Foreign revote means Lasso will extend presidency; Cuenca airport preps for El Niño; Azuay mine owner responds to court order; Dog murderer sentenced

Aug 30, 2023 | 0 comments

President Guillermo Lasso will remain in office until early December and possibly longer due to the National Electoral Council’s decision to throw out results of the August 20 foreign vote for the National Assembly. Originally, the new president was expected to take office by the end of November.

The date of the presidential inauguration will be determined after results from the foreign election and presidential runoff are counted and certified, and the new Assembly elects its officers and makes committee assignments. The seating of the new Assembly and the inauguration could be delayed further by legal challenges, the CNE says.

The CNE decided to reschedule foreign voting due to cyberattacks of the online election system on August 20. It estimated that as many as 70,000 Ecuadorians living overseas were unable to vote as a result of the attacks and believe several hundred of the votes that were counted had been adulterated. In total, 409,000 Ecuadorians living out of the country are registered to vote.

The CNE decided last week to require in-person foreign voting on October 15, a move that is expected to reduce the number of those voting.

Cuenca’s Mariscal La Mar Airport says it is prepared to handle more traffic as a result of the developing El Niño weather phenomenon. (El Mercurio)

Airports prepare for El Niño
Ecuador’s three busiest passenger airports, in Quito, Guayaquil and Cuenca, are making preparations for the developing El Niño weather phenomenon. “A severe El Niño, similar to the one experienced in 1998, could mean that air travel will be the only link between the coast and the sierra for several months,” Ecuador’s Civil Aviation Authority said in a statement. “We are advising the country’s airports to prepare for all possibilities.”

José Luis Aguilar, director of Cuenca’s Mariscal La Mar Airport, said the airport is prepared to increase flights if flooding and landslides blocks highway connections to Guayaquil and the coast. “In the last two years we have seen the disruptions that heavy rainfall and landslides cause to the roads between Cuenca and Guayaquil and we will add passenger seats as necessary.”

Aguilar said airport personnel are making upgrades to handle more air traffic as necessary. “We have recently extended airport operating hours to 11 p.m. to accommodate more flights,” he added.

Management at Quito’s Mariscal Sucre Airport said it is investing $700,000 to clear drains and gutters on lower elevation roads leading to the airport in anticipation of heavy rains. Communication director, Luis Galárraga, said the airport stands ready to add additional flights to the coast if necessary.

According to the national weather agency, a severe El Niño will bring flooding rains to regions of the country below 1,500 meters in elevation while it can mean drought for cities such as Quito and Cuenca.

Azuay mine owners respond to suspension order
The owners of the Loma Larga mine south of Cuenca said Tuesday they will not abandon the project and will follow court-ordered recommendations to resume operations. On Monday, an Azuay provincial court ordered all mining activity at Loma Larga suspended because of inadequate environmental studies and the failure to receive prior approval from residents living in the Quimsacocha community, where the mine is located,

Mine owner Dundee Precious Metals said it was disappointed in the court’s decision but had no plans to abandon the project. It said it had already scheduled meetings with area residents to discuss the mine, its impact and employment opportunities. The owners added that they will work with the Ministry of Mining to determine what additional environmental studies need to be conducted, especially those that relate to protecting water quality.

According to the Mining Ministry, Dundee has already invested $500 million in the project and followed all government requirements. The ministry said Loma Larga could generate as much as $1.7 billion in revenue to the government over the period of its operation.

The court order to suspend Loma Larga operations was attacked Tuesday by government and mining officials. “The mining industry is under attack in Ecuador and if it has a future the government must step in and develop strict guidelines for the challenges we are experiencing,” said Chamber of Mining President María Silva. “This is an industry that will pay billions of dollars in taxes to the state and it requires protection to do its job once it has fulfilled its legal obligations.”

Dog murderer sentenced to prison
A woman who killed a Siberian husky has been sentenced to three years in prison by a Quito court. The unnamed woman admitted to putting a rope noose around the dog’s neck and suspending it from a tree limb in her yard in San Carlos del Sur in November 2022.

The woman was arrested following complaints from a Quito animal rights organization and the dog’s owners, who were on vacation at the time of the crime.

On its Facebook page, the “Paws of Hope” organization praised the legal system for “administering justice” in the death of two-year-old Spayk. “We celebrate the verdict as we continue to mourn the death of Spayk and hope it sends a message to anyone who might commit a crime against an animal.”


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