President Rafael Correa reaffirmed this week that Ecuador’s use of the U.S. dollar as its official currency will continue “indefinitely.”
“Although using the dollar puts major constraints on our financial planning, the cost of abandoning it now would be catastrophic. We will continue to use it,” he said.
Correa made his comments during a Thursday television interview.
He also said that speculation that a new digital currency to be created by Ecuador’s Central Bank would replace the dollar was “absurd.” International media has focused on digital, or electronic, currency that is part of new banking rules, quoting some economists that it is part of a plan to abandon the dollar.
“We will proceed very carefully with electronic money,” the president said. “It will be a very small part of our economy and will be backed by dollars, despite what you may read in the media.”
He added: “We will not jeopardize our economy with fiat currency.”
Earthquake aftershocks continue in Quito
As of early Saturday morning, 65 aftershocks had been recorded following Tuesday’s 5.1 earthquake that caused five deaths and damage to hundreds of structures in Quito and the surrounding area.
According to Ecuador’s Geophysical Institute, the shocks have been small, most of them imperceptablie. The largest, on Wednesday, measured 3.1 on the Richter scale.
Although authorities say the aftershocks are tapering off, they say that the region remains on alert. “The emergency continues and citizens should be prepared to respond in the case of another large shock,” said Quito Mayor Mauricio Rodas. “We continue to assess the damage,” he added.
Tuesday’s earthquake caused landslides on several area roads and cave-ins at several mining operations. In addition, damage was reported at three historic churches as well as to private homes.
Health ministry signs contract for Cuban doctors
Ecuador’s health ministry says it has hired 200 Cuban doctors to work in rural communities that are underserved by Ecuadorian doctors. Of those, 37 doctors have been assigned to work in Azuay and Cañar provinces.
“As part of our mission to make health care available to all Ecuadorians, we have signed an agreement with the Cuban government to help us fill medical needs in remote parts of the country,” said Marco Freire, health ministry coordinator for southern Ecuador, including Cuenca. “The Cubans are not displacing Ecuadorian doctors but providing service in areas where Ecuadorian doctors do not want to practice,” he said.
The agreement between Ecuador and Cuba will remain in effect for 11 months and will be extended if necessary, the health ministry says.