Former VP Glas goes on hunger strike, Heritage institute objects to tram station design, Study says city sidewalks violate standards

Oct 24, 2018

Glas moved to new prison, goes on hunger strike

According to his attorney, former vice president Jorge Glas is on a hunger strike. Eduardo Franco Loor says the strike is a protest of the conditions of his incarceration and his relocation over the weekend from a Quito prison to one in Latacunga. “The conditions of my client’s detention are deplorable and inhumane,” Loor said Tuesday. Glas is serving a six-year prison term for illicit association related to the Odebrecht and other corruption scandals involving bribery and money laundering of public works money. Loor claims that Glas’ relocation to Latacunga is “arbitrary and unconstitutional” since he was not given 48 hours notice of the decision.

Former vice president Jorge Glas moves to new digs.

According to Loor, the former vice president suffers from chronic gastritis and hypertension.

The communication ministry said that Glas’ transfer was necessary following the escape of Fernando Alvarado, press secretary to former president Rafael Correa. Alvarado was under indictment on 11 counts of mishandling public funds when he removed a court-ordered electronic ankle monitor on Friday and left the country. The ministry said it is concerned that some employees within the  corrections and law enforcement system assisted Alvarado in the escape.

Cultural heritage institute doesn’t like tram stations

Tram station on Av. Las Americas.

The regional director of the National Institute of Cultural Heritage (INPC), Patricio Zamora, says the 15 tram stations being erected in Cuenca’s historic district do not meet the institute’s standards. “These facilities were not given approval by my office prior to their design and installation and must undergo review and may have to be modified or replaced,” he says. “The structures are not compatible with the old homes and buildings in the city center.”

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According to tram project director Jaime Guzmán, who met with members of the institute staff, the station design was approved in 2012 and had the approval of UNESCO. “The UNESCO recommendation was made following consultation with the city and national historic and cultural authorities,” he said. “We are not in a position to make design changes at this point in the project but will maintain open communications with the institute in the future and are open to making future changes as appropriate.”

New report criticizes city sidewalks

A University of Cuenca study reports that most of the city’s sidewalks fail to meet legal standards, including accessibility for the disabled and the elderly and minimum width. According to Daniel Orellana, director of the university’s Llactalab which conducted the study, 38 percent of sidewalks do not meet the minimum 1.2 meter width standard. In addition, he says, there is an average of six obstacles, such as light poll guy wires, potholes and poorly placed ramp cuts, per block. In all, only seven of the 67 sidewalks studied meet 75 percent of legal requirements and recommendations.

Álvaro Vintimilla, Cuenca public works project director, agrees with the study findings and says efforts are underway to make corrections. “We are making sidewalk repairs and corrections as we discover the problems but there are budget constraints,” he said. Regarding the minimum sidewalk width requirement, he says rules protecting historic buildings prevent the standard from being fully met. “In the historic center, there are some places with no sidewalks at all because of the positioning of old houses that cannot be altered.”

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