dinsdag 9 juli 2013

Ecuador: A Banana Republic?

About Ecuador

Ecuador is a very small country but nevertheless a place with a enormous bio diversity.
It's territory is devided in 3 parts: coastal region, the Andes and tropical rainforest and 1000 km from the coast the Galapagos Islands are an important source of biodiversity.

Ecuador thanks his name to a French expedition that came to measure in 1739 the place where the equator of the earth would be. The Equator is located right above Quito.

Ecuador has 14 million citizens, but because of a bad politic and social history some 2,5 million Ecuadorians live abroad. Which is very different from other countries like Brasil and Peru Where most of the people never left their own country.

The last 10 years there has been a lot of changes made and the country is developping more en more. Rafael Correa Delgado is the actual president since 2007. He is a leftwing politician (Izquierdista) from the party "La Revolución Ciudadana". He studied Economics, like my mother, and had a good connections with Hugo Chavez, the former president of Venezuela. He died 5 March (2013).
Correa he studied in different international Universities. His wife is Belgian, he met her during his studies in Louvain-La-Neuve, the sistercity of Leuven, where I was born.

So the country went the last 10 years from very poor, unreliable and corrupt to a fast developping country.
Changes that have been made:

- They reconstructed the roads, a trip that took you before 12 hours you can do in 6h now.
- They started to rise the taxes, wich gives the government money to invest in new hospitals and initiate a social security system.
- They did judicial reforms, in order to fight corruption
- They reformed their treaties with foreign and international compagnies active in Ecuador. Before compagnies didn't have to pay a lot of taxes, now:

1. Old foreign compagnies keep 20% of their profit, the Ecuadorians governement gets 80%

2. New foreign compagnies keep 40% and  Ecuador keeps 60%

A kind of system to regain all the profit that Ecuador has lost throughout all these years of corruption.
More countries should put in charge such a system. The whole of Latin America and Africa thas been plundered throughout history and most of it is still going on. And the majority of the profit always went/and still goes to European and North American compagnies.

When talking to a lot of Ecuadorians I discovered that lot's of people like their president and lot's of them dislike Correa, because of structuring and controling the media and forbidding syndicates to protest.
He is a very controversial man with sometimes extreme thoughts and he isn't scared to reprove (berispen, NL) the U.S. ambassador in Ecuador. In some ways that courageous, in others it could threaten their economic agreements.

I'm reading the book "Ecuador: de Banana Republic a la No República", written by Rafael Correa himself., to understand more what's his point of view and what the plans of Correa's governement are.

My trip

From Machala (see my last story) I went to Cuenca, the third biggest city of Ecuador. A beautiful colonial city, with a quiet European look and lot's of cultural activities. And from there I went to "Inti Raymi", the Inca's "Festival for the sun", which still is being celebrated by people from the Andes in Bolivia, Peru, Mexico and Ecuador.

From Cuenca I continued to Puerto Lopez at the coast to watch the wails and visit 'Isla de Plata', or 'Bird Shit Island', their shit gives the Island a silver shine and makes it smell like ammoniac. Thanks birds!
This Island hosts lot's of beautiful birds that only come and breed here because the island is protected.

After 1 day of coast tourism back to the mountains, Baños de Agua Santa. A small and cozy town dedicated to alternative therapies and full of health centers. The Tungurahua volcano next to it provides the 'baños termales' from the city, the natural termal baths, from hot water.
Baños is a great place for outdoor activities and going out at night. And my stay in the wonderfull hostel 'Casa del Molino Blanco' and meeting very nice people, made me stay longer. Elba was a really nice host. She takes good care of the visitors and her hostel.

Quito, the second highest capital (2850 m) in the world, is a big city, with a beautifull historic center. And a lot of nice and helpfull people. But you kneed to be carefull, there are a lot's pickpockets and thieves.
On monday I had the opportunity to see the change of the guards at the precidential palace, with Rafael Correa being present.
Next to the city I visited 'La Mitad del Mundo', where the equator passes. And you can play some games testing the centrifugal forces of the earth, being different on each side of the equator.

Now i'm back in Lima.

Enough stories, time for some pictures:


Museum about traditional Ecuadorian heads from

Inside the factory/shop 

Me  and Florian (fr)

The 'Inti Raymi' festival in Ingapirca

The morning after...

Puerto Lopez

a 'little' swordfish 


... and more fish!


 Isla de Plata  or  Bird Shit Island

Blue Footed Boobies

Fluffy bird 

A very sick bird

Baños de Agua Santa

Best hostel of Ecuador!!  

The termal baths

Edwin Vieira, the owner of the 'Blah Blah' bar and strong campaigner for Correa the president.

Correa used the idea of Mr. Vieira for making a comic about Correas achievements.as a president in his first legislature. 
"The only thing Correa did right ..."


Ceremonial change of the guards of the presidential palace.

President Rafael Correa, with his apostles. 

The fake middle of the earth
The equator like the French expedition measured it in 1739.

The real equator measured by GPS, 200 m next to the monument.

Hasta la pasta