• Monthly
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $other
  • use PayPal

ONE WEEK TO DOUBLE YOUR DONATION!

A generous CounterPuncher has offered a $25,000 matching grant. So for this week only, whatever you can donate will be doubled up to $25,000! If you have the means, please donate! If you already have done so, thank you for your support. All contributions are tax-deductible.
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

A 100 Days of Rafael Correa

“Just so that the rice would have a different flavor.”

There you have it. I had had to ask, “Why would anyone eat cuy? There is no meat on a cuy.”

A cuy, named after the sounds it makes ( I’m told), is a guinea pig… A child’s pet in the USA.

Guinea pig. Traditional food in Ecuador….. Rapidly reproducing, it is a repeatable pleasure.

(Currently McDonald’s, KFC and Tony Roma’s are also rapidly reproducing food with a presence in Ecuador.)

Enter Rafael Correa, a 44 year old with a Ph.D. in economics from Illinois. New president of Ecuador, former minister of finance.

100 days of Rafael. According to reports,he is threatening to sue private banks for overcharging interest rates, has set up a Truth Commission to investigate human rights abuses of the 80s-90s, is backing the $6 billion lawsuit against Chevron for allegedly polluting the Amazon,has limited tourism in the ecologically sensitive Galapagos Islands and has the support of the Ecuadoreans who passed a referendum allowing for the rewriting of the country’s constitution.

The L. A. Times (4/28/07) noted “Chevron said its net income in the 1st 3 months of 2007 totaled $4.7 billion”… Close. That would almost take care of the lawsuit. No problem.

The people I spoke with loved Rafael. A taxi driver shook his head as he said they hope to see him still alive at the end of 4 years.

It will be a cold day in hell when a US president sets out a “Citizen’s Revolution” to change the constitution, end corruption, revolutionize economics, health, education and recovery the nation’s dignity and sovereignty. Rafael doesn’t need a 1000 points of lights, just 5 or 6.

A New York Times byline of 4/15/07: “Ecuador, ever unstable, prepares for new leader’s plans”.

Why? Why “ever unstable”? Ask Philip Agee.

See the first half of Inside the company, CIA DIARY written in 1975. Agee recounts how the CIA directly caused massive instability during the Ecuadorean presidency of Velasco in the early 1960s. He outlines the “technical penetration” of each political party. And penetrate they did.

“CIA operations are crucial to the economic growth and political stability programmes, because of the inevitable capital flight and low private investment whenever communism becomes a threat. The Cuban revolution has stirred up and encouraged the forces of instability all over the hemisphere and it’s our job to put them down. CIA operations promote stability through assisting local governments to build up their security forces — particularly the police but also the military — and by putting down the extreme left. That, in a nutshell, is what we’re doing: building up the security forces and suppressing, weakening destroying, the extreme left.” (p 137 Agee).

I heard that, for now, Rafael still controls that military.

I was spending time in Quito, Ecuador living in a family’s high rise condo in the “new city” north of the central historical district. The guard at the condo was a polite 45 year old named Pedro. Pedro helped me with my spanish in his down time. He had a lot of down time.

He worked 12 hour shifts 6 days a week with no mention of holiday pay, lunch breaks or health insurance. His job was to open the front door during the day and lock it at night. A 9 mm gun was prominently displayed in the window of the guard station.

His job was to protect those who drove SUVs 5 miles to their jobs. Those who sent their high school children to the USA to learn English at age 16. Those who had no familiarity with cuy. Between he and his “senora” they brought home $250.00 per month. With this salary they took care of their 4 children in colegio, high school.

In the street was a scruffy child of indeterminate age and sex who helped direct drivers as they parallel parked. He caught a few tossed dimes for this. At intersections, besides the street vendors and shoeshiners, were jugglers and acrobats. They solicited coins as the light changed then gracefully sidestepped the traffic.

On page 251, Agee again:

“One has to wonder how the Ecuadorean working class can even stay alive to organize. Two weeks ago the President of the National Planning Board, in a general economic report to the Chamber of Deputies, revealed that the worker in 1961 received an average monthly income of only 162 sucres — about $7.00”.

It’s all relative almost 50 years later.

Pedro was raised in the province of Loja near the capital in an adobe house w/ a “zinc”or tin roof. 5 people lived in one room. He would have preferred a more ample living situation. Explained families would add on a room when they could. He had 7 siblings.

He talked of poverty, of eating less in order to save a little money in banks that then went belly up, of counting 25,000 sucres to each dollar and then suddenly in the year 2000, with dollarization, counting far fewer dollars.

He asked about life in the US, wondering how much better his life would be there.

I listened, eyebrows arching ever higher , to tales of coyotes taking his tios, sobrinos and other relatives “al otro lado”, to the other side, to the United States, to “Nueva” Jersey. For the price of $20,000.00 USD (and I double checked that number) a coyote would transport you through Mexico and, he said, through Arizona. Exactly where his family crossed was hazy. He described a veritable underground railroad of connections all the way to New Jersey.

One night at I sat in his guard station chair eating cookies with him as he told a family story. One of his best friends and an uncle who had crossed the border were on a USA bus. There was an accident. His best friend died and the uncle fled limping from the accident site . If he was caught he would be deported. Inexplicably he made it successfully to New Jersey, found restaurant work and brought his family over one by one.

I marvelled at how someone who could only afford rice and cuy could afford $20,000.00 for a coyote.

Pedro knew how. Latin American family ties are tight and reach far and wide. Loans are rapid and plentiful as possible. Coyotes extract their pay for years from those who cross over. But, Pedro said, 3 strikes and you were out. If you were caught and deported 3 times, the coyote’s job was over. You still owed him the $20,000.00.

Pedro has high hopes for new Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa and his “21st century socialism”. He hopes his social programs come to fruition, hopes he can last in his presidency the entire 4 years, hopes that the sucre will return.

But most of all Pedro hopes that one day he can go to “al otro lado”.

KATHY RENTENBACH’s previous essay for CounterPunch was “Oaxaca Report: Will there be Huesos?

 

 

More articles by:
bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
Weekend Edition
October 18, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Anthony DiMaggio
Trump as the “Anti-War” President: on Misinformation in American Political Discourse
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Where’s the Beef With Billionaires?
Rob Urie
Capitalism and the Violence of Environmental Decline
Paul Street
Bernie in the Deep Shit: Dismal Dem Debate Reflections
Andrew Levine
What’s So Awful About Foreign Interference?
T.J. Coles
Boris Johnson’s Brexit “Betrayal”: Elect a Clown, Expect a Pie in Your Face
Joseph Natoli
Trump on the March
Ashley Smith
Stop the Normalization of Concentration Camps
Pete Dolack
The Fight to Overturn the Latest Corporate Coup at Pacifica Has Only Begun
Jeremy Kuzmarov
Russophobia at Democratic Party Debate
Chris Gilbert
Forward! A Week of Protest in Catalonia
Daniel Beaumont
Pressing Done Here: Syria, Iraq and “Informed Discussion”
Daniel Warner
Greta the Disturber
M. G. Piety
“Grim Positivism” vs. Truthiness in Biography
John Kendall Hawkins
Journey to the Unknown Interior of (You)
Christopher Fons – Conor McMullen
The Centrism of Elizabeth Warren
Nino Pagliccia
Peace Restored in Ecuador, But is trust?
Rebecca Gordon
Extorting Ukraine is Bad Enough But Trump Has Done Much Worse
Kathleen Wallace
Trump Can’t Survive Where the Bats and Moonlight Laugh
Clark T. Scott
Cross-eyed, Fanged and Horned
Eileen Appelbaum
The PR Campaign to Hide the Real Cause of those Sky-High Surprise Medical Bills
Olivia Alperstein
Nuclear Weapons are an Existential Threat
Colin Todhunter
Asia-Pacific Trade Deal: Trading Away Indian Agriculture?
Sarah Anderson
Where is “Line Worker Barbie”?
Brian Cloughley
Yearning to Breathe Free
Jill Richardson
Why are LGBTQ Rights Even a Debate?
Jesse Jackson
What I Learn While Having Lunch at Cook County Jail
Kathy Kelly
Death, Misery and Bloodshed in Yemen
Maximilian Werner
Leadership Lacking for Wolf Protection
Arshad Khan
The Turkish Gambit
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Rare Wildflower vs. Mining Company
Dianne Woodward
Race Against Time (and For Palestinians)
Norman Ball
Wall Street Sees the Light of Domestic Reindustrialization
Ramzy Baroud
The Last Lifeline: The Real Reason Behind Abbas’ Call for Elections
Binoy Kampmark
African Swine Fever Does Its Worst
Nicky Reid
Screwing Over the Kurds: An All-American Pastime
Louis Proyect
“Our Boys”: a Brutally Honest Film About the Consequences of the Occupation
Coco Das
#OUTNOW
Cesar Chelala
Donald Trump vs. William Shakespeare
Ron Jacobs
Calling the Kettle White: Ishmael Reed Unbound
Stephen Cooper
Scientist vs. Cooper: The Interview, Round 3 
Susan Block
How “Hustlers” Hustles Us
Charles R. Larson
Review: Elif Shafak’s “10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World”
David Yearsley
Sunset Songs
October 17, 2019
Steve Early
The Irishman Cometh: Teamster History Hits the Big Screen (Again)
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail