Traveling to Ecuador gave me a different insight of implementation of 21st Century Socialism. What we have discussed so far in Venezuela is a revolution that is deeply transformative. However, looking into the situation of Venezuela back in December 2014 and now, Venezuelan revolutionary situation looks grim. Though I was traveling to Ecuador on purely holiday basis, I could not escape from the sights on how the Citizen’s revolution is impacting Ecuador.
To give you a quick context, like Bolivia in 1990s, Ecuador was highly unstable country. Though Ecuador returned to democracy far earlier than other Latin American countries (1979), the democratic governments failed to deliver the needs of the pueblo (the people). Reformist Preisdent Jaime Roldos, which I believe gave a glimmer of hope in early 80s, was assassinated. Subsequent Presidents of Ecuador hardly improved or worst still, led to deterioration of Ecuador. In the 1990s, the pueblo rose many times to overthrow strings of Presidents. In 1999, Ecuador faced one of the worst economic crisis and the pueblo looked to Lucio Gutierrez, a colonel to save the country. Though Gutierrez promised reforms in early 2000s, his turn around on policies in favouring neoliberalism and inviting back a discredited President of Ecuador, Bucaram led to bigger protests. When he called the protestors outlaws, that sealed his end in 2005. In 2007, Ecuador was governed by self proclaimed socialists (who behaves more like pragmatist) Rafael Correa who brought much needed political and economic stability of the country.
In this post, I will be focusing more what I saw the tangible outcomes of the Citizen’s Revolution (led by Rafael Correa). One of the first things I have noticed is the massive difference between Quito Airport and Caracas Airport. Quito recently replaced its old dangerous airport with a new one on top of plateau. Unlike Caracas Airport, Quito Airport is brand new and even nominated as one of the best airports in Latin America.
What caught my attention immediately the new highway connecting the new airport with Quito city. When you drive along the highway, for one moment, you might be wondering, is this in South America or Australia? The kerbs, the sidewalks and the design of the highway just blew my mind. We traveled across a bridge, which was just opened by Rafael Correa on that day!
Quito is beautiful and well preserved heritage city. Unlike Caracas, much of the historic centre of Quito is very reflective of the Spanish colonial rule. One of the things I noticed in Quito was dedicated bicycle lanes. Though I am not saying every street in Quito would have the lanes, in my opinion, there is shifting attitude in moving around the city. It may stem the fact that Rafael Correa likes cycling and cycling in permanent springtime in Quito is perfect! No sweating!
As I traveled with group of friends across the country, I took a strong notice of the impact of the revolution on the country. Unlike Venezuela, government propaganda billboards are hard to find. There are no big posters of Rafael Correa. The highways in Ecuador once more blew my mind away. It is as though you are traveling in Canada or any country with advanced highway systems. Ecuador is notorious for dangerous roads and they have successfully duplicated with proper in-road lighting system to make the roads safer.
Far more than just good roads, I also saw a good symbol of inclusion policy of Citizen Revolution. Every new pedestrian bridge made in Ecuador is mandated to accommodate the disabled people. Hence the ramps to reach the bridge structure would be circular or longer. I have not seen anything similar in Venezuela.
In many rural towns, I see there were new bus stops and pedestrian crossings. Citizen Revolution has touched nearly every part of Ecuador that I have seen. In rural towns such as Tena, there is an internet centre built by the government called InfoCentro. Tena is one of the gateways to thick Amazonian region. Like in Venezuela, it brings internet to the most remote communities across the country
Having said that, what I have seen is small glimpse about the revolution. I have seen personally the issue of corruption in Ecuador and did not see much people empowerment structures. However, when I left Ecuador, I left with immense respect what Ecuador has achieved so far. I left with hope that Ecuador can keep on progressing and the hope still remains in me as I write this post.
Venezuela achieved a deeper revolution that are transforming everyone’s life (just beyond education and health). Ecuador, through its own revolution, achieved a new model of good governance. Each leftist country in Latin America is charting their own way forward in removing barriers to human potential.