Yasunidos will fight all efforts to scuttle oil vote; Businesses and tourism interests want nightly curfew relaxed; Arrests made in prosecutor murder

Jan 19, 2024 | 0 comments

The environmental collective Yasunidos says it is prepared to fight any attempt to ignore, delay or hold a revote of the referendum to end oil production in the Yasuní National Park. Ecuadorians voted 60% to 40% in August to end operations in the park, which is considered one of the most biodiverse places on earth.

Several members of the National Assembly are proposing to set aside the election result and continue to pump oil from Yasuní. The discussion comes in reaction to President Daniel Noboa’s proposal to raise the VAT tax from 12% to 15%. Another Assembly proposal is to hold a revote of the question in hopes voters will change their minds.

Police at the scene of the murder of prosecutor Cesar Suarez in Guayaquil on Wednesday. Two gang members have been arrested in the killing.

“We are outraged that this is being considered,” said Fernando Muñoz-Miño of Yasunidos. “It is like the losing side in a presidential race suggesting election results be thrown out and a new election called. This matter has been decided decisively and I’m confident any challenge will be dismissed by the Constitutional Court.”

Muñoz-Miño added that the issue is being discussed only because the government and National Assembly have “lacked the courage” to revise the country’s tax structure. “They have known for years the tax system needs to be changed but they have avoided making hard decisions.”

Businesses, tourism interests want nightly curfew relaxed
Business organizations across Ecuador are calling for revision or elimination of the nightly curfew imposed under the state of emergency declared by President Daniel Noboa. The curfew is being enforced from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. nightly.

In a statement, the Quito Economic Development Commission said, “the one-size-fits-all approach” does correlate to the reality of the emergency. “We all support the government in its battle with criminal organizations,” the commission says. “Our concern is that the curfew is being applied equally around the country while security conditions are vastly different in different communities.”

The commission points out almost 90% of reports of gang attacks in Quito are false. “In cases where reports are true, very few correspond to criminal gang actions. These are common crimes that occur in all seasons.”

In Cuenca, the tourism council representing hotels, restaurants and bars claims that business has dropped 80% since the emergency was declared January 8. “Our members are suffering massive loses and we urge the government to reconsider some of its restrictions, particularly the nightly curfew.” The council statement continued: “The city of Cuenca has seen very little violence connected to criminal gangs and that was in the first two or three days of the declaration.”

The council added that it supports the government action against drug crime. “We are behind the president 100%, we only ask that restrictions be applied based on community conditions.”

In its statement, the Quito business commission made the same point. “What we experience in Quito, Cuenca and other sierra cities, is much different than what is occurring in Guayaquil and Manta. The curfew should reflect this difference.”

Arrests made in Guayaquil prosecutor murder
Two men have been arrested for the murder of Guayaquil prosecutor Cesar Suarez, and Police Commander Cesar Zapata says both are linked to the Los Chonekillers criminal gang. Suarez was shot multiple times in his car on Wednesday as he drove to a court hearing for the suspects in the invasion of the TC Television studios last week.

During the arrests, police recovered firearms they say were used in the murder, including several handguns and multiple rounds of ammunition. Zapata said that two more suspects have been identified in the crime and remain at large.

Suarez was conducting a number of investigations of criminal gangs and had interviewed most of those arrested in the TC Television studio attack, January 9. According to Zapata, several of Suarez’s cases involved Chonekillers attacks on police in the Duran-Guayaquil area. He added that there is also a connection between drug trafficker Leandro Norero, the center of Operation Metastasis arrests, and the Chonekillers.

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