Thursday, October 18, 2012

Official News From Cotacachi

Thanks to Dan Delgado of the Communications Committee for English-Speaking Residents of Cotacachi, I have lots of information for all of you who currently live here and those considering the move. Things here are definitely changing and it's good for all of us to stay abreast of those changes.

IESS (pronounced YYess) I must thank everyone who came out to the IESS workshop last time. IESS officials were unable to make it to that meeting saying that they were called to other functions. I am sorry about that. Thank you for your patience and understanding and also for your support. Mr. Ivan Andrade, the regional director at the office of IESS in Otavalo would like to come into Cotacachi to meet with us all this coming Friday at two in the afternoon. Mr Andrade's office has direct jurisdiction for IESS in the Cotacachi area and he will be here to answer as much as possible on the following issues for people who would like to try to understand the process for hiring helpers themselves. After this meeting, you are welcome to join the senior citizens who come to this center for their afternoon program. Fridays is a musical event - chorus, I believe. Mondays at three is Bingo.

Ivan Andrade of IESS also would like to introduce us to a novel solution that could make this entire process of hiring domestic help much simpler. A Domestica employment agency that provides helpers on an as-needed basis with the service provider taking care of all of the paperwork.This agency would offer professional household helpers for a service charge that could mean a lot less hassles for you. We can find out if they include background checks and insurance and the price of the package available, at this meeting.

Here are some considerations that we as individuals would otherwise deal with, according to the IESS office and Ministry of Labor Relations:
 - Affiliation to the IESS cost for worker compared to cost for employer.
 - Calculating part-time payment for wages and for entitlements.
- Thirteenth and fourteenth months payment 2012 salary calculations.
- Reserve funds as monthly installments calculating and Retained earnings calculation.
- Grounds for termination of the employment contract and Untimely dismissal.
- Overtime, weekend, holiday, night-time and other extraordinary payments.
- Lay-off and Severance Pay.
- Obligations & rights as employer and employee.
- Payment of utilities (profit-sharing where applicable).
- Maternity Entitlements and Paternity Leave.
- Legal Claims for not affiliating domestics with IESS in case of accidents or disputes.
- Labor holidays in Ecuador.

This meeting with the English-speaking residents and visitors of Cotacachi will take place at: "Eduardo Moreno Granga" Asociacion de Jubilados, Pensionistas y Voluntarios located on calle Rocafuerte 8-30 FRIDAY the 19th of Octubre at 14h:00 (2PM).

SECURITY ISSUES Traffic tickets made their first appearance in Cotacachi town around the time of Jora festivities. I saw that a small family on a motorbike was shocked, but coming from a free country into the big city, even a helmet law must seem too much to expect.

There are new programs being organized by the Governor's office for Citizen Security, which includes scheduling community workshops on public and private safety, and these are also geared toward helping people to understand laws and legal procedures. A new 911 system that is being installed includes Panic buttons in certain high-risk areas. New Auxiliary community-patrol units are asking for citizen volunteers through the municipal office of Public Safety.

The military has lately become involved in policing crime, and they can ask you to show your identification papers at checkpoints, including on board a bus. I have found that a notarized, color copy of ID is good enough for most situations. More police units and better security equipment are in the plans, as well as a new Judicial building for Cotacachi, so that people don't have to go through Ibarra for so much legal work. The Judicial building will be on the end of Diez de Agosto by the Municipal Spa and swimming pool. The new police station for Municipal police is being built now right across from the public hospital on Pedro Moncayo street. The Judicial police detectives - called Pehotas (PJ's), have also moved now - from across from the museum to an office next to the Prosecutors (Fiscalia), making them easier to find and granting better accountability.

Rumor is, they will even get around to making the office of Rental Lease Registration, that was always required by the last published rent-control laws, and without which, there is practically no authority here for now. It is more likely that this development will wait until the newer rent-control laws are approved over the next few months. This Ley Del Inquilinato just passed through its second debate last week in the National Assembly. Complicating the debate on this, and also debate on the local ordinances required by the PDOT (Plan for Orderly Development of Terrain) and COOTAD (National Code for Organizing Autonomous Decentralized Territories), is the fact that most rules are still based on the "Catastral" value (for tax purposes), and these have not been reformed to reflect realistic values. Property values did go through a minor adjustment this year and possibly won't be adjusted again for another few years more.

Other headlines lately - of course there's the Voting Fraud situation where databases with people's name and C.I. (cedula de identidad #) along with forged signatures were used on political party support petitions. For the first time, the CNE electoral system authority was able to check registration of voters compared against databases with digital copies of their signatures. Literally tens of thousands of citizens checked on the new link added to the CNE website which is at and have filed Denuncias, (basically legal complaints), when they found their names wrongfully used. A few political parties lost their right to participate in the next election, when their number of re-checked and validated signatures was lower than the number needed to qualify. 

Speaking of fraud - there is an awful lot of this white on white-collar crime here among us, and I imagine more going on, but not admitted to for embarrassment or fear of slander laws. Scams, including quacks and other frauds, peddling promises make this feel like the wild west, but it is not. Demanding documentation and contracts, full names and IDs, records of any exchanges of money, is the least you can do to have evidence in your favor in legal proceedings. Please be careful.

The line of people asking for Christmas presents has already queued up also, and I am working with the MIES-INFA on a workshop, so they can explain what a legal foundation looks like, and what it is allowed to say when raising funds and what they are allowed to do with donations. MIES (Ministry of Inclusion Economic and Social) oversees many types of organizations.

INFA had been helping to oversee children's programs, until the accidental death of a toddler near here, last year. This tragedy was the impetus for a very ambitious overhaul, which will lead to soon, dozens of professionally-staffed childcare centers to replace all of the presently volunteer-run centers. These two agencies, MIES-INFA, know more about who needs help and how to help, than any others and they don't like to see people taken advantage of.

Once again, the IESS senior citizen center in Cotacachi is hosting the informational workshop by IESS officials at their space on calle Rocafuerte #8-30, between calles Juan Montalvo and Eloy Alfaro, which is one block past the police station by San Francisco Park (the crafts tables park), and in the direction of the public hospital. "Eduardo Moreno Granga" Asociacion de Jubilados, Pensionistas y Voluntarios FRIDAY the 19th of Octubre at 14h:00 (2PM).

By Dan Delgado
Communications Committee for English-Speaking Residents of Cotacachi


  1. Unfortunately, this post may have reinforced some thoughts I have had of late. There seems to be a number of developments that have been left uncompleted and search as I might it appears to be impossible to find comments from people who have left. It can't possibly be rosey for everyone. Though people says there is crime in all countries, I have yet to see a town as small, that has so much security around homes and businesses.

    1. You're absolutely right--Cotacachi (or Ecuador for that matter) is definitely not for everyone. People come here based on what people who love it here have said and sometimes without fully understanding the issues that can come from living in a developing country. This is a completely different culture than anything I ever came close to experiencing in the States. Actually, rather than try to speak to this in a reply to a comment, I think I'm going to write a blog post. This deserves more than just a quickly jotted comment.