Ecuador refuses to discuss Assange with the U.S.
Although the U.S. had asked that the case of Julian Assange be included on the agenda of Thursday’s meeting between President Lenin Moreno and U.S. Vice President Michael Pence, Ecuador refused. “This is a matter for Ecuador and the United Kingdom and, of course, Mr. Assange, to resolve and it does not involve the United States,” said Ecuador Foreign Minister José Valencia. Wikileaks founder Assange has lived in Ecuador’s British embassy in London for six years under a grant of political asylum by former president Rafael Correa.
In addition to pressure from Pence’s office to discuss Assange’s status, a group of Republican and Democratic senators and congressman accompanying the vice president also pressed Ecuador for talks on Assange. In a letter to Ecuador’s foreign ministry, the highest-ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Committee, Robert Menéndez, said he was “extremely concerned that Ecuador was providing asylum to Assange” and that the topic should be discussed between the two countries.
Ecuador seeks extraditions from the U.S.
Following this week’s meeting between President Lenin Moreno and U.S. Vice President Michael Pence, Ecuador plans to relaunch extradition proceedings against a number of Ecuadorian citizens living in the U.S. Pence and U.S. officials who accompanied him indicated a willingness to take a fresh look at cases of where Ecuadorian courts have handed down convictions in absentia. Among Ecuador’s major targets are Pedro Delgado and Carlos Pólit, sentenced for accepting bribes in the Odebrecht corruption scandal, and Roberto and William Isaias, central figures in the country’s 1999 financial collapse, who the government said embezzled tens of millions of dollars. Most of the 44 fugitives that Ecuador wants returned live in South Florida.
Galapagos volcano activity increases
Following a two-day lull in volcanic activity, a swarm of earthquakes under the Sierra Negra volcano in the Galapagos Islands on Friday indicates that the intensity of the eruption is once again increasing. The government, which allowed about 50 residents near the volcano to return to their homes on Isabela Island on Wednesday, says they must again evacuate. Ecuador’s Geophysical Institute reported 160 earthquakes on Friday and said the seismic activity indicates that pressure is increasing under the caldera.
Ironworks neighborhood houses restored
Twenty-one historic houses in Cuenca’s Las Herrerías barrio are getting a facelift under a city restoration program. For more than 200 years, the neighborhood has been known as the center of the city’s ironworks trades, where artisans designed and carfted iron decorations for homes and businesses, including balconies, trellises and roof ornaments. Funding for the restoration, which focuses on repairing the roofs and facades of houses, is being provided by the city and private donations. The work is being directed by a team of architects from the University of Cuenca.