Following a series of workshops over the weekend, Cuenca city officials and the National Police command announced new plans to improve law enforcement in the city.
The meetings followed reports last week that police were being transferred from Cuenca to Guayaquil. “This was a misunderstanding based on social media reports,” Mayor Pedro Palacios said Saturday. “Several hundred police or being sent to Guayaquil as a result of the crisis there but none are being removed from Cuenca.”
The city and police command agreed on several new measures to control street crime, illegal gun possession, drug sales and motorcycle crime. Palacios said that additional police would be assigned to several high-crime areas, including El Batán, Terrestre Terminal, Cayambe and the markets at Feria Libre and the 9th of October.
District Police Commander Jorge Cevallos also pledged to add 30 motorcycles and five patrol cars to local operations. “We will also work more closely with the municipal police [Citizen Guard] to support their activities and coordinate operations,” he said.
Cevallos said he is aware of citizen concerns that crime is increasing but said this is a misconception. “In fact, rates of almost all crimes are declining here and Cuenca remains one of the safest cities in the country.”
He added that much of the citizen concern is generated on social media. “Unfortunately, social platforms tend to increase fear and hysteria by repeating images of crimes and spreading rumors.”
Guayaquil schools to reopen
The Guayaquil Emergency Operations Committee headed off a legal fight with the national government on Saturday, agreeing to allow schools to resume face-to-face classes on Monday. The cantonal COE said that Covid infections and deaths were declining in the city, allowing the reopenings.
Last week, the cantonal COE had defied an order by the national COE that schools be allowed to resume classes, claiming that pandemic conditions in Guayaquil did not warrant it. Mayor Cynthia Viteri claimed the government was being “careless” in allowing the reopenings and that face-to-face classes would lead to a surge of new Covid-19 cases.
Minister of Education María Brown filed suit against the city, insisting schools reopen. Following Saturday’s COE decision, the Ministry said the case is now moot.
Quito Mayor orders football crowd investigation
Quito Mayor Santiago Guarderas has ordered an investigation to determine if Covid-19 safety rules were violated at last Thursday’s Ecuador-Brazil football game. He claims that the 50 percent stadium capacity limit was violated by the Ecuadorian Football Federation (FEF), which was responsible for selling tickets at Rodrigo Paz stadium. He also said FEF did not enforce social distancing and facemask rules.
“It is clear from photos that the crowd size exceeded the limit approved by the COE [national Emergency Operations Committee],” he said. “It is also clear that the proper distancing and the face-masking requirements were not followed.”
FEF insists that it followed all health rules prescribed by the COE and respected the ticket sales limit. The organization provided a chart of seating sections of the stadium, indicating that only 44 percent of tickets had been sold. “We also posted signage at all entrances of the stadium regarding masking and distancing requirements, as per COE instructions,” FEF said in a statement.
Following the game, a Health Ministry spokesman said that the alleged violations would probably lead to a spike in Covid cases.