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Quito takes aim at public urination

Quito’s municipal police have a message for men who pee in the city’s historic district. “We will begin fining those who make Quito streets and sidewalks a public urinal,” said a spokesman for the Metropolitan Control Police agency Agency,” on Tuesday. “The ordinance is already on the municipal record and will begin strict enforcement immediately.”

A man urinates in a Quito park.

According to municipal ordinance, urinating or defecating on public property will cost violators 20% of the basic monthly wage of $400, or $80. The fine is double for a second offense.

Like other such ordinances in Ecuador, including those in Cuenca and Ambato, Quito’s is rarely enforced. Only one fine for urinating in public was issued in 2019 and none have been issued so far in 2020. “This is very hard to enforce due to the fact that offenders are mostly poor, often drunk, and don’t carry identification,” says criminology professor Erik Sanchez at San Francisco University. “Like graffiti and public loitering, the police usually have more important work to do so enforcement is lax.”

In most cases of urinating or defecating in public, Sanchez says, police tell violators to stop and occasionally to clean up their mess. “Unfortunately, I think the latest announcement is for public relations purposes and I don’t think you will see more than token enforcement.”