Turi prison will return to regional status; City proceeds with tram-bus integration planning but bus owners not involved; Paccha residents oppose mine

May 12, 2022 | 5 comments

Miércoles, 11/5/2022

Hola, Todos –

Actividades –

Conciertos semanales en la agenda de mayo tiene OSC (OSC has weekly concerts on its May agenda) – The Orquesta Sinfónica de Cuenca (OSC) will play a concert Thursday a las 20:00 in the Catedral Vieja with Dvorak, Liszt, y Tchaikovski on the program. On el 19/5 a las 20:00, it will play a program of symphonic rock with the Animal Inside Band in the theater of the Casa de la Cultura. On el martes, 24/5 a las 10:00 it will perform with music bands in the estadio Alejandro Serrano Aguilar. The last concert of the month will be el 26/5 a las 20:00 in the Teatro Pumapungo with Tchaikovski on the program and violin soloist Lisa Jacobs. The concerts are free, and people will be seated until the venue reaches capacity.

Titular –

CPL-Turi sí puede volver a ser regional (CPL-Turi can return to regional status) – The mass escape from the cárcel de Bellavista in Santo Domingo de los Tsáchilas created zozobra (anxiety/distress – your word for the day) in the residents of the province and especially in those near the jail. For hours, 220 inmates wandered around, going into houses and businesses, getting on buses, and commandeering cars and motos to get away. By the afternoon, 200 had been recaptured with the whereabouts of 20 unknown. Some inmates went into peoples’ houses asking for clothing and food, and some even spent the night and left the next day to try escape. <Doesn’t sound like gang members who probably had contacts to get them away.>

Although Cuenca transportation officials are pushing ahead with plans to integrate the tram and public buses, bus owners say they have not been asked to participate in the process.

After finding out that the massacre in Santa Domingo was caused by 124 prisoners who were previously in the prison in Turi, including the head of the Los Lobos gang, and in light of the possibility of transferring new prisoners to Cuenca, Mayor Palacios convened an Asamblea Ciudadana to protect the canton. He said the prison at Turi does not have the conditions to take more prisoners nor can it guarantee the security conditions to protect the nearby zones.

Initially, Turi was supposed to be a regional prison which would only take prisoners from Azuay, Cañar and Morona Santiago, but it wound up with prisoners from all over the country, many affiliated with the most dangerous gangs. Of the 7 prison massacres in the country, 2 were in Turi in which 98 inmates died. Patricio Carrillo, minister of the Interior, said that it would be possible to change Turi into a regional prison administered by the City, but it would not be immediate. <I hope more immediate than the Tranvía.> He said there would need to be a census to know who and what the conditions in the prison are. After changes in the infrastructure, the transfer of prisoner bosses who aren’t from this region would continue. The problem is where to take them and how to solve the overcrowding problem.

La ubicación (The location) – Fernando Carrión, an architect and urban planner, said that no one wants a prison nearby which was why remote locations were picked. Islands were popular including the Galápagos. <Also Alcatraz which was supposed to be impossible to escape from, and Riker’s Island.> But the distance made it hard to rehabilitate inmates for reentry into society since there was little contact with their families. He added that the existence of prisons in the city is not entirely negative since there is an economy around the outsides of the jails such as places to eat. <I can think of much less threatening places to eat, but if you’re waiting for visiting hours, I guess you wouldn’t have much other choice.>

Cuenca –

Acción legal para proteger el Guagualzhumi (Legal action to protect Guagualzhumi) – Carlos García, president of the Paccha parish junta announced that it will present a legal measure to avoid extraction of rocks containing silica from the Guagualzhumi hill near the Cochas community to the NE of Cuenca. The silica is used in the production of concrete. The Nuevo Horizonte company has the concession to extract this material and is in the mining exploration phase for an environmental license which is a requirement before mining operations can start. García explained that the area of the concession is a protected area since it contains water sources, a tourism area, and has archeological vestiges. Romel Vallejo, a civil engineer an archeological researcher, said there are important archeological , paleontological, and natural riches in sites such as Guagualzhumi, El Plateado, meseta Pachamama y Cerro de las Monjas.

Avanza la remediación en Illincocha (Illincocha remediation progresses) – ETAPA asked for an inspection to verify the progress of remediation work at Illincocha, in the Parque Nacional Cajas (PNC). In abril, 2021, a court ordered the suspension of work on an emergency fire station in the area which was in a protected area, and ordered remedial work to be done. The ruling applied to ETAPA and the Ministerio del Ambiente, Agua y Transición Ecológica (MAATE). The Cuenca Fire Department was excluded from the ruling. The court imposed a fine on ETAPA and MAATE for not complying with the schedule for remediation, and so ETAPA asked for the inspection to verify the work. Some of the work had been done, and some had not been completed. <You’d think that MAATE would be the first agency to want to assess the environmental impact of a project right on the shore of one of the lakes in the Cajas, but I guess what’s good for the gander is not good for the goose.>

Oposición a desechar sistema de recaudo (Opposition to discarding collection system) – Diego Idrovo, the president of the Cámara de Transporte de Cuenca (CTC) which runs the urban buses in Cuenca was interviewed. He was asked about the progress on integrating the bus and Tranvía systems and said that the CTC had not received information from the city about its plans. He said that the city contracted with a consultant but the CTC was not in agreement with the need for that contract. The CTC invested a lot of money in their fare collection system and did not want to scrap it for a new system. <He was asked about and answered a lot of other stuff too complicated for me to untangle.>

Construcción de estaciones (Construction of stations) – Councilmember and president of the Council Mobility Commision Diego Morales, said that the integration of the Tranvía will proceed in phases. It is necessary that there is adequate infrastructure to guarantee safety when passengers transfer between the buses and the tram. So the council approved construction of 2 interconnection stations in Baños and Ricaurte which are the ends of the Tranvía line. Work on the Baños station at the south will start next week with the northern end in Ricaurte following. The goal is for a harmonic and safe integration. Morales also said that in a couple of weeks, the specific bus schedule will be known and after that, the Tranvía will get the card readers. The tram system is in the process of awarding the bid for the readers which will be put in the different transport units <Including the buses?

In spite of the resistance from the CTC? Sounds like no one is talking to anyone else.> within a time frame of 5-6 months. He said the process will start with the current buses in the city with an eye to getting electric buses in the following year using credit from KFW, some of which does not have to be repaid and some of which is a loan. The technical integration will take another 6 months. He hopes that after a year, the infrastructure and technological conditions will be ready, and, of course, the validators on the buses, which would be the definitive ones. <Am I the only one confused by this whole mess? Seems like that integrating the fare system is a 3rd rail no one wants to touch. I think the Tranvía will have fallen apart for lack of maintenance before the fare system gets integrated.>

Integración estuvo prevista para junio (Integration was scheduled for June) – Jorge Moscoso, coordinating director of the Tranvía said in a previous interview, that the operational and technological integration of the Tranvía was originally to have been completed in the middle of this year. The first thing was to define the extension of the points according to a study by León & Godoy which had the tram as the main axis in the Centro Histórico, and fed by the southern (Baños) and northern (Ricaurte) points, and other feeders such as Sayausí. He said that the daily tram ridership is at 14,000 without integration. When it surpasses 34,000 passengers, it will allow the reduction of 70% of the budget deficit. He also mentioned that the tram ticketing technology dates to 2013 which is totally totally outdated and needs to be be upgraded. You can’t expect to improve and reduce the deficit with outdated technology. Impossible! <So you throw more money at the problem. The buses are operating with fare boxes dating to 2011. So neither is current enough to integrate anyway? Both transportation modes could scrap what they’ve got, talk to each other and get one new system for both? My brain hurts.>

And that’s all for today so Hasta ? –


Editor’s note: Jeanne’s Periodico is a translated digest of news from the Cuenca daily newspaper El Mercurio. If details, such as event dates and times, do not appear in the translation, they did not appear in the newspaper (please don’t ask her for them). The text between the carrots, or guillemets (< … >), is Jeanne’s personal opinion and not part of the news translation.


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