Government-indigenous talks suspended over price control impasse; Judge who ordered Glas’ release is arrested; Covid cases drop ahead of holiday weekend
Negotiations between the government and indigenous groups were suspended Wednesday as the two sides were unable to agree on price controls. The Catholic Episcopal Conference, which is moderating the talks, asked the two sides to reconsider their positions. “At this point, there is an irreconcilable impasse and we are requesting the two parties to conduct internal discussions on this issue with the objective of finding common ground,” the Conference said in a statement.
The leadership of the indigenous Conaie, Feine and Fenocin organizations is demanding that price controls be set on 44 products while the government says this is not possible since some of the products are imported.
Deputy Government Minister Homero Castanier, member of the government negotiation team, said he understands the need for price controls on some products that affect the indigenous and poor population. “Some of these are reasonable but the government has no control of the prices of products and equipment that come from out of the country. These are determined by the international market.”
He added: “We ask that indigenous negotiators brief themselves on the basic laws of economics, especially as it relates to world markets.”
The Catholic Conference said it would announce a date for the resumption of talks once it hears from the two sides.
Judge in Glas habeas corpus case is arrested
Banny Molina, the judge who granted habeas corpus to three prisoners including former vice president Jorge Glas, is under house arrest in Portoviejo. The judge was arrested Tuesday night for his role in a 2018 case unrelated to the grants of habeas corpus.
According to the prosecutor, the arrest follows an investigation into Molina’s handling of an embezzlement case when he allowed the convict to serve his two-year sentence at home. The prosecutor said other cases handled by Molina are also under review, including one in which he allowed a convicted murderer to serve his sentence under house arrest.
A former prosecutor who was part of the original investigation said there is “strong evidence” that Molina was bribed by criminal gangs. The unnamed source, said the case against Molina should have been resolved years ago. “It is unfortunate that the matter has become confused with the habeas corpus for Glas since the issues are not related,” he said. “The judge should be serving a prison sentence by now.”
On August 5, Molina issued the habeas corpus grants and ordered Glas and Salcedo released from prison on the grounds of poor health. Due to legal action against Molina, it appears those orders will not be executed.
Covid cases drop ahead of holiday weekend
The National Emergency Operations Committee announced Wednesday that there will be no restrictions of movement during the three-day independence holiday weekend that begins Friday. The COE dropped recommendations for masking in government offices and some indoor businesses following the latest report by the Ministry of Health showing a “significant reduction” in the number cases of Covid-19 reported since the third week of July.
“People should go out and have fun during the holiday,” Juan Zapata, COE president said. “We are pleased to report the improvement that indicates pandemic cases are in decline.” He added that the World Health Organization is also reporting improvement worldwide. “Hospitalizations have dropped by 12% and deaths are down 9% during the last week of July and first week of August.”