Cuenca’s biggest park is neglected, neighbors say; U.S. tariff on Ecuadorian roses and other cut flowers is eliminated; Random Covid-19 tests underway
According to area residents, Cuenca’s IctoCruz megapark is in urgent need of maintenance. Opened in March 2019, the 56 hectare park is the largest of the city’s four megaparks, offering a variety of recreational features including bike paths, mountain biking tracks, bird watching stations, picnic and barbecue facilities and a children’s play area.
“This is a wonderful park but it requires constant upkeep that it is not receiving,” says Miguel Panza, who lives nearby. He says that many of park’s wooden structures are deteriorating and that the grass and shrubbery are not maintained on regular basis. “When the park opened, we were also promised 24-hour security with cameras but there are only daytime guards and no cameras have been installed. We are seeing large numbers of undesirables in the park.”
Mayor Pedro Palacios admits that the budget for park maintenance has been reduced due to a delayed payments from the national government and reduced local tax collections. He says the Covid pandemic has required additional cuts. “We are aware of the situation at IctoCruz and have pledged to improve maintenance soon. I understand how important parks are to the residents of Cuenca.”
Tariff on Ecuador rose exports to the U.S. are eliminated
In an agreement signed Friday with the U.S., Ecuadorian roses can now be imported to the U.S. without a tariff. The agreement was negotiated by U.S. trade commissioner Robert Lighthizer who cited improving relations between the two countries for making the deal possible. “We wanted the reduction in place before Valentine’s Day to benefit both the growers in Ecuador and the buyers in the U.S. According to Lighthizer, Ecuadorian roses are considered the best in the world, commanding the highest prices.
The U.S. is the main commercial customer for Ecuadorian flowers, purchasing 45% of production. The rose and cut flower industry employees 110,000 workers in Ecuador, the majority of them women.
Random Covid tests underway
Thirty health brigades are circulating throughout Cuenca to administer random Covid-19 tests of residents to provide a more accurate assessment of infection rates. The tests are conducted both in homes and on the street, in urban and suburban areas. According to the regional Ministry of Health, the brigades will conduct about 400 tests a day for five days, concluding Wednesday. To date, tests have been taken in the Virgen de Bronce, Totoracocha, Ordóñez Lasso, Parque Industrial, Miraflores, Uncovía, Arenal, Control Sur, Don Bosco, Las Pencas and Pumapungo sectors of the city. All tests are voluntary.