NEWS WRAP: May Day marches attract thousands; Quito volcano reactivates: Oil firms won’t drill; Football team in the dumps

May 2, 2015

Two May Day marches attract thousands in Cuenca

Those opposed to government policies gathered in Parque Calderon.

Those opposed to government policies gathered in Parque Calderon.

Although Friday’s two May Day marches and rallies were touted as a pro- vs. anti-Correa contest, it was often hard to tell the difference in the two sides, as members of both camps mixed with members of the other camp. According to a police captain in Parque Calderon, where those opposing government policies gathered, the anti-Correa side outnumbered the pro-Correa side by about two to one. Altogether, he estimated that 5,000 to 7.000 turned out for the day’s activities. About 800 police were on hand to keep the peace, although there were no major incidents.

The Pichincha, near Quito, volcano erupted in 1999.

The Pichincha, near Quito, volcano erupted in 1999.

Quito volcano shows increased activity

After lying dormant for 15 years, the Guagua Pichincha volcano, 15 miles west of Quito, is showing signs of life. Ecuador’s Geophysical Institute has recorded an increasing number of small earth tremors at the volcano and says that a magma dome is rising. Although the Institute said an eruption is not eminent, it could happen in the coming months. The last eruption, in 1999, dropped two to three inches of ash and rock on Quito, bringing the city to a standstill. It also grounded all air traffic in the country for four days. The 1999 eruption was short-lived compared to a 1660 eruption that buried Quito, then a village of 2,000, in more than three feet of ash. To read more, click here.

Ecuador calls off child beauty pageant

The government has cancelled a child beauty pageant that had been scheduled for May 31. The move followed protests by women’s organizations that complained the pageants treat young girls as sex objects. The National Council for Intergenerational Equality and the Public Ombudsman agreed, with the ombudsman saying that the Niña Ecuador competition could lead not only to sexual exploitation but was a case of child labor. To read more, click here.

Crudo Ecuador founder talks to the New York Times

Gabriel González tell his story of why he started his satirical Crudo Ecuador Facebook page, and the effect President Rafael Correa’s effort to shut him down had on his personal life. Once he was attacked by the president, he says he received death threats, and decided to discontinue the site. Gonzalez says he is a “normal person,” not someone out to destabilize the government. He says Correa’s actions are an attack on free speech. To read more, click here.

Cuenca’s football team, Deportivo Cuenca, hits a new low

Dejected Cuenca players walk off the pitch Wednesday night.

Dejected Cuenca players walk off the pitch Wednesday night.

Only three four ago, Deportivo Cuenca, the city’s professional football team, was in the hunt for the national championship for most of the season. The year before, they lost the championship on a last minute goal. Today, the Southern Express, as it is known, is mired in last place in league standings, the players accused of playing drunk or on drugs, and not having the will to win. Even a new coach has not been able to turn the program around and, on Wednesday night, the team was routed at home by defending national champion, Guayaquil Emelec, 4 – 0. To read more, click here.

Foreign oil producers decide not to drill exploratory wells

Andes Petroleum Ecuador Ltd. and Repsol SA, Ecuador’s two biggest foreign oil producers, are shelving plans to drill exploratory wells amid a payment dispute with the Ecuador’s government, insiders say. Andes, owned by China National Petroleum Corp. and China Petrochemical Corp., and Madrid-based Repsol have notified Halliburton Co. that they plan to freeze their drilling contracts this year, said two people who asked not to be named because the matter hasn’t been made public. The timing for Ecuador could not be worse, as it desperately needs to be in a strong production position when prices finally rise. To read more, click here.

New Cuenca clothing fashion looks to indigenous influences

Cuenca fashion.

Cuenca fashion.

Considered Ecuador’s fashion design center, Cuenca clothes designs are looking to the past for inspiration. Many of the city’s designers are borrowing motifs from the craftspeople of Saraguro, Otavalo, Sigsig and Zuleta, even from pre-Columbian pottery. The look, texture and color of indigenous communities provide a wealth of new ideas, according to the designers. To read more, click here.

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