Presidential race takes shape as Cucalón announces; Cuenca Gay Pride march, shows attract thousands; Inflation is negative in June, low for the year

Jul 8, 2024 | 0 comments

With the addition of former government minister Henry Cucalón to the field presidential candidates, next February’s election is beginning to take shape. Cucalón will compete with Andrea González, Fernando Villavicencio’s vice-presidential running mate, for the Construye movement nomination.

In addition to Cucalón and González, announced presidential candidates include so-far unaffiliated Víctor Araus, Jorge Escala of the Popular Unity movement, Pedro Granja of the Socialist Party, and Leonidas Iza of Pachakutik.

Saturday’s Gay Pride march and performances attracted thousands with events continuing late into the night. (El Mercurio)

Among the unannounced candidates are President Daniel Noboa and candidates for the Social Christian Party and Citizens Revolution. Official announcements are expected in August or September.

The favorite for the Social Christians, according to party insiders, is National Assembly President Henry Kronfle, while Gustavo Jalk and former presidential candidate Luisa González are the frontrunners for the RC nomination.

In addition, former Correista vice presidential candidate Carlos Rabascall says he is “strongly considering” entering in the race but has not yet chosen a party affiliation.

Former political pollster Juan Hamilton believes the presidential race is wide open. “The speculation is that Noboa and the Citizens Revolution candidate will make the runoff but this is far from certain,” he said. “Noboa’s popularity is declining but so is that of RC, especially its leader [Rafael Correa]. Many of us believe the situation favors a newcomer, possibly someone who no one is yet considering. There is anger and disillusionment with the old political order and this favors new faces.”

Gay Pride march and shows attract thousands
Organizers estimate that 3,000 to 4,000 participated in Saturday’s Gay Pride march and activities that followed in San Francisco Plaza. The march from San Blas Plaza through the historic district featured bands, floats, dance troupes as well as banners demanding full recognition of the LGBTIQ+ community.

Performances in San Francisco Plaza and in city bars and restaurants afterward, featured international artists such as Selisha Hansley, La Queen, Janin Castro and Mexican drag queen Gala Varo, star of the television program Drag Race Mexico. The Burlesque Theater and the Praxis Group also performed.

Jorge Ramos, spokesman for the event, said entertainment is important for LGBTIQ+ people but said there is also a political message. “We like to have fun but cannot forget the obstacles we still face for acceptance,” he said. “The colorful costumes, the drag shows and burlesques attract the larger community, and we want them to have a good time too, but the fight for human rights and for our incorporation into the culture at large remain our main objective.”

He added that Ecuador’s decriminalization of homosexuality in 1997 was an important first step. “That was the beginning of our emancipation, but we continue to endure political and religious rejection, as well as acts of violence against our people.”

Inflation is negative in June, stays low for the year
The Institute of Statistics and Census (INEC) reports that inflation was a negative .95% in June and finished the first six months of 2024 at 1.18%, the second lowest rate since 2000. According to INEC, the low rates indicate that the increase in the VAT from 12% to 15% and higher gasoline prices have had only modest effects on prices.

Although economists agree low inflation is a positive sign, they say it reflects a generally depressed economy with declining consumption by the public. “The rise in the value added tax has been offset by lower sales in the retail market,” the Corporation for Development Studies (Cordes) said in response to the inflation report. “We will see the same regarding higher fuel prices, as motorists reduce their highway kilometers.”

Cordes said that many retail outlets are absorbing all or part of the 3% VAT increase to maintain sales levels. It also said early indications are that higher gasoline prices are having little effect on point-of-sale prices in stores and markets. “Most of the transport of goods and produce uses diesel fuel, which is not included in the current fuel price increases,” Cordes said.

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