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Online meeting held January 17, 2024.
A Question & Answer session was held on January 17, 2024, to give current/active immigration clients an opportunity to ask a panel of experts questions regarding the January 2024 State of Emergency.
Participants in the online meeting, By Nationality:
By current home location
Can you give me an overview of the State of Emergency? Can the it be extended? For how long?
Sara: On January 8 , 2024, President Daniel Noboa issued Decree 110 that declared a state of emergency, valid for a maximum period of sixty ( 60) days. It may be renewed for up to thirty (30) additional days at most due to the prison crisis . In 2023, former president Lasso also declared the SOE for 60 days and he extended it for 30 days, so total 90 days.
On January 8 , 2024, President Daniel Noboa issued Decree 110 that declared a state of emergency, valid for a maximum period of sixty ( 60) days. It may be renewed for up to thirty (30) additional days at most due to the prison crisis . In 2023, former president Lasso also declared the SOE for 60 days and he extended it for 30 days, so total 90 days. On January 9 , 2024 Decree 111 Article was declared. It recognizes the existence of an internal armed conflict. Provide the mobilization and intervention of the Armed Forces and National Police in the national territory to guarantee sovereignty and territorial integrity against organized crime.
What powers are granted to the President upon declaring a State of Emergency?
Sara: The president is granted a total of eight powers during SOE. Right now he has used the limitation of mobility, which is the curfew from 11pm to 5pm and the mobilization of the army and the national police on Ecuadorian territory. Additional powers include moving the seat of the government to another city,limiting information from news media for the purpose of the state, using funds originally intended for other purposes.
Have other countries offered to provide resources to help Ecuador defend its sovereignty and protect its residents?
Sara: As of January 17th, 2024, 38 countries have offered to help Ecuador and the President has only accepted assistance from two countries thus far - United States and Argentina.
What is going to happen after 60 days?
How does the State of Emergency affect us in our everyday life?
Sara: These measures seek to guarantee the safety of the population, but they can also generate significant changes in people 's daily routine. You will see: Increase in police and military presence Restrictions on mobility Implementation of stricter security measures
Does the State of Emergency grant the right for army and police to enter my home?
Sara: They can only enter homes that, according to military or police intelligence, are having suspicious activities.
Does the state of emergency extend immunity from liability to residents who might injure a criminal while defending themselves?/Self-defense laws?
Mr. Castro: The declaration of State of Emergency (SOE) does not grant immunity from liability to the residents who may injure a criminal while defending themselves . Ecuadorian law allows the right for self defense but the use of force must be justified and proportional in situations of imminent threat.
Is there such a thing as a warrant in Ecuador? Must an official wanting to conduct a search present a warrant first?
Sara: Yes during normal time, a warrant is needed to search a home. But during SOE, this is not needed to search a home if suspicious activities are reported.
Is it legal for us to buy handguns for personal protection inside our home?
Sara: Non-Ecuadorian citizens are not allowed to buy guns.
What are your recommendations for reliable news sources in Ecuador right now?
Sara and Mr. Castro: Do not rely your information solely on personal social media networks. This caused a lot of panic last Tuesday (January 9th). Make sure to check the official web site or official social media pages/channels of government agencies (not all Ecuador businesses and organizations have their own websites and many times their official website is essentially their page on social media). These are the some news sources that I would recommend:
What are the areas to avoid in Ecuador right now?
Sara and Mr. Castro:
I am currently in the US. Will I have any issues returning to Ecuador? Do I need additional documents?
Sara: If you are a US citizen and a resident of Ecuador and you are returning from the US, you should not have any issues returning to Ecuador. The documents for coming into Ecuador have not changed unless you (as a non-Ecuadorian citizen) are entering by land from Peru or Colombia.
What additional documents do I need if I travel (back) to Ecuador from Peru or Colombia? I am a permanent resident of Ecuador and have my cedula.
Sara: All non-Ecuadorian citizens, regardless of nationality, will need apostilled criminal background check document in the country(s) that you have lived in the last 5 years. This would apply to all non-Ecuadorian citizens, even if they have Ecuadorian permanent residency. The criminal background check is not needed if you travel by air. My recommendation is not to travel to/from Peru or Colombia by land at this moment as the effort to get apostilled criminal background check is quite an effort.
Is it safe to travel to Quito and/or Guayaquil?
Sara: It is pretty safe to travel to Quito or Guayaquil. If you travel during curfew (11pm-5am), you need to have a plane ticket if you get stopped. Most of the van and bus services do not offer services during the curfew time, so you need to plan accordingly.
Are the streets of Cuenca dangerous after dark?
Sara: Cuenca is pretty safe after dark. However, you should exercise your usual caution.
Would we be denied rights to leave Ecuador?
Sara: No. Ecuador is a democratic country and we respect civil rights. As long as you have a valid passport and documents needed at the destination country, you are free to leave.
Which areas in Cuenca do we need to be more careful?
Will the current SOE impact my visa process? I am planning to apply for the renewal of my Temporary Residency Visa in 2024. What will be the impact or risks to visa processes and timelines?
Sara: No. So far the government ministries are currently working their normal hours and I do not foresee any delays to the visa process. The immigration office was only closed one day during the first week of SOE but all appointments have been rescheduled.
What is the known effect on potential process changes for permanent resident visas?
Sara: I do not foresee major changes for the permanent resident visa process. There may be smaller changes as were done in the past, or specific to a nationality.
Can If I travel but cannot return for some reason due to travel restrictions, will it adversely affect my visa status?
What is the stability of the Central Bank of Ecuador (CBE) and the other commercial banks in Ecuador?
Mr. Brito: Your money invested in commercial banks is guaranteed under a system here called Deposit Insurance, (COSEDE DIR-2016-021 of 08/24/2016) which in turn is protected with the Banking Reserve. that rests in the RILD (International Free Availability Reserve) that totals about 4 billion dollars. And in BCE it is a banking entity that is part of the Ecuadorian state, that is, it is the bank of banks.
Is the safety of money in the bank guaranteed up to a certain amount of money? Something similar to the FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation) in the United States?
Mr. Brito: The issue of guarantee was answered in the previous question and there is no amount of money, that is, all deposits of any amount are protected by the aforementioned resolution.
Security of deposits in both banks and cooperatives. What are the Differences?
Mr. Brito: The difference between banks and cooperatives is rather differentiated by their legal status, while banks are anonymous companies, cooperatives are limited companies, that is, some have clients and the other partners.
Can the Ecuadorian government seize my assets during a state of emergency?
Mr. Brito: NO. The constitution of Ecuador clearly states that there can be no seizure or freezing of deposits. As determined by article 308 of the Magna Carta, which explicitly prohibits the freezing or arbitrary or generalized retention of funds, deposits in public or private financial institutions. Article 322 of the Penal Code punishes financial panic with a custodial sentence of 5 to 7 years.
What is the security of certificates of deposit (CD) and what are the risks with the State of Emergency?