Election campaign begins today; More court officials request police security; Galapagos feels early El Niño effects; Former VP Glas faces new criminal charges
The National Electoral Council voted Wednesday to allow the cross death election campaign for the presidency and National Assembly to begin on Thursday. Previously, the start date was August 9 but CNE President Diana Atamaint believed that did not allow sufficient time for candidates to present their agendas before the August 20 election.
CNE councilor Elena Nájera objected to the change, claiming Atamaint did not allow time to debate the new schedule. Two other councilors, José Cabrera and Enrique Pita, sided with Atamaint, and the change became official.
“Because of the cross death, this election presents issues that this council has not dealt with before,” Atamaint said. “Yes, the change is being made with little notice, but the election is less than five weeks away and we need to put voters’ interests of understanding the candidates’ proposals ahead of other concerns.”
The campaign will end August 17, three days before the election.
More court officials request security
Ecuador’s Judiciary Council (CJ) says there has been an “exponential increase” in requests for police protection made by prosecutors, judges, notaries and other officers of the judicial system. The requests follow hundreds of death threats and the murder of at least four judicial personnel since early 2022.
According to the Council, requests for additional security have increased from 12 in 2019 to 83 in 2023. “We expect the number of requests to increase as a result of rising crime associated with criminal gang activity,” said David Guzmán, Judiciary Secretary.
Guzmán said most of the requests have come from coastal provinces, where most legal cases involving criminal gangs and drug trafficking are handled.
“There is increasing need for coordination between the different entities of the judicial system and police since threats of violence affect not only judicial officers but their families,” Guzmán said. “There is also concern that the threats will affect court decisions.”
Citizen Guards remove informal vendors, windshield washers
Under directions of new Cuenca Mayor Cristian Zamora, the city’s Citizen Guard continues its campaign to remove informal vendors from areas adjacent to public mercados. This week, the Guard is targeting vegetable and fruit vendors at the 10 de Augusto market on Calle Larga while similar efforts continue at Feria Libre. Zamora claims informal vendors are unfair competition to registered vendors who rent space in the markets. They also crowd public sidewalks, often forcing pedestrians into the streets, he says.
The Guard is also going after informal windshield washers at busy intersections. Police have received complaints that some of the washers threaten motorists who refuse to have their windshields cleaned. According to the Guard, the informal washers also disrupt the movement of traffic.
On Monday and Tuesday, the Guard confiscated four knives and one firearm from windshield washers working intersections on Av. Las Americas and Av. Primero de Mayo.
Galapagos feels El Niño effect
The Galapagos Islands are beginning to experience the impact of the developing El Niño weather system. The weather monitoring center of the Polytechnic School of the Littoral reports that unseasonal rainfall is being recorded in the archipelago as seawater temperatures rise.
It also reports higher wave action, called Kelvin waves, an indication that El Niño is beginning. According to the U.S. NASA space and weather agency, the Kelvin waves, which are higher than normal, develop as water temperatures rise in the equatorial Pacific Ocean.
Former VP Glas is back in court
Former vice president Jorge Glas was back in court Wednesday as new charges of embezzlement and mismanagement of 2016 earthquake relief funds against him are being prepared. The alleged crimes were committed in the awarding of the contract for the reconstruction of the 22-kilometer Manta-Colisa highway in 2017.
According to prosecutors, Glas and two other government officials received illegal payments from the $68 million project.
Glas, who was convicted on two earlier corruption charges for crimes committed while he was in office, is currently out of prison based on a habeas corpus ruling. His attorney says he may be returned to prison soon.