Following attack, Manabí courts will telecommute; Businesses want Yasuní vote delayed; Latin America’s most violent countries; Loja rivers run blood-red

Jul 10, 2023 | 17 comments

The National Judiciary Council ordered the 800 employees of the Manabí Province judicial system to telecommute for a period of at least 15 days. The order applies to judges and trials scheduled until July 27 and follows a hand grenade explosion at a Portoviejo judicial center last week. The blast left three people injured, including a 14-year-old girl.

National Police said Friday the detonated device was a lemon-type grenade, thrown from the street toward the back of the Criminal Judicial Unit. They say it would have caused more damage and injuries if it had not become entangled in tree branches before it exploded.

An association of businesses is asking the elections council to postpone the referendum on Yasuní oil production.

Prosecutors believe the attack is related to court cases involving the sentencing of gang members on drug trafficking charges.

The two men arrested Thursday for the grenade attack were killed Saturday in the El Rodeo penitentiary. Police say the murders were related to the men’s gang affiliation, not to the attack on the judicial center.

Latin America’s least peaceful countries
Colombia and Venezuela are the “least peaceful” countries not only in Latin America but in the world, according to the Institute for Economics and Peace. The countries share the 140th ranking, the lowest on the institute’s scale.

The institute rates Iceland and Denmark the most peaceful countries in the world. Uruguay is ranked safest in Latin America.

Due to increasing drug trafficking violence, Ecuador is 97th in the ranking. In its comments, the institute notes that Ecuador is a “tale of two countries,” with most of the violence occurring in five coastal provinces while crime rates show only small increases in the mountain and Amazon regions.

Postpone Yasuní vote, businesses urge
According to the National Association of Businessmen (ANDE), the referendum on oil production in the Yasuní National Park should not be included on the August election ballot. The association claims voters “need more time to consider the consequences of their vote” than the emergency status of the cross-death election allows.

“We are appealing to the National Electoral Council to consider holding the popular consultation on oil operations in the ITT block of the Yasuní at a later date,” ANDE said in a statement. “The economic and social implications of the consultation are enormous and the public needs more time to be educated about the impact. Holding the consultation in the highly charged political arena of an emergency election does not allow voters to gain a full understanding of the issue.”

ANDE admits that it opposes the end to oil production in the Yasuní.

Loja rivers run red with blood
Residents in northern neighborhoods of Loja are complaining that the streams and rivers in the area are running red with blood. They also say ruptured pipes are allowing raw sewage to flow into the waterways.

A neighborhood association said it has complained to municipal authorities for weeks about blood and animal remains flowing into tributaries from two slaughterhouses but has received no response. That changed Thursday following the posting of videos by residents showing the pollution. The video was recorded adjacent the Salvador Bustamante Celi Conservatory of Music, near Jipiro Park.

Orlando Sánchez, Loja Environmental Management director, said he was unaware of the situation prior to seeing the videos. He said “immediate corrective action” would be taken.

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