Well, I guess I should start off and explain that we haven’t had many problems here in Cuenca. But it would be naive to think that crime isn’t a problem here. It is a problem in every city. Being smart about where you are and at what time of day is important in almost every part of the world.
Update (June 8, 2014): We were robbed the same day this post published. We published a post discussing it today.
Dangerous Areas in Cuenca Ecuador
Here are the five worst areas, as identified by the National Police:
- La Merced (just down from Luis Cordero on Calle Larga) La Merced is identified as selling the highest volume of narcotics in Cuenca.
- Bus Station (Terminal Terrestre) located out by the airport
- Cayambe (north of Avenida de las Americas, known in the papers as “la zona de tolerancia”)
- Market Nueve de Octubre (mercado Nueve de Octubre)
- Feria Libre (Cuencas largest open market, located on Avenida de las Americas)
Recently, there have been a number of murders in Cayambe. The chief of police here in Cuenca, Germán Cevallos, has identified those deaths as revenge murders between two groups trying to take control of the drug market.
Would I want to live in any of these areas? No, I don’t think so – because we know that its dangerous at night.
Five Dangerous Areas in Cuenca
What Drugs are Being Sold in Cuenca?
The article identifies cocaine derivatives and marijuana as the most common drugs being sold. Lenin Bolaños, Azuay Police Commander (comandante de Policía del Azuay), noted that eradication, as discussed by some politicians, is not very reasonable. But through joint police, government and community efforts this problem can be controlled.
So, Is Cuenca Ecuador Dangerous?
So all of this begs the question: Is Cuenca Safe for Expats? Well, I guess that depends.
- Time of day is important. We’ve been in all of these places during the day, except Cayambe, and never had any trouble. La Merced is beautiful in the daytime and actually a bit of a hangout for many expats. Nighttime is a different story.
- Are you planning on selling drugs? If this is on your list of possible income sources in Cuenca then you might find yourself at risk. Okay, probably not likely. But lifestyle does play a significant role in safety. A person could become a victim in the safest city in the world just as easily as someone else could have no problems at all in one of the most dangerous ones. Safety depends so much on what you are doing in those places.
- The answer really depends on what you are used to. Your comfort level can affect your perception of safety. If you aren’t used to hearing about drug dealers killing each other, then you might not want to live in Cuenca. Although it is uncommon, it does happen. This isn’t like in parts of Mexico or the US where this is everyday stuff. These crimes make front page news here – that alone should tell you that is is rare.