Lasso declares crime emergency in three provinces; Cuenca-Guayaquil flights begin in July; Catholic bishops blast abortion law; LP gas is rationed
As a result of rising crime levels, President Guillermo Lasso has decreed a state of emergency in Guayas, Manabí and Esmeraldas Provinces. The order allows the use of military troops to combat what Lasso calls “a plague of illegal drug violence” and to reassign police to the three provinces.
Lasso said that 4,000 additional police and 5,000 military personnel will be posted in areas covered by the emergency.
“The decree will not affect day to day activities for most citizens but will concentrate on the neighborhoods with the highest crimes rates,” he said. The focus of law enforcement efforts will be in the cantons of Esmeraldas, Eloy Alfaro. Durán, Ximena and Pascuales and Guayaquil, he added.
Church will fight abortion law and poverty
The Catholic Church vowed Friday to fight Ecuador’s new law allowing abortion in the case of rape. “We will fight the law with total fervor and devotion to Christian principles,” the national Episcopal Conference of bishops said. “All human life is sacred and we will take our case to the courts and to the people.”
The new abortion law went into effect Friday after substantial changes by President Guillermo Lasso which shortened the time in which some abortions will be allowed and requiring additional court oversight for abortion approvals.
In its statement, the Conference claims that the new law creates “a culture of death that imposes laws that have nothing to do with the values of Ecuadorian society.”
In addition to abortion, the bishops said they are “extremely alarmed by the growing wave of poverty, violence and insecurity” in Ecuador. “We are in a political and institutional crisis, manifested in the power struggle and ethical and legal vacuum created by our leaders. We will take these issues to the people in the interest of creating a just and decent society.”
Cuenca-Guayaquil flights to begin in July
Transportation Minister Marcelo Cabrera said Friday that LatAm airlines will begin service between Guayaquil and Cuenca beginning July. The airline will operate five weekly flights between the two cities.
“Earlier efforts to provide this flight connection have failed for a variety of reasons, including reduced passenger demand during the pandemic,” Cabrera said. “We believe this new effort will be successful given LatAm’s experience and understanding of the market.”
According to Cabrera, the Cuenca-Guayaquil flights are part of LatAm’s plan to increase domestic operations in Ecuador. The airline also plans to increase the number of flights between Loja and Quito, Manta and Quito, Guayaquil and San San Cristóbal, Galapagos, and Quito and Bogotá, Colombia.
LatAm currently provides service between Cuenca and Quito.
Gas shortage limits deliveries
Cuenca distributors of LP gas say reduced deliveries from Guayaquil are requiring the rationing of deliveries to residential and business customers. Gerardo Maldonado, the manager of Austrogas, confirmed the shortage and said that his plant is also running low on gas canisters. “The shortage has been building for several weeks due to transport issues and many of our contractors who make deliveries have been forced to limit the number of tanks on a per residence basis.”
In addition to reduced gas supply, Maldonado said that the number of delivery services has been dropping in recent months. “The profit margin is very low and some of the contractors have left the market to look for other employment,” he said.
Although gas deliverer Juan Cárdenas remains in the business, he says he is considering quitting. “Beside the cost of the gas, $1.55 a tank, I am only allowed to charge $1.60 for delivery and this barely covers my costs,” he says. “I have to provide storage, maintain two trucks and pay four employees, so I am thinking closing the shop.”
Cárdenas said he is limiting residential customers to two gas canisters per delivery, as a result of the gas shortage. “This means I can make even less money than before,” he says, “and it makes my customers angry.”