ECUADOR DIGESTObjections to plan to import Cuban doctors; overlogging in Esmeraldas prompts ban; new Susan B. Anthony coins

Sep 30, 2013

The president of the Ecuadorian Medical Federation is objecting to President Rafael Correa’s plan to bring hundreds of Cuban doctors to Ecuador to cover medical needs in rural communities. Correa said that local general practitioners are not filling the need. He announced the plan during his weekly television broadcast on Saturday.

According to federation president Alberto Narvaez, Ecuador does not need foreign help. “We have more than enough doctors in the country to accommodate the need. Many of our recent graduates are unemployed,” he said, adding that he felt that it was “unpatriotic” to deny Ecuadorian doctors badly needed work.

“Each year, Ecuadorian medical schools graduate about 2,200 doctors, and many of them have trouble finding placements,” Narvaez says. If there is a problem, he said, more effort should be made to train general practitioners, the area in which Correa says there is a shortage. “Maybe we need to refocus training on areas of the most need but we definitely have the doctors to fill it,” he said.

Narvaez also complained about the salaries that the Cuban doctors will receive which, according to the government, will range from $2,200 to $2,600 a month. “Our beginning doctors earn less than this and, in most cases, they have better training than the Cubans.”

Overlogging prompts state of emergency

President Rafael Correa has declared a state of emergency in Esmeraldas Province in an effort to stop both legal and illigal logging. According to the Ministry of Environment hundreds of hectares of native forest has been destroyed and more controls of the process are needed.

As part of the presidential order, no logging permits will be issued in the next 60 days as environmental officials make a damage assessment. The ministry reports that Esmeraldas has the highest rate of deforestation of any province in the country, much of it the result of legally issued permits.

“First, we must make sure that legal regulations are being followed. Then, we will look at illegal activities,” a ministry statement said.

The ministry says that large areas of native growth, particularly in coastal areas, have been lost in recent years.

New Susan B. Anthony dollars introduced

Ecuador’s central bank has started distributing a U.S. silver dollar. The coin bears the image of feminist activist Susan B. Anthony and was originally minted from from 1979-1981, with a new minting added in 1999.
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The silver coin has the face of Susan B. Anthony on the front and an eagle holding an olive branch on the reverse. Known in the U.S. as the “SBA,” the coin´s composition is similar to that of a U.S. twenty-five cent piece, only slightly larger. To avoid confusion, the dollar SBA has an eleven-sided edge design.

The central bank said that the $1 dollar Sacagawea coin with the image of the woman with the child on her back will continue to circulate, as will dollar coins bearing the images of U.S. presidents, introduced to Ecuador in 2010.

Government to triple tourism budget

The government of Ecuador is slated to increase the country’s annual tourism budget from $40 million to $150 million, Minister of Tourism Vinicio Alvarado announced last week during TravelMart Latin America, the leading regional tourism industry conference which was hosted in Quito.

In order to implement the policies needed for Ecuador to solidify its position as a regional tourism power, the Ecuador Ministry of Tourism is aiming to quadruple its resources. This budget will include funding for infrastructural developments such as roads, ports, and airports, which will exceed direct tourism investment.

Minister Alvarado also announced that Ecuador will receive an estimated 1.36 million tourists by the end of 2013. The number of tourists visiting Ecuador has increased at an average rate between 7 and 8 percent in recent years.

The Minister also discussed priority regional markets for tourism development, including the United States, Colombia, and Peru. The Ministry continues to explore the growth potential for markets including Canada, Argentina, Brazil, China, and Europe.

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