NEWS WRAP: Cuenca water wars; Jet Blue to join Ecuador market as American expands capacity; New Skype service; Drunks may clean parks
Cuenca water wars aren’t over yet
The city of Cuenca announced last week that it would raise water bills from 20% to 100%, citing the fact that rates have not changed in 14 years. Mayor Marcelo Cabrera said that even with the new rates, Cuenca water was a bargain. “It’s still less expensive than in Guayaquil and it’s the best water in Ecuador,” he said. As protests mounted against the new rates, the city announced on Thursday that it was reviewing the increases and may lower them for small users.
Skype offers new translation service
The VOIP communication company Skype announced this week that is offering a real-time video chat and instant messaging translation service to all users in 50 languages. The service had previously been in test mode and only available to a limited number of users, and only in English, Spanish, Italian and Mandarin. Skype Translator is available for download from Windows Store, for computers and tablets running the latest Microsoft operating system.
Ecuador returns to bond market with a 10.5% premium offer
Ecuador is tempting investors with a generous premium of 10.5% on a new issue of 2020 bonds. It is the country’s second international bond issue this year. The bond tap comes on the back of a rally in the 2020s alongside a recovery in crude prices. Per barrel oil prices had fallen below $40 in February but have since risen to about $60, strengthening the country’s financial outlook for 2015. Ecuador says it decided to go with the five year bond due to a preference by investors in the current market environment.
Sweden denies Julian Assange appeal to drop sex assault charges
It looks like WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange will continue his status as a couch potato in Ecuador’s London Embassy. The Swedish Supreme Court this week denied his latest appeal to dismiss a warrant for allegations of sexual assault. Assange and Ecuador say the assault charges are trumped up, intended to allow his arrest by U.S. authorities for leaking confidential documents.
American Airlines expanding Ecuador Service; Jet Blue jumps into market
American Airlines is increasing the number of seats on its Miami-to-Quito routes. It currently offers two daily flights on Boeing 757 aircraft with a capacity of 160 seats. Beginning next month, it will use the Boeing 767, which has a capacity of 218 seats. Meanwhile, JetBlue Airways has announced it plans to start once-daily nonstop service between Fort Lauderdale and Quito in early 2016. One reason the airline cited for the new route is the fact that 10,000 Ecuadorians live in the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood, Florida area.
Cuenca may put drunks to work cleaning up city parks
The Cuenca Safety Commission is forwarding a proposal to the city council that would put drunks and loiterers to work cleaning up parks and other public areas if they are unable to pay a fine of 50% of the basic salary. According to the Safety Commission, the spirit of the ordinance is not to punish, but to clean and recover public spaces.