Celebrating the first critical comment – a great day for the blog!

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The same blog entry that brought the visitor number above 3000 also spawned the first critical, almost antagonistic comment. Great stuff – that means that we have reached someone beyond the immediate circles of friends, family and usual suspects with the same political frame of mind. A happy day. Thank You, Paulina!

I offer a response in English – since my Castellano simply is nowhere near good enough for a sensible reply and because the comment was obviously made on the basis of an English text, suggesting that the commenter can read English….

Dear Paulina,

Pido tus disculpas pero mi castellano no es tan bueno y como parece que lees bien el ingles te voy a responder en ingles. Si me equivoco o si no entiendes cualquier cosa, avísame y intentaré de traducirlo para tí.

Thank you very much for your comment. We have received it with great pleasure! and we would like to offer some clarifications and reiterations.

We’re not sceptical about the new currents, we highly applaud them, they are needed. In the entry it is also noted that “that Correa is getting on well and pissing off the old elite” – and that is a good thing. To be sure!

What we’re sceptical about, rather, is the old currents…..

We are sceptical of the old way of doing things – business as usual. Thus, what concerns us, in particular, are the future conditions of the natural environment and the indigenous peoples – and everyone else who will have to live in a world fuelled by oil, wood and other resources from the Amazon. Hence, we’re sceptical about what the real-political processes will do to the grass-roots ideals that are at the heart of the constituent assembly. So, therefore, we agree that there are grass-roots processes at play – these we never wanted or will want to deny, but neither do we want to celebrate them blindly as a won cause, without first worrying seriously about what will happen to them!!  There is still a long way to go. Up the ladder.

The processes for the constituent assembly indeed are interesting!! – and we work with people involved on a variety of levels of that process, so we’re not, as you suggest, completely unknowing and without wits in this context – the constituent assembly is, as has been pointed out several times in the blog, something like half a revolution. A good thing.

The scepticism comes into play when the corporate media already is presenting the outcome of the asamblea as a result of a power struggle between Correa and Gutierrez – and, much more importantly:

Where were “the people” of Ecuador when Correa recently visited Lula and signed agreements (convenios) to have Brasil invest billions of dollars in natural resource extraction in the Amazon?

What good, at the end of the day, is a rewritten constitution, when the contracts to destroy the forest have already been signed? When the autonomy and self-determination of the indigenous nationalities have already been profoundly undermined? (That’s an unintended pun, –mined)

We notice that you live in Madrid, Spain, Europe, so, and this goes for people who live in Quito and elsewhere out of touch with the Amazon as well, it is obvious that you cannot see what is going on out here. No one can – for no one wants to provide media coverage, – if they can avoid it. The Amazon, although “everybody somehow knows” that there are “some problems” there, is terra incognito; the public as such, inside and outside of Ecuador, are basically kept in the dark about the actual developments – and there are many! All the time!

Chinese oil companies are coming; now even to Napo, which not too long ago had decided to be an eco-tourism province with *NO* oil. What happened??

Correa might be all good intentions – and he has good ideas, plans and prospects, but nevertheless: two days, almost literally, after Correa took office the news spread like wildfire in the Napo civil society and the entire Ecuadorian environmental movement: the Chinese are coming to town, they want to get the oil and Correa is happy to give it to them.

Where were the people’s voices?

If you believe that there is really a major transformation from below occurring, and that 5000 years of patriarchal rule is just going to roll over and let people, well-meaning citizens, tickle them on the belly, we really do admire your optimism. But obviously this level of the process will almost in all questions be subject to economists and professionals and experts – who simply by definition are not “the people”. Even in a country with very high levels of education, there will always be a gap between those who know and those who do not know (how the world of politics is run and how it is subjected to economic equations) and those who have and those who do not have.

All that said, there are indeed some good processes in motion from below – and the people will learn a lot from them, especially from their disappointments when they see their ideas and demands being written out of the final draft. (Just look to the UN to see what kind of dodgy and corrupt process it is to articulate conventions.) Many valuable lessons will be learned and useful experiences gathered, – no doubt about it.

For instance, we have first hand knowledge that the indigenous/traditional healers are making some good alliances with the modern/western-styled doctors and that there is some potential in their movement towards further entrenchment and institutionalisation in the Ecuadorian society as a respected and useful way of healing people. There might even be healers in Ecuadorian hospitals in the future, if they get their way, and the doctors support them. For now. This process we will follow with great anticipation and interest!

However, given our involvement with the indigenous and campesino movements, we have to say that there is so much power politics in the “grass-roots” politics in Ecuador that we cannot even begin to describe how horrible things can get, but will offer just a few words: corruption, big cars, extreme nepotism and so on. (…guess that is equal to the term politics and goes without saying…)

Just because there is a movement called this or that, claiming to represent these or those people, it does far from mean that there is an involvement of “the people” – from below.

What we are really observing in Ecuador is the creation of a new layer, a new stratification in society, and that is an elitist civil society, which will make it look like Europe. Great place, Europe, is it not? Hardly any very rich people, – there is equality, a clean environment, good wages, no racism and a general sense of well being. No poverty, all
health and wealth is distributed evenly. Or?

With Best Wishes,
colono y colona

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4 thoughts on “Celebrating the first critical comment – a great day for the blog!

    Paulina said:
    Wednesday, April 18, 2007 at 03:06 (171)

    Hi,
    I’m sorry I didn’t answer in English the first time. Spanish is my mother language, and given the predictions, I thought you might live in Ecuador. I’m sorry.

    I just want to clarify where my optimism comes from. I think mostly from the idea that I don’t believe in a “full revolution” as a finished product, and therefore, a “half-revolution” is a concept that I can’t understant. I think Ecuador is undergoing a transformation PROCESS, which is very “revolutionary” (different, new) because the protagonists are the people. I don’t believe things will become ideal from one day to another. When I try to imagine “revolution”, I can only see a process in time, and yes, this is only the beginning.

    I migrated years ago, but I grew up in Ecuador, went to school there, my family lives there, and, if my savings let me, I try to visit once a year. I have never heard people talk about their indian pride, black pride or mestizo pride, as now. People are expressing PUBLICLY a lot of dignity.

    We inheret hundreds of years of inequality. I don’t believe in governence on one man’s shoulders, so I don’t believe that Correa will omnipotently bring change. I am optimistic because I do believe he has a good predisposition to listen to people’s demands. So, no doubts, signing those contracts is terrible. His Environment Minister is a woman who is quickly losing popularity. (as I heard an Awá native comment on his commnunity’s problems). But I remain optimistic because I trust people’s knowledge and desires,and for the first time they have space to set out their demands.

    I understand your doubts (especially seeing the Argentina case with Kischner), but I want to believe people are convinced of what they want, and that is to burry the old politics.

    colono responded:
    Wednesday, April 18, 2007 at 09:26 (435)

    I think that we’re still at cross purposes here, which makes me wonder if you actually understand the point(s) made in the blog entry – which by no means is to say that the fault is yours, rather that it has probably not been put well enough.

    When, for instance, you say “given the predictions, I thought you might live in Ecuador. I’m sorry” it is clear that you have missed substantial parts of the entry in which it clearly says that we _work in Ecuador_ (for which it is essential to _live in Ecuador_ – and the rest of the blog is, more or less, only about life in the Ecuadorian Amazon.

    Nevertheless, where you see the beginning of a process, I see the end coming. I see the mechanisms of real-politics strangling the revolution – and I see the end of the process as a consequence of the design of that process: 130 people in a few months to rewrite the constitution, all the while Ecuador sinks deeper into the economic flows of global capitalism?

    Not just the environment minister is unpopular. There were soon after Correa took office strikes in el Oro, because the agriculture minister (a personal friend of Noboa, who is a big shot in the flower export industry, which uses unorganised child labour and ridiculous amounts of chemicals) threatens the small-scale independent banana farmers with “improvement” – that is: intensified farming practices, or a “state-of-the-art capitalist mode of production”.

    With regards to “half a revolution” – well, neither I believe in an overnight sensation and what I mean with “half” is simply “half-heartedness” and a poor design and a systematic disregard of democratic mehcanisms when it comes to the issues that really matters for the indigenous peoples of the Amazon: oil, oil, oil.

    Correa (and Chavez) without the shadow of a doubt have some great plans for social improvement within the social-democratic and essentially capitalist way of doing things – and they are great; but they just don’t cut the mustard from an anti-capitalist perspective, since they are simply tickets to create more affluent consumers of more products.

    The Latin American integration efforts are all about more and more involvement in capitalism – the only difference being that in this new era they want self-determination in the game.

    Correa is a capitalist. Nothing more, nothing less? « colonos said:
    Monday, May 7, 2007 at 17:09 (756)

    […] is a capitalist. Nothing more, nothing less? Recently an ex-pat Ecuadorian commented in this blog that we had it all wrong and that our pessimism was disrespectful to the Ecuadorian people. It now seems that our opinions […]

    magxzv said:
    Tuesday, June 12, 2007 at 00:29 (061)

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