More than 3,500 homes flooded in Esmeraldas; Major Quito newspaper ends publication; Pachakutik and Creo won’t have presidential candidates

Jun 7, 2023 | 4 comments

The magnitude of the weekend floods in Esmeraldas continues to grow as more rain fell on the area Tuesday. “This is a disaster of almost unimaginable dimensions, affecting thousands and thousands of families,” President Guillermo Lasso said Monday following a helicopter fly-over of flooded communities.

Lasso said that “all government resources” would be used to assist flood victims and ordered the national Emergency Operations Committee to “apply all its attention” to rescue and recovery efforts in the disaster zone.

On Tuesday night, the national Risk Management office said that at least 3,700 homes have been flooded, many of the completely submerged by flood waters from six overflowing rivers. It estimated that about 15,000 people have been affected by flooding. Almost 1,000 people have been rescued by boat and helicopter, most of them from rooftops, since Sunday.

An Esmeraldas couple wade through a flooded street on Monday.

“Our work has been complicated by continuing rain and the forecast is for rain to continue at least until the weekend,” said regional Risk Management Director Cristian Torres. “Flood levels in the rivers have not dropped, making it difficult to make a full assessment of the situation.”

He added that many essential services, such as electric and potable water delivery have been disrupted. “There has been serious damage to the utility infrastructure and we are unable to make repairs.” In addition to damage to utilities, Torres reports that 21 schools and 7 health clinics have suffered major damage.

Although the most extensive damage has been reported in the city of Esmeraldas, Torres says that a wide area of Esmeraldas Province has been affected, including Atacames, Teaone, Cube, Viche, Blanco and Quinindé.

Pachakutik and Creo won’t have presidential candidates
In a major surprise, the Pachakutik and Creo (Creating Opportunities Movement) political parties announced Tuesday they will not have a presidential candidate in the August cross death election. Both said they will focus on the 2025 full-term elections.

According to Cecilia Velasque, Pachakutik National Deputy Coordinator, the short election schedule does not allow enough time to fully evaluate prospective candidates. Although former National Assemblyman Salvador Quishpe was widely expected to be named the PK candidate, Velasque said there was not sufficient for him to meet party evaluation requirements.

According to an unnamed member of the PK electoral tribunal, the conflict between Quishpe and Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities President Leonidas Iza was a major factor in the no-candidate decision. She added that the strong support among indigenous people for Yaku Perez, who is not aligned with Conaie or PK, was also a factor.

In its announcement, Creo’s said it will focus its “energy and resources” on the 2025 election. “We are looking at the short term of the cross death election as a waiting period and do not see an advantage of being involved,” said Creo Party Coordinator Esteban Bernal. “We will redouble our efforts with an eye on the full term in two years,” he said.

Creo is the party of President Guillermo Lasso who announced last week he will not be a candidate in the October election.

Major Quito newspaper ends publication
One of Ecuador’s largest and oldest newspapers announced Tuesday it is ending publication. Quito-based El Comercio, which was established in 1906, said that “financial considerations” prompted the decision, conceding that the era of printed newspapers in coming to an end.

El Comercio said it would maintain its news website but many of its employees, who ended a five-day strike Monday, say the digital service may cease operations soon as well. On Friday, the newspaper fired more than 100 print production employees.

El Comercio is the second major Quito newspaper to close within the last decade. Hoy, which had challenged El Comercio for dominance in the local news market for 60 years, ended publication in 2015.

The El Comercio employees union is suing newspaper ownership, claiming many employees have not been fully paid for months and that the newspaper has failed to make payments to the Social Security system.

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