Cuenca’s municipal council elected Marisol Peñaloza vice mayor Tuesday afternoon, replacing Pablo Burbano who was elected by the same council three months earlier.
The original election came under pressure from National Court Judge Luis Alberto Guerrero who denied an appeal for clarification from the city government. In his denial, Guerrero said he supported the federal Ombudsman’s Office’s claim that the council was in violation of sexual equality laws by having no women in leadership positions.
Mayor Pablo Palacio objected to the ombudsman’s position, saying it was in conflict with the democratic process. “We had a fair and open election on the council when we elected Pablo Burbano and it is outrageous we should be forced to nullify that election based on this claim,” he said. “I fully support the equality of women but I also support the democratic process.”
The 21-member municipal council is overwhelmingly male following the March election, with only three women members.
Peñaloza was elected as a councilor of the Renace movement but has since announced she is a political independent. She lists are primary interests as working for the rights of rural women and maintaining clean water sources.
Cuenca’s was not the only municipal council in the region to be challenged for having all-male leadership. The municipal council of Santa Isabel complied with the Ombudsman’s order last week, electing Yadira Goyes as vice mayor.