Due to the danger of a landslide, about 60 of the 90 families living in the La Cría community southwest of Santa Isabel have relocated, according to Azuay Province Governor Matias Abad. Trucks were seen throughout the weekend in the area, moving furniture and other household items from homes in the area.
Early Friday, the Risk Management Secretariat issued a “yellow alert” for 525 hectares that encompass almost all of La Cría, including the school and community center. In recent weeks, large fissures have opened in the area, some of them damaging homes and other structures.
“People are paying attention to our warnings,” Abad said. “They have seen the tragedy in Alausí and understand what can happen if they ignore the warnings.”
On Sunday, some of those who left their homes earlier returned to tend to their livestock and gardens. “We cannot abandon our animals and crops and will come back during the day,” resident María Quizhpe said. “If a landslide begins, we will hear it and have time to leave but we cannot stay here at night since we might be asleep when it happens.”
Quizhpe added that her animals are making a lot of noise. “They can feel the ground moving and are scared but we have no place to take them. We have asked the mayor to help us.”
According to Abad and Santa Isabel Mayor Ernesto Guerrero, most La Cría residents who have left are staying with family and friends in Santa Isabel and Cuenca although two shelters have been set up for those with no place to go.
VP Borrero pledges support for Lasso
In an interview, Vice President Alfredo Borrero says he “stands firmly with the president” as the impeachment trial of President Guillermo Lasso begins in the National Assembly.
“Yes, I am aware that some say I would join his opponents if he is removed from office but I say they will be disappointed,” Borrero said in response to a question suggesting he has political sympathies for those pushing impeachment. “I support the president’s agenda and, more important, I am his friend.”
In an interview with Quito newspaper La Hora, Borrero accused Lasso’s opponents of attempting to seize power by “storm and slander” and insists there is insufficient evidence for impeachment. “I expect to continue in my role as vice president where I put the health and well-being of the Ecuadorian people above all else,” adding that his career as a doctor allows him to remain focused on the country’s healthcare problems.”
Borrero said “has never and will never” talk to the opponents of the government. “The rumors of some kind of secret pact are bogus and part of the systematic attack to destroy the president’s credibility,” he said. “I am concerned that that political instability created by impeachment is hurting our ability to effectively react to the natural disasters and gang violence affecting the country.”
He added: “We are suffering from flooding on the coast and an earthquake and a landslide in the south and our attention should be focused on helping the victims,” he said. “In my hometown of Cuenca, highways have been destroyed by rains and landslides and people are expecting the government to provide relief and find solutions.”
Suspected ‘vaccinators’ found dead by Rio Tomebamba
Police say two men found dead beside the Rio Tomebamba Friday were suspects in recent extortion attempts of businesses near the Feria Libre market. “We had questioned them following complaints that they had threatened business owners if they did not pay protection money,” a police captain said at the scene. “It looks like private citizens took the law into their own hands in this case.”
The men, believed to be Venezuelans about 25 years of age, had been stabbed and strangled and had messages taped to their bodies reading, “Vaccinators and extortionists will not be allowed in Cuenca,” and “All vaccinators will be caught and suffer the same ending.”
The bodies were discovered by residents of a neighborhood adjacent to the Hospital del Río. Police say the bodies had been dropped at the site only hours earlier.