Foreign Ministry continues to examine the effect expats have on Cuenca

Jan 16, 2016 | 7 comments

Ecuador’s Foreign Ministry says it continues to study the impact non-Spanish-speaking foreign residents have on Cuenca. In February 2015, the ministry said it might be required to take special action to “mitigate the cultural and economic impact immigrants are making to the local population.”

An expat gathering in Cuenca.

An expat gathering in Cuenca.

According to the ministry’s office of immigrant communities, the 5,000 North Americans, British and Australian constitute a “unique situation” in Ecuador that requires special attention.

In addition to English-speaking foreign residents, the ministry says Cuenca has growing populations of Europeans, especially German, French, as well as about 4,000 Colombians, Peruvians, Cubans and Argentinians living in the city.

“No other city in the country has an immigrant population of this size in relation to its population,” said undersecretary of immigration Humberto Cordero in February 2015. “It is possible we will need to place restrictions on the number of foreign residents living in the city and encourage them to locate in other areas.”

Humberto said that the number of foreign residents in Cuenca continues to grow by 1,000 to 2,000 a year.

Cordero added that Ecuador is “flattered that Cuenca has become such a popular destination for foreigners but that the impact on local services, health care and prices must be considered.”

According to Cordero, foreigners have been attracted to Cuenca by an “unprecedented amount of media coverage, especially in the foreign press.”

The city of Cuenca has told the ministry that it sees no problem with the city’s foreigners and has established special programs to help integrate them into the city’s culture. The city’s office of foreign affairs says it will continue to work with national immigration authorities to find a solution to any problems related to immigrants.

To read the February 2015 article, click here.

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