Vice President Veronica Abad blames Noboa for her son’s arrest; Another coastal mayor is gunned down; National Assembly passes new tourism law

Mar 25, 2024 | 0 comments

Vice President Veronica Abad is claiming that Thursday’s arrest her son, Francisco Barreiro, came on orders from President Daniel Noboa and that Noboa’s intention is to force her to resign. “Without a doubt, this is part of a plan to force my resignation and leave me here in Israel,” Abad said, adding that she has no plans to step down.

Abad says Noboa is “scared to death” of having her assume the presidency while he campaigns for reelection later this year. Under Ecuadorian law, an incumbent president must turn over presidential duties to the vice president for the duration of the campaign.

Vice President Veronica Abad

Barreiro was arrested early Thursday in Cuenca, charged with influence peddling and extortion. Prosecutors claim Barreriro received $3,400 for placing an unnamed employee in the Vice President’s office and demanded that the employee pay Barreiro half of his salary, or about $1,700, on a monthly basis.

Abad says her son’s “hands are clean” and the charges against him are false. “My son is the victim in a plot aimed at me,” she said. “To the president, I say to you, you will bear the full burden of what you are doing to my son.”

Abad claims the government is adding insult to injury by sending her son to pre-trial detention in the country’s high security La Roca prison in Guayaquil. “This is the place for the most dangerous criminals, the murderers and the drug lords, not a place where they send those who commit financial crimes. They are putting him there as a message to me.”

Noboa and Abad had a falling out within weeks after Noboa announced his presidential candidacy. In an April interview, Noboa said “he made a serious mistake” in choosing Abad as his running mate, accusing her of holding right-wing beliefs he does not share. Abad was not invited to Noboa’s inauguration.

Following his election, Noboa sent Abad to Israel to “represent Ecuador to work for peace” in the war in Gaza. She was later named Ambassador to Israel.

Another coastal mayor gunned down
Brigitte García, the mayor of San Vicente in Manabí Province, was shot dead in her car early Sunday morning. Her communications consultant, Jairo Loor who was riding with her, also died in the attack.

Police Colonel Emerson Ubidia said the motive for the killings is under investigation but robbery has been ruled out since the victims appeared to have had all their belongings, including money, with them when police arrived. Because the fatal shots were fired inside the car, Ubidia says it’s possible the shooter was a passenger.

García, the youngest mayor in Ecuador at 27, was a nurse whose work focused on improving sanitary conditions in her impoverished community in northern Manabí Province. Her most recent project was to bring clean drinking water to area residents.

The murder elicited condolences from many officials, including President Daniel Noboa, but also claims that the government’s “war on terrorists” is not working.

García’s murder is the latest in a series of assassinations of elected officials and candidates since early 2023, all except one committed in coastal provinces. Among them are Manta Mayor Agustín Intriago; Rider Sánchez, candidate for National Assembly in Esmeraldas; Omar Menendez, candidate for mayor of Puerto López; Julio Cesar Farachio, candidate for mayor of Salinas; Javier Pincay, candidate for mayor of Portoviejo; and Diana Carnero, municipal councilwoman from Naranjal.

The assassination of presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio was committed in Quito in May.

Assembly passes tourism law
The National Assembly approved President Daniel Noboa’s tourism law Thursday. According to Tourism Minister Niels Olsen, the legislation “will provide general support to the tourism industry and create a promotional fund similar to those in Peru, Colombia, Costa Rica and Chile.”

Among other the important points of the law are: The reduction from 25% to 15% of the withholding tax for tourism service providers and producers of artistic and cultural events; Elimination of the 5% fuel surcharge charged to airlines, both domestic and foreign; Exemption of airlines from paying the Foreign Exchange Exit Tax (ISD); A VAT rebate to the public  on holidays and weekends; An allowance for local governments to order tax exemptions related to tourism projects.

In provisions unrelated to tourism, the law includes the restructuring of debts and credit rates for the agricultural sector, farmworkers’ insurance, and the remission of fines and interest on educational loans, and allows financial institutions to invest in high interest banking funds in accordance with provisions of the Securities Market Law.

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