‘Most wanted’ murder suspect extradited to Ecuador; Road instability, snow and ice snarl traffic on Cajas highway; Ecuador’s largest companies and banks

Jan 4, 2023 | 51 comments

The chief suspect in one of Ecuador’s most notorious murder cases is back in the country and behind bars in a Guayaquil prison. Germán Cáceres arrived in Ecuador Tuesday morning aboard a Colombian military aircraft following his extradition on charges for the September killing of his wife María Belén Bernal.

President Guillermo Lasso had called Cáceres “Ecuador’s most wanted man,” claiming he had committed the most “horrendous murder in recent memory.”

Cáceres, an instructor at a Quito police training academy is believed to have murdered Beranl at the academy after she confronted him over an extramarital affair on the night of September 11. According to investigators, Cáceres is believed to have taken Bernal’s body off academy property, burning and partially burying her in a nearby ravine.

Llamas in Cajas National Park on a snowy Tuesday morning.

Following the alleged murder, Cáceres fled to Colombia. Through a joint operation by Colombian and Ecuadorian police and the international police agency Interpol, Cáceres was located in the Caribbean coastal community of Palomino, where he worked as a bartender.

Within a week of Bernal’s murder, Ecuadorian police arrested a police cadet and another trainer at the academy, charging them with being accessories to the murder. The cadet admitted to having an affair with Cáceres.

Road instability, ice and snow snarl traffic on the Cajas highway
Delays of up to two hours were reported Tuesday on the highway through the Cajas Mountains due to instability of the kilometer 49 bypass at Molleturo. Transportation officials said they are considering rerouting inter-provincial buses due to concerns about their weight. The alternate route to the coast would be the Zhud-La Troncal highway in Cañar Province

On Tuesday, transit police required bus passengers to deboard and walk past an unstable point on the roadway and reboard on the opposite side.

Tuesday travel was also slowed by snow and ice on the highway in Cajas National Park. Snowfall of as much as 18 centimeters (7 inches) was reported near Tres Cruces, on the west side of the park. Police said the highway ice had melted by early afternoon.

Ecuador’s largest companies and banks
The ranking of Ecuador’s top two corporations remained unchanged in 2022 over 2021, according to the Superintendence of Companies, Securities and Insurance. Among the country’s banks, however, the publicly owned Banco Pacific moved to second position in terms of profits, the Central Bank reports.

For the fourth consecutive year, supermarket giant Corporación Favorita heads the list of Ecuador companies, generating $2.178 billion in annual revenue. Favorita operates Supermaxi, Megamaxi and Super Aki as well as other retail chains.

Corporación El Rosado, owner and operator of the El Paso and Rio Centro shopping malls and a dozen retail chains, including Hiper Market, Mi Comisariato and Mi Panaderia, was second in revenue with $1.294 billion. El Rosado also operates the Supercines movie theaters and international restaurant franchises iHop, Red Lobster, Chili’s and Carl’s Jr.

Shrimp producer and exporter Industrial Pesquera Santa Priscila ranked third among companies with $1.043 billion in revenue, replacing Consorcio Ecuatoriano de Telecomunicaciones, Claro cell operator.

Among banks, Banco Pichincha remains the country’s largest in terms of profits and reserves, followed by Banco Pacifico and Banco Guayaquil. Pichincha reported $137 million in profit in 2022 followed by $100 million for Pacifico and $95 million for Guayaquil. Cuenca-based Banco del Astro ranked 10th with $10.4 million in profits.

In total, Ecuador banks showed $27.6 billion in assets at the end of 2022, a record growth of 20% over 2021.