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Officials push back against claims of a crime wave, say murder and violent assault are down

Local and federal officials have agreed to work with a community group to reduce crime in Cuenca but some are disputing the claim that major crime is on the rise in the city.

Cuenca Mayor Pedro Palacios addresses a city crime forum last week. (El Telegrafo)

“Combating crime is always a worthy cause and we are happy to assist in this mission,” says Azuay Governor Xavier Martinez. “It is important, however, to use reliable statistics to assess the problem we face and not rely on hearsay.”

The Cuenca Citizen Assembly, made up of residents of city neighborhoods, has mounted a public campaign claiming that the number of murders and violent attacks on citizens is rising dramatically. They also say that Venezuelan and Colombian refugees are responsible for much of the crime wave. The Assembly staged a parade last week to publicize their complaints and are meeting with municipal and federal officials asking for more police officers.

According to Martinez, the number of murders and violent assaults have dropped in the first half of 2019 compared to the same period of 2018. “Today, Cuenca has the lowest murder rate in its history and one of the lowest in Latin America,” he says. “The rate is about three per 100,000, the same as in European countries and half that of the U.S. When we look at ways to fight crime it is important that we deal with facts.”

Police say they have dismantled 15 crime gangs so far in 2019 (El Mercurio).

National Police spokesman Santiago Correa debunked the claim that foreigners, primarily those from Venezuela and Colombia, are committing more crime. “There is no evidence of this,” he says. “The numbers in 2019 and very similar to those in 2018.”

Correa added that police are targeting crime gangs in the city, arresting the members of 15 gangs so far this year, some of them foreigners. “This is a success story that has gone unrecognized in the public misinformation that has been spread in recent weeks.”

Speaking at a crime forum Friday, Azuay Province prosecutor Leonardo Amoroso said there were areas in the city where crime rates remain high and where a greater police presence is needed. “In the district of the terminal terrestre the amount of crime is unacceptable as it is at El Arenal [Feria Libre] and we are taking measures to deal with it.”

Correa said that crime has increased in two categories: robberies and vehicle theft. “Robberies are up year-over-year but much of this is the result of new police reporting methods,” he said.

7 thoughts on “Officials push back against claims of a crime wave, say murder and violent assault are down

  1. So the govt opens the doors to let anyone in, and then the govt claims they are taking care of the problem. Typical.

    1. The point of the article is there is no problem, it least not a new one. Crime numbers have been going down for years despite the whining on social media. But hey, never let objective get in the away of irrational feelings.

      As for opening the doors, they let us in, didn’t they?

      1. yes, to the tune of alot of cash in one way or another, and paper work like the bureuacracy from hell…not the same as flood gates of immigrants into a country that has huge employment problems as it is, but keep no borders is the globalist ideal so, standby…

        1. Kind of hard to sell that idea in Ecuador considering everyone here had a close family member emigrate in search of work after the crash in ’98, many of them to Venezuela.

    2. Or….. we should just turn our backs on fellow desperate human beings? Who are you?….and how can you be so cruel and heartless. Where did you learn that?

  2. In Cuenca, I don’t feel more safe or unsafe than let’s say 5 or 7 years ago. The only real difference I notice is the amount of beggars on the streets. That’s a relative new phenomenon in Cuenca and can give an unsafe feeling to some, but being poor certainly doesn’t mean that a person is a criminal.

    There is also much more police on the streets now. The Policía Nacional has more agents and opened more police stations (UPC’s) , the CTE (traffic police) arrived in Azuay and Cuenca introduced its civil agents. That may give the feeling that there is something going on.

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