In the pursuit of modernization, heritage buildings are usually the first victims, and Guayaquil is no exception. Months ago, the sudden demolition of the municipal swimming pool, where one of the terminals of the Aerovía transport system will be located, provoked strong criticism and citizen complaints about the failure to take care of the traditional buildings of the city. Mayor Jaime Nebot responded vehemently: “Nothing and no one is going to stop the action that will benefit the population.”
But in the layout of the Aerovía, the pool is not the only heritage building that will be subject to intervention. The Cemetery of Foreigners, built in 1876 and whose management has been abandoned since 2014, is also part of the project.
The layout contemplates the placement of an intermediate station, located on Julián Coronel Street. To ensure its operation, a supporting pilaster for the transmission cables will be placed on the exterior of the cemetery, a neglected land where 191 tombs of the 19th century are located.
Camilo Ruiz, administrator of the Aerovía project, indicated that the structure will be placed on land adjacent to the cemetery and that its construction will not affect the site. “It will not be inside the cemetery, but on the side, in a plot of the Charity Board, so there will be no impact.”
This is not the opinion of the National Institute of Cultural Heritage, whose director, Luis Mueckay, said that after a study carried out jointly with technicians of the company that is in charge of the project, officials of the Ministry of Culture and Heritage and of the Undersecretary of Risk Management, it was determined that “the foundation works of the pilaster will undoubtedly cause deterioration in a radius of not less than 10 meters, constituting a direct impact to the area declared heritage (the cemetery)”.
The Luis Vernaza Hospital heliport, built for the transfer of patients in emergencies, will also be one of the areas affected by the passing of the Aerovía. According to the study of the project, approved by the Cabildo and located in its digital portal, it must be relocated, since its current site “interferes with the cable system”. According to the documents, the approval for this change was requested in 2016 from the National Directorate of Civil Aviation, which gave its consent.
Ruiz confirmed the intervention stating that “the cable will pass through there and the heliport will lose its operation … What will be done is to evaluate where is the best place to implement a new area so that the heliport meets all the requirements of the DAC “.
The decision is also a point of contention with the INPC, which explained to EXPRESO that “the entire site where Luis Vernaza Hospital is located is declared as Cultural Heritage. The heliport is located within the area of influence of the declaration. ”
The official added that in the case of the health center, so far the institution has not received a request for inspection from the Airway. This Journal consulted the Charity Board about the possible effects, but until the closing of this edition there was no response.
A law for protection
As EXPRESO published on Saturday, councilor Leonardo Bravo proposed the creation of an ordinance that marks the route to preserve the heritage of the city. According to the politician, the purpose of this law is “to stop the disrespect to the heritage that has existed in this time”. This raises the creation of a control unit responsible for the management, protection and intervention of traditional buildings, whose management passed legally to the Cabildo in 2014, but in Guayaquil is still in conflict with the Ministry of Culture and Heritage. (I)