Two-thirds of Ecuadorians say their personal economic situation is worse than it was a year ago, with 82% blaming it on the Covid-19 pandemic. Almost as many, 63 percent, believe that most of their elected officials are corrupt.
In the latest Political Culture of Democracy in Ecuador and in the Americas, conducted by Vanderbilt University, a surprising number of Ecuadorians, 44 percent, said they would be willing to accept a non-elected government if it reduced corruption.
Thirteen percent of those surveyed reported they were asked to pay a bribe by a police officer within the past twelve months while 10 percent said another public employee asked for payment of favors.
Despite concerns about corruption, 63 percent of the 3,000 Ecuadorians polled said they still preferred democracy over other forms of government.
The one area in which the government received high approval was in its response to the Covid-19 pandemic, with 86 percent saying President Guillermo Lasso did a good job protecting the public, especially with the vaccination program. The researchers pointed out that Ecuador has one the highest vaccination rates in Latin America and one the lowest per capita Covid death rates.
Concern among Ecuadorians for contracting the Covid-19 virus was among the highest in Latin Amerca, at 72 percent, while the country ranked among the three lowest for hospitalizations and deaths.
Regarding Ecuador’s relationships with the United States and China, the majority of respondents believed ties with the U.S. should be strengthened even if it damages relations with China. Sixty percent said the U.S. was trustworthy and reliable while only 36 percent said the same for China.
More than 500 arrests made during crime emergency
A total of 533 people were taken into custody during the first week of the anti-crime emergency in Esmeraldas, Guayas and Manabí Provinces. In addition, 381 vehicles, 62 firearms and 2,594 kilograms of drugs were seized.
President Guillermo Lasso praised the efforts of police and army personnel assigned to “Plan Rescue,” code name for the state of emergency he declared two weeks ago. “This a blow to the criminals involved in drug transport and micro-trafficking in Ecuador,” he said. “We also arrested several suspects we believe are involved in murders in Guayaquil and Duran.”
Lasso said Friday he is committing an additional $11.6 million to Plan Rescue.
In addition to the assignment of thousands of additional police and military troops to the three provinces, the state of emergency imposes nightly curfews in several high-crime neighborhoods.
Only one Covid-19 death last week
The Ministry of Health reported one death from the Covid-19 virus during the last seven days. The deceased, from Quito, was described as an elderly man also suffering from diabetes and liver disease.
The Ministry said that the percentage of excess deaths, based on 2019 death records, was 2.8 percent for the week.
Arrests made in bus and tram card scam
National Police have arrested four men they say reprogrammed bus and tram cards to reflect the rate charged to the elderly, students and disabled instead of full fare. The reprogrammed cards charged half of the 30 cent fare for buses and 35 cent fare for the tram.
According to the Cuenca Transportation Authority, 155 Movilízate cards were seized during the arrests but say dozens more remain in circulation.