Pandemic debt suspension period expires; Graffiti fight ends with agreement; Drought takes toll on crops and livestock; U. of Cuenca gets high rating

Nov 14, 2020 | 7 comments

Milk production near Cuenca has suffered as pasture lands dry up due to the drought. (El Comercio)

Ecuadorians who took advantage of a law that suspended payments for a variety of debts and services for six-month are now required to pay up. Provisions of the Humanitarian Law, passed in April, that allowed deferral of rent, utilities, mortgages and other debts, ended Thursday, clearing the way for payments to be collected.

Public utility companies, including Cuenca’s ETAPA and national electric provider Centrosur, began sending out notices last week advising customers that all unpaid bills are now due. Both companies said they would provide extended payments plans to customers unable to cancel debts in a single payment. The national government estimates that more than $2 billion is owed to utilities companies.

With the end of debt suspension rules, landlords are now allowed to collect back rent and begin eviction proceedings against tenants who do not pay for two consecutive months.

A plaque honoring femicide victims will be placed on the Mariano Moreno Bridge at the bottom of the Hermano Miguel escalinata.

City ends bridge ‘graffiti fight’ with agreement
Cuenca’s Historical Areas Commission agreed Friday to place a plaque honoring victims of femicide on the Mariano Moreno bridge over the Rio Tomebamba at the bottom of the Hermano Miguel escalinata. Besides memorializing the lives of murdered women, the agreement is also intended to end what Mayor Pedro Palacios referred to as a “graffiti fight.”

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On at least three occasions in the last two months, the bridge was covered with graffiti denouncing violence against women and supporting abortions rights. City crews painted over the graffiti only to be challenged with new graffiti asking, “What’s more important, your walls or our lives?” and “Do you want us to stop messing up your bridge? Stop killing us!”

In the agreement, the historic areas commission acknowledged the “terrible toll” of femicide and violence toward girls and women and said the bridge is an appropriate location for a plaque honoring the victims.

To many foreign residents, the bridge, which connects the historic district and Parque de la Madre, is known as Alan’s bridge, in honor of the late expat who kept the bridge graffiti-free for more than 10 years.

Extended drought kills crops, threatens livestock
The lack of rain in much of Ecuador’s inter-Andean valley is taking a heavy toll on farmers, the Ministry of Agriculture reports. The drought is most severe in Azuay, Imbabura, Cotopaxi and Tungurahua Provinces. Farms in the affected areas have also been hard-hit by excessive sunshine, cold temperatures and morning frost.

According to the ministry, most farmers in the region have limited access to irrigation and depend on seasonal rainfall for their crops and livestock. Cabbage, broccoli, potatoes and bean plants have been stunted by a lack of rain and some, in Azuay and Tungurahua Provinces, have been killed by freezes. “Under normal conditions, we would receive 200 percent more rain during September and October and the cold temperatures would be behind us,” a ministry spokesman said.

In Azuay Province, dairy production has been reduced by as much as 40 percent as grazing lands have turned brown. Farmers in the Turi and Tarqui areas have suffered heavy loses.

University of Cuenca ranks sixth in Ecuador
The University of Cuenca has been rated the sixth best university in Ecuador in the latest Quacquerelli Symonds world rankings. The San Francisco de Quito University was rated best in the country followed by the Universidad Superior Politécnica del Litoral.

The survey rated 27 public and private universities in Ecuador.

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