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CUENCA DIGESTUniversity of Cuenca proposes new commercial space near Casa de los Arcos on Rio Tomebamba

The University of Cuenca has asked the cantonal council for permission to build a bar or coffee shop next to the Casa de los Arcos on the Tomebamba River. The university owns the renovated Arcos and says the new addition will bring more people to the Barranco area across from the university. A spokesperson for the university also said the new business and the activity it would generate will help improve safety in the area.

The project has the support of councilman Alfredo Ordonez, who also sits on the historic district archtechtural control committee. The two-story structure that the university proposes is compatible with the architectural environment of the Barranco, Ordonez says. "We've seen great improvement on the Barranco in recent years and this will only make things better." He cited the recently completed Otoronga escalinatas as an example of progress on the Barranco.

The proposal also has the support of a majority of the rest of the council but a final decision was delayed until a future meeting.

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PRESIDENT CORREA PLEDGES SUPPORT FOR WORLD PEACE MARCH

Ecuador President Rafael Correa and Congressional president Fernando Cordero have pledged their support for the "World March for Peace and Non-Violence" which begins October 2, in New Zealand. The march will pass through 104 countries, including Ecuador, on its five-continent trek. Tentative plans has the march passing through Quito, Guayaquil and Cuenca.

Cordero met with Spanish humanist Rafael de la Rubia, international coordinator of the initiative, Friday in Quito to discuss plans and to pledge his support. Also at the meeting were Chilean activist and Latin American coordinator Tomás Hirsch, Jose Salcedo, Ecuadorian organizer and Cuenca coordinator Graciela Quinde.

De la Rubia explained that the objective of the world march is to demonstrate public support for an end of all forms of violence. “First, we want to make a statement against war. Just as important, however, is to show that we oppose all forms of violence: physical, economic, racial, religious, cultural, sexual, psychological."

Earlier, Correa, speaking from the presidential palace balcony, pledged government resources to the world march. “If you need a stadium, we will provide it. If you need the police to assist with the march, they will be available to you. We support the world march and will help you however we can.”

REMITTANCES DROP AGAIN IN THE FIRST QUARTER OF 2009

Ecuador received $554.5 million U.S. dollars in remittances from citizens living abroad in the first quarter of 2009 — a decline of 27% from the same period in 2008 –according to Ecuador’s Central Bank. Overseas remittances are the second largest income source for Ecuador, after oil.

Remittances had also decreased 13.9% in the fourth quarter of 2008.

The decline is primarily due to the deepening recession in the U.S. and Europe. There are 2.5 million to 3 million Ecuadorians living in the U.S., Spain, Italy and France, according to Central Bank estimates.

Photo captions: The new Otorongo escalinatas near Casa de los Arcos; President Rafael Correa