Cuenca to host Ibero-American Summit in 2024; Noboa announces plans for two new prisons; Fuel subsidies will remain in place — for now

Dec 23, 2023 | 0 comments

During a Thursday visit to Cuenca, President Daniel Noboa announced that the city will host the 29th Ibero-American Summit in November 2024. According to Noboa, the city was chosen in part because of the interest of King Felipe VI of Spain, who has an ancestral connection to Cuenca, Spain, for which Cuenca, Ecuador is named.

The summit, which was last held in the Dominican Republic in 2022, brings together presidents and prime minister of 22 Spanish-speaking countries to discuss issues of common interest.

During his Thursday visit to Cuenca, President Daniel Noboa announced that the city will host the Ibero-American Summit in November 2024. (El Mercurio)

During his announcement, Noboa said Cuenca was an attractive choice to host the event. “This is city full of history, culture and traditions, characterized for being innovative, inclusive, sustainable and friendly,” he said. “It is also known for its attractiveness to foreigners and has a large population of North Americans, Europeans, as well as people from other Latin American countries.”

Another feature considered in Cuenca’s selection to host the summit, the president said, was the city’s low crime rate.

Among the main topics to be discussed at the summit, Noboa said, are transnational crime, youth employment, human trafficking, cross-border migration and indigenous rights.

Noboa plans new prisons, alliance with the U.S.
During his visit to Cuenca President Daniel Noboa announced the construction of two new prisons to house the country’s most violent criminals. Also, as part of his Fénix Security plan, he said he has secured agreements with the U.S. and EU for training and supplies to combat drug trafficking and international crime.

“The rapid increase in crime in Ecuador requires an extraordinary and unconventional response,” Noboa said during a radio interview. “Within a matter of four years, we have gone from one the region’s most secure countries to one of the most violent and the Fénix plan will reverse this trend.”

Noboa offered few details about the new prisons except to say he hopes to have them operational within 200 days. He declined to answer a question of whether the prisons will be based on ships at sea. “This is still in the planning stages but it is important to understand that this administration will not release information that might be useful to criminal groups. I believe in transparency, but not if it provides assistance to criminals.”

To relieve crowding in the prisons, the president said he will deport about 1,000 foreign inmates from the country. “We current house 3,000 foreigners and about a third of these have been convicted of lesser crimes and their sentences can be completed in their home countries. We are in talks with the foreign ministries of Colombia, Peru and other countries regarding this transfer.”

In addition to the new prisons, Noboa said he will request $70 million from the National Assembly to modernize and upgrade existing prisons.

He said the agreement he has reached with the U.S. will provide state-of-the-art weaponry to Ecuadorian police and Armed Forces in exchange for scrap metal intended for sale on the open market. “The U.S. has an interest in combatting organized drug crime due to the fact it is a consumer of illegal substances shipped from Ecuador and other countries.”

Fuel subsidies will remain in place
Although the new government agrees fuel subsidies are a major burden to the economy, it says it does not plan major changes during its short term in office. “This must be addressed, and we are developing proposals to target subsidies to the population that needs them, but we will not have time during this administration to institute adjustments,” says Arturo Félix, Secretary General of Public Administration. “Because of the cross death, this government will serve for only 16 more months, and this is not enough time to make decisions on such a complicated matter as subsidies.”

Félix insisted that the Noboa government is not “dodging” the issue. “We are working on a plan, but remember, the last three governments all promised to reduce and target subsidies and didn’t. This not only has massive implications for the budget – we are talking about a $5 billion dollar expense – but it is an emotional one for many people. To develop a viable plan, we need to talk to many sectors of society, and this takes time.”

In its short time in office, Félix said the Noboa government will focus on public security and law enforcement, employment, especially of young people, and health services. “These are the issues people tell us are the most important to their lives and this is where we are putting most of our energy.”

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