Moreno to convert UNASUR to a university, 76% of Cuenca buses are obsolete, Moreno’s popularity slides, More foreign investment

Jul 9, 2018

76% of Cuenca buses exceed their useful life spans

Cuenca’s municipal council is giving operators of the city’s public buses 21 months to replace all units that have outlived their useful life span. That includes 76 percent of all buses in service today, according to a consultant’s study. Of the fleet of 475, according to the study, 104 buses were manufactured in 2002, 155 in 2003 and 101 in 2004. “All of these are beyond the stage of useful service and, because of this, they present safety hazards and are the main cause of air pollution in the city,” says city councilman Xavier Barrera, one of the sponsors of the order to renew the fleet. The city says bus fare will increase to 30 cents from the current 25 cents in August or September but some bus operators are pushing for a higher rate.

UNASUR headquarters could become indigenous university

President Lenin Moreno’s proposal to convert the headquarters of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), north of Quito, into a university for indigenous studies is drawing both praise and criticism.

UNASUR headquarters north of Quito.

Originally created as a South American alternative to the U.S.-dominated Organization of American States, construction of the sprawling UNASUR headquarters at the equator was a project of former president Rafael Correa. Today, however, the organization is bankrupt following the decision by a number of countries, including Colombia, Argentina, Brazil and Peru, to withdraw their support. Moreno says using the space for a new Intercultural University of Nationalities and Indigenous Peoples, or Amawtay Wasi, will support indigenous traditions in the Andes.

Moreno’s plan has been praised by Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (Conaie) president Jaime Vargas as a way to “restore the culture and language of indigenous people.” Former president Rafael Correa, on the other hand, has attacked the plan, asking, “Will the indigenous movement will be an accomplice in the destruction of UNASUR? I can not believe it!”

Moreno’s popularity drops to 45.9%

Ecuador polling organization Cedatos-Gallup reports that President Lenin Moreno popularity stood at 45.9 percent at the end of June. The latest approval rating is part of  a continuing slide for the president, whose popularity stood at 77 percent shortly after his election last May. According to the 1,920 people surveyed by Cedatos, economic problems weighs heavily on Moreno’s numbers, particularly the national debt and the high cost of living. Despite his dropping popularity, Cedatos notes that Moreno still ranks among the five most popular presidents in Latin America.

Foreign investment up 21% in first quarter

In the first quarter of 2018, Ecuador received $ 223.6 million in international investment, up 21 percent from the same period of 2017. According to Ecuador’s Central Bank, the largest investments came from the Netherlands, the U.S. and Venezuela. In a statement, the Bank said that the increased investment is “a clear indication that Ecuador’s economy is on the right path.”

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