Falling rocks kill one, injure three in Cajas; Migration creates local labor shortage; Banco Pichincha to offer refunds; Ecuadorians third shortest in South America
One person was killed and three more were injured Sunday when falling boulders struck their pick-up truck on the Cuenca-Guayaquil highway in the Cajas Mountains. The accident happened near Molleturo where a major landslide occurred in August. The highway was closed following the accident but was expected to reopen Monday morning. Motorists traveling to the coast were advised to take the alternative route through Zhud, in Cañar Province.
Following multiple rockfalls, the Ministry of Transportation began an engineering study to determine if the mountainside adjacent the highway can be stabilized or if the highway will require rerouting.
The area where Sunday’s accident occurred has experienced frequent rockfalls since the highway was built 25 years ago.
Out-migration creates local labor shortage
Due to thousands of residents leaving for the United States, shoemakers and artisanal businesses in Gualaceo, Chordeleg, Paute and Girón report difficulties in finding workers. According to the National Census Service, the four towns have lost an estimated 15,000 residents since October 2020, the majority of which are believed to have traveled to the U.S.
Two shoe-making factories in Gualaceo report an “extreme” shortage of workers and say it is affecting production schedules. In addition, goldsmithing, textile, embroidery, pottery, weaving and fireworks businesses say they cannot fill all their positions.
Gualaceo, Chordeleg, Paute and Girón, all located in Azuay Province near Cuenca, have historically been the communities most affected by out-migration in Ecuador, with Girón losing more than 30 percent of its population in the 1990s and early 2000s.
Banco Pichincha offers refunds as complaints continue
Although some customers say they are still having difficulty accessing Banco Pichincha’s online services, the bank reports that most of its systems have been fully restored. A spokesman said that high demand is slowing internet functions, adding that system response times should return to normal within two to three days.
On Sunday, the bank said it would refund fees and penalties imposed following last week’s shutdown. For five days, most of the bank’s online systems were disabled following a cyberattack the bank blames on Russian and North Korean hackers.
Pichincha said it would refund interest and fines charged for late payments on loans and credit cards; refund fees charged for overdrafts; refund ATM charges; and refund the charge for new check requests that were not fulfilled. In addition, the banks said it will pay interest on certificates of deposit that were not renewed during the system shutdown.
For more information on refunds, the bank is asking customers to go to its website, https://informacion.pichincha.com
Ecuadorians are the third shortest in South America
According to a survey conducted by National Geographic, Ecuadorians are the third shortest people in South America. Residents of Bolivia and Peru are the shortest in the region. The average height of Ecuadorians is 161.3 centimeters or 5 foot, 3 inches.
The survey says that hereditary factors and diet are the primary determinants of height although environmental factors, such as altitude, also play a role. The tallest people in the world are the Dutch, averaging over 6 feet.