I published a post sometime ago on the Tagging and Graffiti problem in Cuenca, which has become so endemic that it cancels out most of the beautification efforts in Cuenca. What is sadder than for tourists and passerbys to see attractive new pathways along Avenida Third of Noviembre by the Rio Tomebama already scarred with senseless tagging. Unfortunately, city officials do not care to address this problem in any meaningful way, and the Cuencanos I have spoken with just shrug their shoulders like what's the big deal. I didn't think that such apathy and indifference on the part of the city and its citizens was a cultural value in Cuenca, because the problem hardly existed until August of 2011 when it became endemic. Why suddenly at that time, such degrading behavior began to spread, I can not explain. It just began to happen.
Some gringos point out that Rome is infamous for its tagging and graffiti and it hasn't hurt their tourist industry. Well, first I know this sounds very Un-American, but aesthetics is an important part of life that should not be based simply on whether or not the marring of a city affects the financial bottom-line. Second, Cuenca is not Rome. Cuenca has many attractive fifteenth century colonial structures of Renaissance architecture with an El Centro that still maintains a fairly Old World feel to it. However, Cuenca is no Rome with Vatican City, St. Peter's Bascilica, the Colleseum, fountains and monuments that dwarf anything Cuenca has to offer, and a church history and an empire history that transcends 2,000 years and can more than compensate for its dirty and shabby appearance marred in graffiti and tagging in many parts of the Eternal City. To date, the problem has only gotten worse in Cuenca to the point where new tagging is being spray painted over old tagging due to a lack of open spaces on some walls immersed in mindless spray painting, and the problem is being left unaddressed. Because the problem has been allowed to go unabated in El Centro, it has begun to spread into other areas as well, which include the outer walls of some of the most affluent neighborhoods in the city.
Why pay public workers to soap, scrub, and hose down the plazas and pick up trash everyday, and then neutralize their fine efforts with the lower levels of almost every building in El Centro covered in mindless tagging? Why rebuild and paint the facades of buildings only to have the lower levels disfigured by individuals bereft of any talent and creativity to do anything positive? Yes, I apologize for applying logic to an illogical world.
Secondly, I published a later post http://cuencaperspectivesbyjim.blogspot.com/2013/05/
A-proposal for the Majestic-Beautification of Cuenca based upon beautification efforts in China that could easily be applied to Cuenca where flowers and plants are readily available and inexpensive, in a climate where such plants could for the most part survive and be on display the year round. I have been told by some gringos, of course, that the idea would go nowhere, because no one would push for something in which they can't figure out a way to make a buck from it. I at this point don't believe most Cuencanos think like most gringos, but these kinds of projects become initiated by those in leadership positions, and these may be the type of Cuencanos who won't support a project that won't result in votes or extra money in their pockets. I hope I am wrong, and in one economic sense, such a project would certainly make Cuenca even more attractive to tourists and to both foreigners and Ecuadorians as a place to visit and to live.
Thirdly, Presidente Correa recently announced that the gas and oil subsidies, which have allowed Ecuadorians to use home fuel and to drive private vehicles well below market world prices will end in two short years. I hope that public transportation like buses and taxis will be exempted, and their subsidies will continue. Major increases in the cost of public transportation would be very prohibitive for many Cuecanos, the majority of whom depend upon public transportation.
At the same time, the impact on the sale of private transportation most likely will result in fewer car sales, which would entail fewer autos on the roads, or at least a major slow down in any growth of autos on Ecuadorian highways. This slow-down would be especially welcomed as a way to lighten if not end the increasingly insane clogging of arteries in Cuenca as autos attempt to get in and out of the city during certain times of the day. Not to mention the traffic congestion caused during the numerous festivals held throughout the year. Streets in Cuenca, particularly in El Centro were not made
for modern day traffic and can not be widened. There are times when I
literally get out of a taxi and walk the three or four blocks in El
Centro to my destination, because I can walk it faster than the taxi can
get me there.
When Cuencanos find that they will suddenly have to pay possibly three times what they now pay for gasoline, assuming current oil market prices hold. Much of the congestion problem may be solved overnight. Electric buses would also be a move in the right direction, although to date city officials to my knowledge show no interest in the purchase and use of electric or hybrid buses. On the other hand, the European style of light rail traffic presently being initiated in Cuenca is also in the long-run going to make a major improvement in the reduction of traffic congestion. However, that light rail system of interlocking transits throughout the city is expected to take at least ten years to complete. In the meantime, as more buses are currently being re-routed out of El Centro and if fewer autos find their way onto the streets of Cuenca, especially in El Centro; Cuenca does offer the year round climate that could make mopeds and bicycles an appropriate and inexpensive way for many people to get around the city, reducing traffic congestion, noise, and carbon pollution.
Needless to say, who better to offer a technological breakthrough that could be applied to Cuenca than the Japanese. The following short video and it use of robotics, underground storage, retrieval, and security of bicycles is a Japanese marvel that is sure to spread to many parts of the world. Why can't Cuenca be among the early leaders in the implementation of such a project? It makes more sense than encouraging more cars to drive into El Centro by building more public garages. The construction of more public garages is counter-intuitive to the purpose for building the light transit rail systems, as is the replacement of buses in El Centro only to accommodate more congestion with more cars.
I encourage you to watch the following video. It will amaze you.
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