Informal vendor complaints grow near 9th de Octubre market; Thieves, ‘vaccinator’ beaten by residents; High winds affect flights, damage property
Although Cuenca Citizen Guard have conducted at least three operations to remove informal vendors in the area of Nueve de Octobre mercado and Rotary Plaza, the sellers return. That’s the complaint of store owners and registered vendors who pay rent at Nueve de Octobre.
“It is good that they make them move but it does no good unless they come back and continue to enforce the rules,” says bakery owner David Girola. “Lack of enforcement is the problem as it is with many things in Cuenca.”
Girola and other owners and residents in the area say informal vendors set up tables and umbrellas along Calles Mariano Cueva, Sangurima, Lamar and Vega Muñoz, often blocking sidewalks and even street lanes. “People have to walk into the street to move around them and a least two people have been hit by cars as a result,” Girola says.
Another problem, owners and resident say, are that the informal sales sites attract thieves. The Community Police Unit says it receives 20 reports a week of theft, mostly of cell phones and women’s purses, on Sangurima alone. “With people crowding around the sidewalks sellers, it’s easy for pickpockets to steal,” says Luis Tello, who operates an electronics parts shop on Sangurima.
Tello says the thieves have threatened to extort money from him on several occasions, but he says he refuses to pay. “I’ve set up a video system to watch for thieves and vaccinators and I know who to call for help if I see them,” he says, adding that a man was caught and beaten last week when he tried to steal a cell phone from a store next door.
The Cuenca Mayor’s office says it will apply more resources to the area soon, saying it is currently working the streets around the Feria Libre market. “We are aware of the problems with blocked sidewalks and thefts,” says Ramiro Lana of the Citizen Guard. “We are also concerned about the danger to pedestrians and to the tram that passes the informal sales locations.”
Thieves, ‘vaccinator’ beaten by residents
Two men suspected of robbing a south Cuenca tienda were detained and beaten and their motorcycle set on fire Thursday. After they left the Av. Loja store, the men were surrounded by a group of at least nine neighborhood residents and forced to turn over cash allegedly stolen before they were attacked. Police arrived within minutes and took the men into custody.
On Friday, a suspected “vaccinator” was captured by residents on Av. Don Bosco and beaten. According to residents, the man had threatened at least three small businesses in the area if they did pay him for “protection services.” According to police, who took the man into custody, the man was beaten and his motorcycle destroyed.
High winds affect flights, damage property
Authorities at Quito’s Mariscal Sucre Airport say most flights are departing and arriving on time despite high winds. Arriving passengers have complained of rough landings since early last week and several flights have been delayed as a result of wind.
At least two flights to Quito, one from Guayaquil and another from Cuenca, were temporarily diverted as a result of high winds, Latam Airlines says. An airport spokesman said that wind speed is “monitored on a constant basis” and no landings or take-offs will occur under dangerous conditions.
Over the weekend, the National Meteorology Institute (Inamhi) reported winds of 70 to 75 kilometers per hour throughout the northern inter-Andean valley say and winds will continue in the coming days. Several houses and vehicles sustained damage Friday and Saturday as a result of falling trees and power polls, according to the Quito fire department.
Boa constrictors invade Guayaquil
Officials are warning Guayaquil residents to be on alert for boa constrictors. Although the snake is native to the coastal region of Ecuador, recent rains have forced many of them from their native habitat into residential areas. More than a dozen boas have been removed from homes in western and northern Guayaquil in recent weeks, the fire department reports, while seven have been found in nearby Durán.
Boa constrictors can grow to a length of nine meters but the largest removed by authorities in Guayaquil measured 5 meters.