Noboa to extend national emergency; Electric blackouts are over; Cross-border gold operation exposed; Correistas may end Assembly alliance

Feb 27, 2024 | 0 comments

President Daniel Noboa said Saturday he plans to extend the state of emergency for thirty days, beginning March 8 when the current declaration ends. “We must add the additional 30 days since we still have problems to solve,” he said. “We have made excellent progress fighting crime and terrorism in the first six weeks of operations but we need the continued assistance of the armed forces in this mission.”

With the extension, the state of emergency will end on April 7.

The Citizens Revolution bloc of the National Assembly will consider ending its alliance with the Social Christians and Democratic Action parties.

Deputy Minister of Government Esteban Torres said the extension is particularly important for maintaining control of the prisons. “Removing military personnel from the prisons would be disastrous after what has been achieved,” he said. “They will remain there, emergency or no emergency.”

Torres said popular support of the referendum question to allow the armed forces to back up police in arms control operations is essential. “With the approval of this proposal, the military will be able to apply permanent control over illegal weapons, both inside and outside of the prisons.”

Power blackouts are over
Ecuador’s Energy Ministry announced Friday that electric blackouts are over for the foreseeable future. In early January, the ministry said that blackouts would resume, if necessary, on March 1.

“The interruption of electrical service is no longer necessary due to improved conditions at the country’s hydroelectric facilities,” the ministry said. “Rains that began in December have refilled the reservoirs and the watersheds that supply the rivers near the reservoirs. All evidence suggests the drought is over.”

The ministry said hydroelectric plants are currently operating at 80% capacity, which is sufficient to satisfy the country’s electric needs. At the height of the drought, in November, the plants were operating at 40% capacity, with three of the largest generators in Azuay Province operating at less than 25% capacity.

In its statement, the ministry said that work is continuing to upgrade Ecuador’s electric generation capacity with the addition of thermal generation plants and improvements at existing facilities.

Correistas consider ending Assembly alliance
Following its failure last week to add a controversial measure to criminal code reform legislation in the National Assembly, the Citizens Revolution (RC) could decide Monday to end the mutual support pact with the National Democratic Action (ADN) and the Social Christian Party (PSC) parties. The delegation may also consider taking an official position against President Daniel Noboa’s referendum questions that go to voters in April.

“We thought they [PSC and ADN] were our allies but they turned against us last week and we need to reconsider who our friends are and who our enemies are,” says RC Assemblyman José Luis Vallejo. “We will evaluate the alliance with ADN and PSC and decide if it is in our interest to continue,” he said. “After three months, it is clear that we cannot count on their votes on important issues and they cannot count on ours.”

Citizens Revolution was angered when PSC and ADN opposed a crime bill measure that would have allowed an Assembly review of criminal investigations and convictions. PSC and ADN assembly members claimed it was an effort to reverse the corruption conviction of former president Rafael Correa and allow his return to Ecuador.

Several members of RC have also voiced opposition of Noboa’s 11-question referendum that goes to voters April 21 and today’s meeting will discuss adopting a formal position against the questions.

Illegally mined Peruvian gold is processed in Ecuador
According to Peruvian newspaper El Comercio, 100 tons of unprocessed rock and soil from illegal gold mines in Peru enter Ecuador every day. “On an average day, 12 large trucks travel Amazon back roads unmonitored by Peruvian and Ecuadorian officials,” the newspaper reports. “The trucks cover a route between Condorcanqui Province in Peru and Zamora Chinchipe Province in southern Ecuador,” the newspaper reports.

The Peruvian Directorate of Energy and Mines acknowledges the transfer of the raw material and says it is processed into gold ingots in Ecuador to be sold on international gold markets.

An employee of the Peruvian mining directorate who asked not to be identified, said the operation is a partnership between illegal miners in Peru and the Guayaquil-based Los Lobos gang. He added: “The mining gangs and Los Lobos control everything in northern Condorcanqui and the police are paid not to interfere.”

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