Judge orders suspension of mining operations
Cuenca judge Paúl Serrano has ordered the temporary suspension of mining operations at the Río Blanco gold and silver mine near the Cajas Mountain community of Molleturo. The order also calls for a “demilitarization” of the area around the mine, which is currently guarded by 150 police and military personnel. The suspension order will be in effect for 25 days as data about the impact of the mine on water sources is reviewed by the Universities of Cuenca and Azuay. The city of Cuenca joined the indigenous organization Ecuarunari in asking for the suspension. Earlier this month, protesters shut down the mine, prompting the government to send in police and army troops. Rio Blanco is operated by the Chinese mining company Ecuagoldmining.
Priest says sexual assault charges are ‘lies’
In an interview with federal prosecutors, Cuenca priest César Cordero claims charges that he raped children is “an assault on a lifetime of good work in support of God’s mission.” He claims that those who have filed charges against him are lying to damage his reputation. Cordero, the founder of the Catholic University of Cuenca, faces five charges of rape and families of the victims say other victims will soon come forward. Some of his accusers say that the priest sexually molested dozens, maybe hundreds, of children. Cordero, 92, is recovering from a circulatory illness, his family says.
New hydro plant goes online in September
The Minas-San Francisco hydroelectric plant on the Azuay – El Oro provincial border, will become operational in September, according to the project manager. Located on the Jubones River, 45 miles southwest of Cuenca, the plant will generate 275 megawatts of power. Testing begins in July and will continue through August. Minas-San Francisco is one of eight large hyro-electric projects in Ecuador that began construction in 2010 and 2011.