Government wants holiday gatherings cancelled; Teachers protest reopening plans; Cuenca named World Crafts City; ETAPA faces budget crisis

Nov 18, 2020 | 0 comments

Martes, 17/11/2020

Hola, Todos –

Actividades –
De la pagina cultural –

Enfoque híbrido dan a Festival de Culturas Urbanas (Hybrid approach for Festival of Urban Culture) – The Alianza Francesa will inaugurate its 3d edition of the Festival de Culturas Urbanas in conjunction with the Museo Pumapungo and the ex Escuela Central (now the Museo de la Ciudad – <I thought that was cleared up years ago>). The festival will include round tables, dance battles, films and workshops for the public both in person and virtually, and run until 28/11. The festival will be inaugurated tomorrow at the Alianza Francesa and transmitted on their Facebook page. There will be a show of urban films el 19/11 a las 19:00. On 20/11 there will be a battle of urban dance a las 15:00 y a las 18:00 in the ex Escuela Central. <I’m guessing most people whose hips, knees, and ankles are over 60 won’t have the flexibility to do those moves.> The Alianza, along with the Fundación de Turismo para Cuenca and the Ministerio de Turismo, will present the Ruta de los Murales. It will also present a mural to the city celebrating the bicentennial. Go to the social network pages of the Alianza for dates.

Otras cosas –

Titular – Vender artesanías al mundo es el reto (Selling crafts to the world is the challenge) – Cuenca was officially designated a Ciudad Mundial de la Artesanía (World City of Crafts) by the World Crafts Council (WCC – Consejo Mundial de Artesanías). It was recognized for paja toquilla (toquilla straw) hats, goldsmithing, pottery, ceramics, baskets, forged iron, embroidery, saddle making, tinsmithing, wood, marble, stonework, and pyrotechnics. One particularity is that the majority of these skills have been transmitted through crafts families for generations.

In July, Mayor Palacios nominated Cuenca to the WCC and delegates of the organization visited the city <Did they come in on humanitarian flights?> to recabar (gather – our word for the day) information. The Mayor explained that this recognition will create more and new marketing opportunities and e-commerce to export Cuencan crafts to the rest of the world. He plans to improve the workshops and reactivate the ruta del artesano. The last talabartero (saddle maker) in Cuenca is on Tarqui y Pres. Córdova which used to be the saddle making sector for the city. <Until that first car got carried up the mountain.>

Once one of many, Miguel Andrade is Cuenca’s last saddle-maker in the historic district. (El Mercurio)

96 comerciantes cierran por deudas con Municipio (96 merchants close due to debts with the Municipality) – 96 merchants at the plaza San Francisco closed their doors yesterday as a way to reject the collection of rents, including for those months of confinement. There is rent forgiveness for tenants of the city, but 96% of the vendors are not tenants but concessionaires of their spaces. The rent for the stalls is $60/mo. and with the accumulated rent and late fees since marzo, what is owed is between $500 & $600. The vendors do not have the money since their sales have not improved since the lifting of the health emergency. The merchants in the Centro Municipal Artesanal (CEMUART) are also protesting and asking for an extention of the rent forgiveness and suspension of the late fees.

In abril, the Consejo Cantonal approved an exoneration and lowering of the amounts the renters would pay the City as compensation for the losses suffered during the lockdown. Because of their different legal form, concessionaires, including the 96 in the plaza San Francisco, were not eligible for these benefits. The council has asked for clarification from the Comisión de Servicios Públicos but has not yet received an answer.

Inicia diálogo para solventar la crisis que tiene ETAPA (Dialogue begins to solve the crisis at ETAPA) – A hunger strike by directors of the Asociación de Empleados de ETAPA has been suspended with the start of talks on the economic and labor crisis at ETAPA being mediated by the Defensoría del Pueblo. Employees are asking for payment of an efficiency bonus for 2019, a payment of disability bonos to 3 ex-employees, and a review of upcoming layoffs. The 1st and 3d demands are financially complicated given that ETAPA is operating at a loss and needs to reduce its payroll. <And of course no one wants to get near that 3d rail of raising rates.>

Aglomeraciones y el riesgo de contagios se incrementan (Agglomerations and the risk of infections increase) – Crowds and family gatherings are two of the main reasons for the increasing risk of new infections. ECU-911 data showed 238 crowds each day last weekend which is close to the 249 crowds during the noviembre holidays. The largest number of agglomerations is on viernes at marcados, shopping centers and entertainment areas such as Calle Larga, plaza de La Merced, Parque de la Madre, and around the stadium. This is worrying authorities who fear a new outbreak. <So keep the mask on — and not below your nose where it’s not doing anyone any good. If that’s how you wear it, you might as well leave it at home.>

Docentes exigen seguridad (Teachers demand safety) – La Unión Nacional de Educadores (National Union of Educators – you should have been able to translate all those cognates by yourselves) sent a list of requirements to the Ministerio de Educación to guarantee the safety of teachers and students during the progressive return to in person classes. The union is asking that 6% of the Producto Interno Bruto (GNP) be dedicated to education, school doctors return, administrative personnel and teachers with vulnerabilities do not work in person, and salaries stay the same as before the emergency. It also asked for reducing the number of students per classroom to 12 for initial levels, and 20 for basic education and high schools to allow for distancing. <How would you distance in a one room school house?> Students who cannot return to school should be supplied with textbooks, given free internet and necessary equipment. <And how would that be done when the nearest wifi is a few kilometers away?>

Diálogo previo para reconsiderar Tasa (Previous dialogue to reconsider Tax) – Cecilia Méndez, the prefect of Azuay, said that there are petitions from cantonal and parochial authorities to restore the Tasa solidaria as a way to generate funding for rural roads. The Tasa solidaria was a tax paid by car owners when their cars were registered, started when Paúl Carrasco was prefect, and was ended by Yaku Pérez who had other sources of funds budgeted. The tax was dedicated for road work in rural areas where many roads are unpaved. <I think it was generally opposed by the transport unions even though it was their suspensions that would be saved if the roads got paved.> Mayors and presidents of the parish juntas agreed that the issue needs to be discussed, and that the transport unions and citizenry need to be informed as well.

Puja por el salario para 2021 (Bid for salary for 2021) – The first of the meetings to set a Salario Básico Unificado (SBU – Basic Unified Salary) was held yesterday, but suspended due to lack of official data. Both workers and employers presented their proposa. The Confederación de Trabajadores del Ecuador (CTE – Confederation of Workers of Ecuador) wanted the basic salary, currently at $400/mo. to be closer to the canasta familiar básica (basic basket of goods) which is now $710. The CTE also wants to consider inflation which is expected to be reach 3%. The employer sector said the increase in past years based on inflation should not apply in 2021 due to the millions of dollars in losses suffered by the productive sector. Also considering the number of jobs lost, the posibility of no increase at all was raised. <New year, same song.>

Sugerirán a alcaldes suspender la fiestas (Suggestion to mayors suspend festivities) – Yesterday, the Mesa Técnica of the National COE suggested that the public events normally celebrated in diciembre be suspended this year. This would include Christmas fairs, parties, and pases de Niño. During the state of emergency, agglomerations at a national level numbered 5,518. <That seems like a lot considering we weren’t supposed to leave the house except for essential stuff.> This tripled in octubre to 14,517, and reached 12,933 in the first half of noviembre with most of the problems in Guayaquil, Quito and Cuenca. Authorities are also worried about alcohol consumption in streets and at parties which has increased 185%. They want shopping centers to have better controls and will probably prohibit the sales of alcohol between 23-25/12 and 30-31/12. <Don’t get caught by surprise when your favorite watering hole starts serving you Shirley Temples and SuperMaxi doesn’t let you buy booze.>

Agenda –

viernes, 20 de noviembre:
10:00 – Conversatorio: Cuenca, 200 años: la ciudad de todas las orillas (Conversation: Cuenca, 200 years: the city of all riverbanks) – Museo Municipal de Arte Moderno – limited capacity.
15:00 – Mediación lectorea. Obra: Estudios, crónicas y relatos de nuestra tierra (Reading mediation. Work: Studies, chronicles and stories of our land) – by María Rosa Crespo – register at

And that’s all for today so Hasta ? –



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