Interior minister and Turi prison director resign following riots; Credit card use down sharply; Swiss expat threatens to bomb prosecutor’s office

Mar 6, 2021

Ecuador Interior Minister Patricio Pazmiño has resigned following deadly prison riots that left 80 dead on February 23, citing “personal reasons” but also complaining about “unfair accusations” made about police and prison officials. In his resignation letter to President Lenín Moreno, Pazmiño said he welcomed a full investigation of the riots but only if it were conducted by professionals from outside the government.

The Turi prison, south of Cuenca, houses 2,800 inmates.

On Saturday, Moreno appointed Gabriel Martinez as Pazmiño’s replacement.

Also on Friday, the director of the Turi Social Rehabilitation Center, Rómulo Montalvo, announced his resignation. In a press conference, Montalvo said that the prison “totally secure” and that order had been restored as he stepped down. He said that assistant director Polivio Aymar is currently in charge of the facility.

During Montalvo’s 11-month tenure at Turi, confrontations between inmates occurred frequently, including those that led to 34 deaths on February 23. In June, eight inmates tried to escape after breaking window bars and using sheets as ladders. Although they were captured before they escaped prison grounds, Montalvo was criticized for claiming that Turi was “escape-proof.” He also faced complaints from prisoners that they lacked protection against the coronavirus.

Credit card use down sharply during pandemic
The Superintendency of Banks reports a steep drop in credit card use in 2020 compared to 2019, blaming the decline on the Covid-19 pandemic. Purchases using credit cards issued by Ecuadorian banks were down 28 percent year-over-year while cash advances dropped 45 percent. The Superintendency also reports that credit card delinquencies are up 22 percent from 2019 and that a record number of cardholders have made special arrangement with banks to repay their debts over an extended period.

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Schnorf Giorgio Jakob

Swiss citizen threatens to blow up local prosecutor’s office
The National Police have jailed Schnorf Giorgio Jakob of Switzerland for threatening to blow up the Azuay Province prosecutor’s office on Paucarbamba Avenue. Police evacuated the building Friday afternoon believing that Jakob, a Cuenca resident, had planted a bomb but later said he had only delivered a threat. According to reports, Jakob began shouting as he was read charges against him in another criminal case before making the bomb threat.

Volcano ash warning
The Geophysical Institute warned on Saturday of possible ash fall from the Sangay volcano for Chimborazo Province. According to the satellite images, a Friday afternoon eruption was sending ash and gas clouds to the west. The institute warned that several populated areas were in the path of the ash. It also reported that lahars were sending large amounts of debris down the flanks of the volcano.

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