Monday, February 16, 2015


As I have written elsewhere, when Simon Bolivar liberated Middle and Central America from the Spanish, he created a vast kingdom named Gran Colombia, including most of what is now Colombia, Panama, Venezuela, northern Peru, north-west Brazil, western Guyana and Ecuador. It didn’t last very long. What became Ecuador, with its capital in Quito, was a mix of aboriginal tribes, Spanish colonists and the descendants of African slaves – though Spanish is the official language, there are twelve other unofficial languages in wide usage.

After Ecuador became founded, nothing much happened for the next several decades, but in the 1960s Ecuador discovered oil, and oil means American oil companies who take most of the profit home with them, so Ecuador stayed poor, and then got hit badly by El Nino, so that the economy went from finely balanced into deep recession; though somehow the Spanish colonists managed to remain affluent even when the indigenous groups plunged into total desperation.

When not stealing its oil, the USA worries that Ecuador is being used as a through-route for Colombian drugs and as a cash-placement centre (the terminology belongs to the CIA) for drug traffickers and Colombian insurgents; which it is, so it is a reasonable concern; but extreme poverty is also a reasonable concern, and the USA doesn't seem to be putting anything like the same amount of energy, let alone dollars, into dealing with that little problem. 

Military governments misruled Ecuador through the 1970s, but it returned to what passes in our world for democracy in 1979, and has stayed fairly stable since. Anyone who is literate can vote; there is a Constitution which is mostly upheld; and groups like Amnesty International have had little to complain about: some restrictions on NGOs and freedom of expression, some intimidation of journalists who have then been subjected to “public denunciation” and “retaliatory litigation”, some concerns that the judiciary is being consistently undermined; in 2012, for example, judges were advised that they would be dismissed if they supported any citizen who brought litigation against the government for upholding its constitutional rights. Yet the law that prohibits anyone from publishing anything that might favour a political message or candidate has been enforced across the political spectrum, so that there is no political inequality, but no political debate either. So there you have it, a truly, fair, open and democratic Fascist state.

The territories of Ecuador include the Galapagos Islands, 600 miles off the coast, less known for their volcanoes than for providing a living laboratory for Darwin's evolutionary theories - land and marine iguanas, flightless cormorants, giant tortoises, huge cacti, trees found nowhere else on the planet, and multiple subspecies of mockingbirds and finches that likewise depend on the 19 islands' isolation from the world in order to ensure natural selection and the survival of the fittest.


Marks For: 3

Marks Against: 7

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