A series of earthquakes and aftershocks hit the Northern Coast of Ecuador past week
29 abril, 2016
A series of earthquakes and over 700 aftershocks hit the northern area of the city of Muisne, Ecuador, several times during a week since Saturday 16th. The first and most damaging earthquake, with a magnitude of 7.8, has caused 665 confirmed deaths so far, over 4.000 people injured, about 29.000 homeless and a big confusion related to the number of missing people, additionally 85% of the structures in the Muisne city are ruined, according to Ecuador’s national emergency management office.
The government and Ecuador’s National Emergency Management Office, are the bodies in charge of managing the consequences and to coordinate the foreign efforts and supports made by NGO’s and other institutions.
To face the situation, Ecuador’s government is taking some economic measures, as increasing VAT two points (from 12% to 14%) during a year. Also, citizens that have more than one million dollars, will have to pay once 0,9% of capital gains taxes. Moreover, Ecuador deployed 10.000 soldiers and 4.600 police officers to the affected areas.
Knowing how susceptible the area is to suffer this kind of natural disasters, the government is being criticized mainly by the opposition who believes that a lot of money has been wasted during the past 10 years in education and infrastructure, running out the emergency founds.
Countries like China and Brazil are aiding by seeding medicines, food, tents and other inputs needed to help the national organisms to take care of all the consequences this catastrophe bring.
There is an internal battle between the government and the opposition that ask for an approach to IMF, which has always being avoided in Ecuador because of the requirements of public expenditure reduction. The cities need 3 billion dollar to rebuild the devastated areas and the country is thinking on ask for a loan to the International Community. The World Bank has already granted 150 million USD to supply the needs.
Despite internal political disputes in the country before and after the earthquake, since 2008 more importance was given to the aim of “Communication and information”, based on this, goverment is trying seriously to expose to the society the situation, with the intention to make population feel safe and to take real steps to guarantee that the transparency law is correctly apply. But this, actually, opened once again a discussion about the political transparency in the country for receiving financial aid.
On the other hand, it is difficult to ensure that these same laws really ensure transparency without the manipulation of information from government bodies. In Ecuador, at the present, the right to this kind of information is protected by the “Law of Transparency and Access to Public Information” (LOTAIP), which its main base is the requirement of free access to public information inside deadlines, thus also imposes sanctions on the states entities which does not fulfil with the law.
Finally, It is important to recognize the social meaning this rights of access to information have in Ecuador for the improvement of the quality of life, but after the earthquake in the country, LOTAIP law is constantly being debating.