Gov’t will appeal new habeas corpus for Glas; Sangay volcano ashfall reported; Warning of increased illegal mining; 94% of vehicles use subsidized fuels
President Guillermo Lasso said Monday night that the government will appeal a new habeas corpus ruling in favor of former vice president Jorge Glas, adding that Glas should remain in prison during the appeal. The habeas corpus was issued by Judge Banny Rubén Molina of the Portoviejo Penitentiary Guarantees Unit based on “a violation of Glas’ right to health and physical integrity.”
Molina’s ruling also applies to a second prisoner, Daniel Salcedo. As of early Tuesday, both men remained in a Quito prison as release documents were being prepared.
Lasso claimed the ruling caught the government off guard. “This order suddenly appeared in the Automatic System of Ecuadorian Judicial Processing today, appended to a case involving another prisoner, without prior notice,” the president said. “Representatives of the attorney general’s office were not notified and were not offered the opportunity to respond.”
Glas is serving concurrent six-year sentences for illegal association and enrichment while Salcedo was sentenced to 13 years for defrauding the government in the sale of medical supplies to public and social security hospitals.
In April, Glas was granted habeas corpus and released from the Latacunga Penitentiary by a Santa Elena Province judge. The order was later overruled by the Constitutional Court and he was returned to prison in Quito.
Glas served as vice president from 2013 to 2017 in the Rafael Correa administration.
Ashfall reported near Sangay volcano
The Risk Management Service reported Monday that “light quatities of ash” was falling to the northwest of the Sangay volcano, affecting parts of Chimborazo and Bolivar Provinces. “All interests in the affected area should remain alert as the volcano has entered a new eruptive stage,” the service said. “We do not expect intensification but it cannot be ruled out.”
Sangay, which has been active for more than 20 years, erupted most recently on Saturday, July 30. The volcano is located in Morona Santiago Province, 137 kilometers northeast of Cuenca.
94% of vehicles use subsidized fuels
Petroecuador reported Monday that nearly 94% of vehicles in Ecuador use subsidized fuel, with 65% of those using Extra and Ecopais gasoline and 35% using diesel. Only 6% of all vehicles use the 92-octate Super gasoline that sells at market prices.
“These numbers indicate the extent of the subsidies that Ecuador provides motorists, many of whom do not need them,” said Government Minister Francisco Jiménez, who is leading talks with indigenous groups that could result in targeting subsidies to the poor and “critical” economic sectors. “These subsidies represent a huge burden on the national budget and we hope we can come to an agreement to allow some of these funds to be reallocated to social services, education and infrastructure.”
The cost to motorists for Extra and Ecopais gasoline is $2.40 a gallon while diesel, used primarily for buses and trucks, costs $1.75. Super currently sells for $5.20 a gallon.
Group warns of increase of illegal mining
The Andean Amazon Monitoring Project warned last week that an “alarming” increase in illegal mining activity in Napo Province is underway and called on the government apply stronger measures to stop it. In a report, MAAP says that the area of unauthorized mining in the provinces has increased 210% in 24 years, from 2.6 hectares in 1996 to 557 hectares today. “The major acceleration of activity within Napo took place primarily in the 2016-2020 period,” it said.
The trend continued in 2021 and early 2022, MAAP said, citing drone and satellite photographic evidence, adding that at least 10% of the expansion is occurring in protected natural areas, including the Colonso Chalupas Biological Reserve.
“We call on the government to increase law enforcement operations in Napo to protect local population and the environment from the impact of mining,” the MAAP’s report said. “Water sources and farming areas adjacent to the mines are being polluted, posing health risks to the largely indigenous communities.”