Demanding changes to the plan to renovate Cuenca’s San Francisco Square, some of the 128 merchants who currently occupy the square staged a sit-in Monday at the municipal building on Parque Calderon.
The protesters’ main demand is that the sales kiosks in the new plan be made permanent. The city plan calls for mobile kiosks that can be moved from the square during non-working hours.
Leader of the merchants, Gustavo Avila, threatened legal action if the change is not made. “We are not itinerant workers and we want permanent working spaces,” he said, adding that the merchants will pursue their constitutional right under the “continuity in place” guarantee.
Another officer for the San Francisco Square Trade Association, Juan Gonzalez, claimed that members were ignored during the planning process. “We were not considered during the preparation of the renovation and we categorically reject the decisions that have been made.”
The city has said the movable kiosks are a non-negotiable issue since it wants the entire square to be available for public events.
Protesters agreed to leave the building after Mayor Marcelo Cabrero promised to meet with the merchants association. “I will maintain an open dialogue with you until we reach an agreement,” he said.