No mask, no bus ride; Cuenca-to-Quito flights resume; Old corruption cases reexamined; Plaza reopenings delayed by lack of Covid-19 testing

Jun 3, 2020 | 9 comments

Martes, 2/6/2020

Hola, Todos –

Actividades –
No hay nada.

Otras cosas –

Titular – Diez mil alumnos no tienen internet (Ten thousand students do not have internet) – About 21,000 students in Azuay started classes yesterday under the regimen of the coast and Galápagos. The Ministerio started the 2020-2021 school year with a video showing students studying via computers. But these images are far from reality where just in Azuay and Cañar, more than 10,000 families have neither computers nor internet. Of the 50,000 students on the coast, 30% do not have computers. It isn’t clear if the normal Sierra-Amazonía school year will start in classes or on line.

Bus service – No mask, no ride. If you don’t use a mask, you will not be allowed on the bus. EMOV intensified controls to see that buses comply with all preventive measures to avoid spreading coronavirus. The 475 urban buses on 35 lines started operating yesterday at 50% capacity. <Has any of you seen a bus go by with more than a handful of people? Either no one has anywhere to go or everyone’s being cautious.> 6 fumigation and disinfection stations have been installed. EMOV will strengthen controls to see that preventive measures are taken. A virologist pointed out that buses are a principal source of infections with lots of people enclosed in a small space so that any disregard or non-observance of recommendations could be another case of coronavirus.
The Tranvía is also circulating from 6-20:00 for free. This is part of the phase of educating the public before commercial service starts later this year.

Air travel – Aeroregional will resume operations este viernes between Cuenca and Quito. LATAM will start on 15/6. TAME has entered liquidation proceedings. <Actually, that airline was ready for liquidation several years ago.>

The Paute-Guarumales-Méndez highway, a major route to the Amazon from Cuenca, was closed Monday due to large slides. (El Mercurio)

Anti-corruption task force – The Fiscalía General (Attorney General), Diana Salazar, annnounced the creation of a new multi-disciplinary task force to combat corruption that has been reported during this health emergency. She admitted that in the past, many reports of corruption were filed away without anything being done. To avoid that result for the 45 cases opened during the health emergency, she created a Fuerza de Tarea (Task Force) with over 40 people including prosecutors, unit coordinators and, in the next few days, police. Cases at different levels of government will be investigated by the Attorney General of Ecuador or by provincial prosecutors. In small provinces where the mayors or prefecto have more influence on the provincial prosecutor, the cases will be coordinated from Quito. There is one case in Azuay at the Vicente Corral Moscoso hospital. The most cases are in Guayas with 12. Salazar has asked the Ministerio del Gobierno to assemble a police unit specializing in these types of cases and bring in a public contracting expert and 2 financial analysts.

Strengthened police presence at Río Blanco – Saturday’s attack on 5 policemen was not the first time for mining related violence in the Río Blanco sector. In mayo de 2018, people armed with large caliber weapons subdued security guards and burned the mining camp. In julio de 2019, an anti-mining group attacked a police vehicle making a round in the zone and partially destroyed it. Saturday’s attack is being treated as a crime rather than an anti-mining protest. The community of San Felipe de Molleturo issued a statement that the occurence was a consequence of social division and interpersonal conflict provoked by mining. The community was engaged in a minga to clean water sources and páramos and had no responsibility for and nothing to do with what happened on el sábado.

Road blocked – The vía Paute-Guarumales-Méndez was closed yesterday due to large slides along the length of the route. The alternate route to get to the Oriente is the vía Gualaceo-Limón. Other routes where caution is needed is the vía Cuenca-Molleturo-Puerto Inca especially at km. 57.4, 69, 70, 71, 84, 88, y 91. There is also slide material on the vía Cuenca-Girón-Pasaje at km. 86.

Plazas reactivated – Plazas and mercados such as the plaza de las Flores, San Francisco, Rotary, y Santa Ana can open, but one of the requirements is a problem. Each merchant must show a certificate that he or she is free of coronavirus. In Cuenca, the PCR test costs $100 and the rapid test costs $35 which is an unsurmountable barrier to merchants on the verge of bankruptcy. The director of the Mercados has requested 4,000 tests for the merchants in the plazas, municipal commercial centers and mercados, but it can only do 20 tests per hour which means it would take at least 25 days including weekends to do all the tests.

The difficulty of complying with the requirements has caused merchants such as those in the Flower Market to wait another month to open. No one was open at the Rotary Plaza yesterday, but merchants were there to clean up and deal with surprises such as robberies, burned walls and lack of water at the drinking fountains which is also the merchants’ water source for cleaning. At the Plaza San Francisco, merchants had to deal with at least 200 day workers in the morning. In the afternoon, the situation became more insecure when the workers who were not hired started drinking. <And the building they used as a urinal got torn down in the remodeling, so what are they pissing on now?> The same thing happened at the Plaza Civica.

Emergency services – The demand for emergency services at the Vicente Corral Moscoso hospital increased in the last few days, causing the MSP to worry about the possibility of an increase in coronavirus cases due to relaxing the restrictions. The zone 6 health coordinator said that the hospitals in the region are prepared to take on COVID cases but the citizenry should not descuidar (neglect/ disregard – your word for the day) taking precautionary measures. In the last few days, ICU beds for critically ill virus patients were 90-100% occupied in Azuay, 75% in Cañar, and 33% in Morona Santiago. The respiratory triage areas of the two public hospitals has seen an increase of 5% in patients seen.

Mining impact – A study by the non-profit Alerta Minera Canadá warned about environmental damage, especially to water sources, due to the transfer of the infrastructure of the Loma Larga mine to Cuenca after the canton of Girón prohibited mining within its borders. INV then announced the transfer of the whole mine to Cuenca. INV plans to move the mine tailings and the treatment plant for toxic water to a site very near the Quinsacoha lakes which presents a large risk to the water sources for the whole city. Jorge Barreno, the managing director of INV denied that the mine is taking advantage of the health emergency to advance the construction and that the work being done is monitoring and information gathering. He also said the lakes are 5 km. away from the mine and 250 m. higher in elevation than the mine. <Doesn’t do Cuenca’s water quality any good if the water flows downhill through or past the mine and into our taps.>

And that’s all for today so Hasta ? –

Jeanne

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