come to a total of $36 million while the deposits of the 669 who have not been repaid amount to $69 million.
In his Tweet, Correa said that the government is working hard in the Coopera case but that the unpaid account holders should not expect to see the return of all of their money.
Carlos Heredia, who represents some of the unpaid Coopera members and is himself an investor, cautioned that the president’s remarks were based on information provided by his advisers and should not be taken as a final verdict. Heredia said he believes that the courts will ultimately decide in favor of members. “I have no fear that, in the end, we will get everything back, including the interest,” he said.
Attorneys for the unpaid members continue to claim that the Coopera closure was handled improperly, in violation of the government’s own rules. Despite numerous efforts to obtain information about the closure, little has been been forthcoming. Last week, a judge sided with government in withholding documents justifying Coopera’s shutdown. Coopera members plan to appeal.
Meanwhile, Coopera attorney Gustavo Quito will be in court this morning for a hearing that could determine the fate for seven Coopera employees and officers accused of money laudering and embezzlement. Quito says he wants to make sure that those responsible for illegal activities are fully punished.
Photo caption: Cuenca’s new light rail, or tranvia