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Cuenca’s return to normalcy could take a few days, leaders caution

Although indigenous leaders have called off their national strike, a return to normal routines in Cuenca may take several days.

Ecuadorians celebrated Sunday night in Cuenca and Quito following the announcement of an agreement between the government and indigenous groups.

“We are very happy that we have reached an agreement but we must be realistic in the amount of time it will take to resume our normal lives,” Azuay Prefect Yaku Perez said Sunday night as he celebrated the agreement between the government and indigenous leaders in Quito.

Dozens of roadblocks must be dismantled and, after that, a 10-day backlog of supplies must be transported to Cuenca, Perez said. “This will not happen overnight and people will have to be patient,” he said.

Perez added that there are groups in the indigenous community that are not satisfied with Sunday’s agreement and some of them will be reluctant to remove roadblocks. “We must still talk to our brothers and sisters who have other concerns and convince them that we have reached the best agreement possible. We have more work to do,” he said.

Among the city’s biggest backlogs is propane gas. Although some gas tankers arrived in town Saturday morning as part of an army-escorted convoy, they provided only enough gas to fill 10,000 canisters. “This is obviously not much for a city of 650,000,” says National Police spokesman Paul Ramos. “Without tonight’s agreement we were facing a huge crisis so it is a great relief that a settlement has been achieved. It will still take most of the week to restore normal supplies.”

Schools and universities will remain closed Monday although the Universities of Cuenca and Azuay say they will reopen Tuesday.

Food supplies, especially produce and meats, remain low in some stores although the city’s nine mercados and the supermarket chain Coral are well stocked. In a Saturday WhatsApp group post, the manager of Cuenca’s Supermaxis said the chain planned to close its stores on Tuesday due to a lack of supplies.

Gasoline and diesel shipments to the city were not affected by the strike since they are delivered via pipeline from Guayaquil.

Flights in and out of Cuenca’s Mariscal La Mar Airport have been suspended since Friday but should resume late Monday or Tuesday, according to the airport administration. The flight suspensions were the result of road blockages between Quito and the Quito airport, where hundreds of air passengers were stranded over the weekend. Almost all flights to Quito was cancelled Saturday and Sunday.

Inter-provincial bus service should resume this week but the timing depends on the clearance of roadblocks.

The city government faces about $200,000 of repair work in the historic district, the result of vandalism during the protests.

City hotels, restaurants and tourism agencies say their loses could run into the millions of dollars due to the strike.

44 thoughts on “Cuenca’s return to normalcy could take a few days, leaders caution

  1. A special tax on the Conaie terrorist organization for the
    $200,000 of repair work would be a good place to start.

    1. The tax should be on the Correa people, not Conaie. They probably won’t be able to pay though since they’ll be in jail.

  2. I have lost all respect for the management of Supermaxi during the strike. Those folks are a total disaster.

    1. I’m not sure about a this. Everything was well stocked on Don Bosco except for meats. It makes me wonder if there was a deliberate attempt against SuperMaxi because they cater to the more affluent and less indigenous crowd. You don’t see indigenous families buying groceries there. I find it interesting that the mercados and Coral were stocked but not the upscale SuperMaxi.

      1. Or it could be that the more affluent crowd stocked and hoarded on a bigger scale and that is why Supermaxi ran out.

    2. I agree. I was in the El Vergel store yesterday and the cupboard was bare. Not even a bag of pasta — and no TP!. Lousy management and I’m switching to Coral.

      1. I switched to Coral several years ago. At Monay, I can get almost everything I need, and the few items they don’t have, I find at specialty stores. Coral was well stocked, even yesterday, except for eggs – not a single one to be had – I wonder if Ecuador’s chicken were on strike too? But we were able to get some huevos del campo at Mercado 10 de agosto, at 30 cents each, which is 5 cents more than normal. I was happy to pay the little extra, but am hoping that the price will return to normal by next week.

          1. I learned as a child that when you take care of the pennies, nickles, dimes and quarters, the dollars take care of themselves. I sure don’t want you teaching my kids how to navigate through life.

    3. For some reason (influence of the wealthy family that owns Coral?) Coral stores had military planes bringing in supplies and restocking the stores. SuperMaxi did not have that advantage. I hold no blame to the management of SuperMaxi, who did not have the military bringing them supplies.

      1. Most likely the Supermaxi managers didn’t think to ASK the military. Coral contracted a deal with the military. Supermaxi could afford it. But to come up with something like this, you have to be thinking on your toes and also be paying attention to the world around you, i.e., reading the newspapers. The managers apparently were inexperienced about crises management and blew it. It’s been 12 years since something like this happened. Current managers most likely weren’t around back then.

          1. Exactly what I was thinking and the same goes for most of the info in the comments. Military contracts favoring one store? Who told them that?

            1. Actually, Terry, there is a kernel of truth in what MermaidGirl writes, but most of her post is pure speculation with no basis in fact. It was a military transport plane that Coral had deliver the goods that kept them stocked (according to articles in the the press that I have read) but that is as far as it goes and there were scant details to explain any of it.

              1. I hear ya Ken. Sometimes, tho, I just wish people would not state as fact what they don’t actually know. Glad the stoppage is over in any case.

                1. Amen, Terry. I’m with you all the way. One of my pet peeves are people that claim that this or that “IS THE BEST IN CUENCA!!!” I don’t care what it is they’re claiming as “the best” but the arrogance of claiming that anything is the best without having tried all of the other possibilities is just a logical impossibility.

                  To make up for their lack of logic, they will either write in all caps, bold their writing, use multiple exclamation marks or do all three. Frankly, wonderwoman is well known in this regard.

    4. Easy for you to criticize. I especially appreciate your constructive criticism in telling all of us what you would have done.

  3. The Prefecto Yaku was busy promoting the revolt, instead of working for the good of the city and province, I do not know what the Mayor of Cuenca was doing. The CONAIE and all involved in the violence should be paying for the damages.

    1. Me: “Yaku, there’s a fire over there!”

      Yaku: “Where’s my gasoline?”

      A disgrace for a public official. . .

  4. We are seriously considering to retire in Cuenca, but the recent unrest and political instability are concerning….I was not aware how much political influence the indigenous groups have on the Government Programs. Could Ecuador become the next Venezuela?

    1. It’s important to keep in mind that this is the first major campesino / indigenous strike in Ecuador in 15 years — there was a smaller one in Quito in 2015 but it had minimal impact on Cuenca. By contrast, there have been three or four nationwide strikes in Colombia and Peru in the same period with many more deaths than in the last week-and-a-half in Ecuador.

    2. The indigenous groups have brought down previous Presidents and while seemingly weakening, they are still very powerful. Like everything in the real world, “It’s complicated”.

      Ecuador becoming, Venezuela, IMO not likely.

      Please, before retiring here (or anywhere) do as much research as possible about the location(s) that you’re considering. That includes studying their history and reading local newspapers. Ecuador is NOT the same as anywhere else. It is unique in it’s beauty and its warts.

      1. We are definitely doing our research and have visited Cuenca as well as other locations in other Central and South American . We really liked Cuenca but recent unrests and political instability was eye-opening. Moreno has been weakened considerably with his concession to the Indigenous Group Leaders. How do reduce the huge debt if the government does not make some economic reforms…at some point the country will cave under its own debt….we will still have Cuenca on our short list, but….

        1. Cuenca was hardly impacted outside of El Centro. I am still hoping for gas this week but I have always had a spare tank. Supermarkets had adequate stock and the streets were safe to walk. Quito and Guayaquil are a way different story.

    3. It’s important to keep in mind that this is the first major campesino / indigenous strike in Ecuador in 15 years — there was a smaller one in Quito in 2015 but it had minimal impact on Cuenca. By contrast, there have been three or four nationwide strikes in Colombia and Peru in the same period with many more deaths than in the last week-and-a-half in Ecuador.

      1. Prior to Moreno was Correa and Correa was closely aligned with Venezuela and his economic policies have put Ecuador with huge debt. It is amazing that the indigenous group leaders dictate government policies.

        1. Actually it’s more complicated than that. The debt increased more under Moreno than under Correa but this was as the price of petroleum was falling. Shade tree economists need to hold their tongues on simple minded solutions.

          1. I know it is more complcated, however if certain economic reforms are not instituted how does Ecuador manage their growing debt. Just increasing taxes is not the answer, how does he stimulate the economy so new business invest in Ecuador. Correa’s strong alliance with Venezuela hurt Ecuador and put it on the same path as Venezuela

            1. Running a country is not exactly like running a household. A budget deficit is not necessarily a bad thing. The US has been running deficits for far more years than surpluses – the last of which was under Bill Clinton and the result of very good economic times. It’s just that usually the IMF comes down on the side of wealth and punishing the poor. That will not (IMO) be allowed to stand in Ecuador. Completely agree that Correa did political stuff that was very destructive (Assange in the London embassy comes to mind). Falling oil prices would have bitten Correa in the butt if he’d stayed in office and now has Moreno in its grasp. Cutting govt. spending is also not necessarily the best thing to do. Tough place to be in for Ecuador and tough decisions to be made.

      2. Thanks, Sara for the one thoughtful response … why don’t the rest of you get out and help SWEEP & CLEAN UP YOUR LOVELY CITY? Find some way to be helpful for a change?

  5. Hello,
    you all seem well informed about the current situation in Ecuador. I am going on holiday there in three weeks and renting a car. Do you have some recommendations?

  6. Read the U.S. State Department’s travel advisories. In my opinion, Ecuador will never return to the inviting country that it once was. Somehow, the backlash from their issues will eventually be directed at the Gringos. The Ecuadorians will never arrive at a civil solution to their economic / fiscal issues, and while they are futzing around, they will eventually kill the golden goose (tourism, and foreign retirees)

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