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New shopping option as Supermaxi closes, Update on an expat murder, A mayor out of his league, ‘White Trash’ special

Residents of the historic district have a new grocery shopping option. SuperAki, which is part of the company that owns Supermaxi, opened in November a full month ahead of schedule –won’t wonders never cease!– at the corner of Arizaga and Tarqui.

For those who live in the historic district and prefer to shop local, the new store is a great addition. It’s also good news for those who live on the west and north side of the district since the other large supermarkets, Santa Cecilia and Coral, are on the east side. Besides that, the new store may come in handy for customers of the El Vergel Supermaxi that closes Monday for renovations (for four months, they tell me) .

For the record, the new SuperAki is a little smaller than the local Supermaxis, as is its selection, but it has all the essentials. One thing you won’t find there are lots of expats – I’ve seen a few but most of them are young, in their 20s and 30s.

A mayor out of his league

In a poll conducted last week by the El Mercuro newspaper, 76 percent of 4,670 respondents rated Mayor Pedro Palacios’ job performance as bad or very bad. By way of explanation, one political pundit says, “There just doesn’t seem to be much going on at city hall.”

The Super Aki on Arizaga at Tarqui is new and shiny and has most of the essentials.

In general, complaints against the mayor include lack of leadership, poor communication and failure to follow through on campaign promises. Specifically, he is accused of delaying the tram project, poor maintenance of city parks and plazas and being absent during the October protests.

His shit fit two weeks ago over a concert performance in San Francisco Plaza that criticized the government’s handling of the protests and the subsequent firing of the cultural affairs director didn’t help either. “When he finally took a strong, public stand it was to establish himself as a censor of the arts,” the pundit says. “Had he just let the thing go there would have been no controversy and no loss of dignity.”

Mayor Pedro Palacios

Another mayoral critic, a former city commissioner, says Palacios is a good guy out of his element. “He was a competent business manager who thought he could run the city the same way he ran his company,” the ex-commissioner says. “Another issue is that he gets bad advice from his advisors, who include his brother and a fellow from Quito with no previous experience in the public sector.”

Among the bad advice the mayor’s received, the ex-commissioner says, is to push a partnership between the Virgin Mary and the city. “In the halls of the alcaldia, they are already calling it Madre Cuenca and Mama Cuenca, and if this goes public we’ll become the laughing stock of Ecuador.”

Update on an expat murder

A friend in my pilates class offered an update on the tragic December murder of expat Nancy Thalmann.

According to the police report shared with the residents of the Colinas Challuabamba development in northeast of Cuenca, the Venezuelan suspect was attempting to rob a bedroom safe when Nancy surprised him. During the ensuing struggle, she fell backward gashing her head on furniture as she hit the floor. In his confession, the suspect says he strangled her to stop her cries for help and then taped her mouth and nose shut with duct tape.

Based on the initial police briefing, news media reported that the cause of death was strangulation but that she was found in a pool of blood, which seemed inconsistent with strangulation. The suspect, who was caught at the Peruvian border as he tried to leave the country, worked as a gardener for Nancy and her husband.

Check out the gringo specials at White Trash.
Venezuelan beggar kids are not drugged, police say

The National Police have concluded that the Venezuelan children lying beside begging adults on Cuenca and Quito sidewalks are not drugged. The story that they were was widespread on talk radio and social media, prompting the investigation.

Police did discover, however, that children are often shared and occasionally rented among Venezuelans. They also report that children are coached to look pitiful and hungry. Speaking of coaching, the police say the beggars are coached by other Venezuelans who supply them with lollipops and Bolivars, the worthless Venezuelan currency.

Deal of the month down at White Trash

White Trash Tattoos on Gaspar Sangurima is offering a gringo special for the month of February. For $75, you can get a full color likeness of a 1974 Fleetwood mobile home, Georgia Peach edition, penned on your shoulder. But wait, there’s more! They’ll also inscribe you with a Confederate flag for the same price. If you want either image on your thigh, it will set you back another $15.