Polls show high support for Noboa’s ‘war’ on narcos; Assembly approves forfeiture law; El Niño rains intensify; Peace returns to Duran; Air traffic rises
In four polls taken during the last week of January and first week of February, Ecuadorians expressed overwhelming support for President Daniel Noboa’s “war” on terrorist gangs and cartels. Following a series of prison riots and the takeover of a television station in Guayaquil, Noboa declared a state of emergency based on armed internal conflict.
In a Cedatos poll released February 1, 84% of Ecuadorians supported the government’s action while an Ipsos poll showed 83% support.
In an average of polls, respondents gave the armed forces the highest approval rating of public institutions, at 89% while National Police received 67%. The nation’s judiciary and National Assembly, received the lowest support, at 32% and 18%.
Noboa’s favorability rating averaged 83% in the four polls.
National Assembly approves asset forfeiture law
In a unanimous vote, the National Assembly approved President Daniel Noboa’s urgent legislation to allow forfeiture of assets of those committing crimes. The Organic Law for the Monetization of Economic Resources for the Financing of the Fight Against Corruption now awaits the president’s signature.
Under current law, criminals are allowed to keep personal property with some exceptions, even when it was gained through illegal activity. Assembly President Henry Kronfle applauded the passage of the law, saying the old law was poorly written and filled with “unintended loopholes.”
According to Noboa, the new legislation is aimed primarily at national and international criminal groups that he says have been allowed to keep “hundreds of millions of dollars of ill-gotten gains” because of the existing penal code. “They have continued to use this criminally obtained money to finance their operations that has resulted in the insecurity crisis of the country.”
El Niño rains intensify on the coast
Ecuador’s Institute of Hydrology and Meteorology (Inamhi) is warning residents of coastal provinces to prepare for heavy rain as the impact of El Niño intensifies. In a bulletin, it said flooding conditions should be expected through February 11 and probably beyond.
The heaviest rain can be expected in Guayas, Los Ríos, Manabí and Santo Domingo Provinces, Inamhi says, while above amounts can be expected in the lower elevations of Pichincha, Cotopaxi and Bolívar Provinces.
In its bulletin, Inamhi said that the El Niño system in the Pacific Ocean has shown “slight weakening” in recent weeks but still poses a deadly threat.
Peace returns to Durán
At the one-month anniversary of President Daniel Noboa’s emergency declaration of armed conflict, the city of Durán, is experiencing unaccustomed calm. Considered the most dangerous city in the country in 2023, Durán has seen incidents of murder and violence crime drop dramatically, police report.
The city of 200,000 in Guayas Province experienced an average of nine murders a week in 2023 and police say the rate increased to 11 in the week before emergency restrictions were imposed in January. Following the emergency declaration and the deployment of armed forces in the streets, the number dropped rapidly. In the last two weeks, ending January 27 and February 6, there have been one murder a week.
Durán city officials welcome the calm and expressed hope it continues. “We applaud the president’s decision to use military personnel to secure the peace and look forward to better times ahead,” says Jorge Ramos, a Duran municipal councilman. “Although we look forward to a relaxation of restrictions, including the curfew, we understand that they have been necessary. It is obvious the country needs the military to assist the police in maintaining order.”
He added: “It is wonderful to see people back in the streets and the shops operating on their old schedules. We have lived in fear for many months and now, finally, we see a return to normality.”
Ecuador air traffic rebounds
More than eight million passengers traveled through Ecuador’s airports in 2023, more than the 2019 pre-pandemic total of 7.4 million. “We are pleased to report that three years after the economic devastation of the Covid-19 pandemic, we have finally overtaken our previous record for air travelers,” the General Civil Aviation Directorate (DGAC) said Thursday.
The Directorate reported that 2.4 million used the country’s airports in 2020, 3.9 million in 2021 and 6.6 million in 2022.
According to DGAC, 4,693,159 passengers flew to international destinations in 2023 while 3,403,705 traveled within the country. The top foreign destinations, in rank order, were Bogota, Panama City, Miami, Madrid, Lima, Fort Lauderdale and New York.
The country’s two major international airports in Quito and Guayaquil were the busiest in 2023, accounting for more than 80% of all departures and arrivals. In total number of passengers, the airports in Cuenca, Baltra, Manta, San Cristóbal, Loja, Coca and Santa Rosa followed.