Calling gay marriage a “novelty,” President Rafael Correa says he is also opposed to the adoption of children by gay couples.

Although he says he supports civil unions for gays and lesbians, Correa insists that discussions of legalizing gay marriage is a distraction from bigger issues. “Ecuador has more important challenges, like ending poverty and improving education, that must be attended to before we deal with this,” he said Thursday in a radio interview.

He added that he is willing to put the gay marriage question to a vote in the 2014 elections. “I am sensitive to all types of oppression, including sexual oppression, but I believe it is important that now we stay focused on the work of the citizens' revolution.”

Defending his record, Correa said, "No government has done more for LGBTI groups (gay, lesbian, transgender, bisexual and intersex) than this goverment.”

On adoption by gay couples, Correa said, “I simply do not agree with the adoption of children by same-sex couples,” Correa said. “I think the traditional family environment is important for children.”


New airline drops Cuenca – Guayaquil flights

Less than a month after it began operations, Cuenca airline Línea Aérea Cuencana (LAC) has dropped its Cuenca -  Guayaquil flights.

The airline, which began flying May 13 says it may resume the Guayaquil service later this year, when it receives two new aircraft. Currently, it is operating with one.

One reason for the suspension of flights, according to LAC operations manager Eduardo Palacios, is competition from shuttle van services between Cuenca and Guayaquil. “The vans take can take passngers for $12 a trip between the two cities and this deprives the airlines of passengers,” he said, "The vans are transporting hundreds of people every day."

LAC says it will continue Loja – Quito service as well asits new service between Cuenca and Quito.


Oil minister says production will remain steady


Ecuador’s Minister of Non-Renewable Resources, Pedro Merizalde, says the country can continue on its current production schedule of 500,000 barrels of oil for at least five more years. Merizalde was attending the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) meeting in Vienna.

Merizalde said that Ecuador needs 200,000 barrels for domestic consumption, leaving 300,000 for export, 90% of which currently goes to China.

Acknowledging that many of the country’s oil wells are near or past peak production, Merizalde said that Ecuador will need to increase its investment in oil production to meet the goal. "We must develop new technologies keep the oil flowing while, at the same time, we insure that the environment is protected," he said. He said the country has also made major investments in hydro-electric projects and is pursuing wind and solar solutions as well.

Merizalde said that new discoveries of oil reserves in Ecuador’s southeastern jungle and natural gas in the ocean off of Guayaquil mean that the country should be energy self-sufficient well into the 21st century.

Photo caption: Rafael Correa