Ecuador´s diversity, retire and live overseas while respecting local nature and a multicultural ethnics.
Posted by Lina Landivar
Ecuador is a multiethnic nation-state, my purpose today is to provide you with a close up of the rich multicultural side in this latitude. I will also try to show you different views about ethnics in this small country and the Hispanic culture, the good and the not so good issues their culture have.
Hopefully, I will provide you with proper information needed when you start making your selection: Is Ecuador an option for you to live or retire? or maybe check other options of where to retire or live overseas.
Lately Ecuador has become one of the best options for people that want a cheap and affordable place to retire or move overseas for a new life. It is a wonderful small country, it takes a bit of going with the flow and opening up our senses to be able to adapt and learn Ecuadorian´s cultural traditions.
A bit of Hispanic history.-
The past 12 of October (or the nearest Monday to it) is traditionally celebrated throughout the Americas as the day Christopher Columbus arrived in 1492.
In English speaking countries, the day is celebrated as Columbus Day or Native American Day.
In Spanish speaking countries and communities, it is known as Día de la Raza, the Day of the Race.
Día de la Raza is the celebration of the Hispanic heritage of Latin America and brings into it all the ethnic and cultural influences making it distinctive.
Controversies have developed around this holiday in recent years. Some people oppose Columbus Day, claiming his achievements are not worthy of a holiday. He did not, in fact “discover” America, since the land was already inhabited, and the Vikings had explored the North American coast 500 years earlier.
There is also controversy surrounding the treatment of the native people of the Americas by Columbus and by Spanish conquistadors, and some people view the holiday as a celebration of conquest and genocide by the Spaniards. In its place, some people celebrate “Indigenous Peoples Day.”
Now, 500 plus years later, we recall his deeds and celebrate not Columbus the man, but the actions and influences of all the people who came after him, who melded their European culture with the indigenous cultures and, with difficulty, blood and years of battle, misunderstandings and treachery, have created the multi-cultural, multi-ethnic society we now celebrate with the Día de la Raza.
Is ECUADOR multicultural tolerant today?
After Canada had nurtured my identity in a warm society where humans are acknowledged and accepted no matter how they look like, my embracing for so many years of this “social consciousness” came to a halt. The real Latin Culture immersion showed me the social unconformities they live by. This sprang in me a unique desire to finds ways that will contribute towards a more equal society in this morally base Latin World.
Every day that goes by in Ecuador is a reminder for me to celebrate and embrace the Latino culture and the trailblazers who have paved the way for respect and inclusion. Ecuador possesses great ethnic, racial and linguistic diversity. It is populated by more than twelve indigenous peoples, each with their own language, and Afro-Ecuadorian and mestizo populations. All these diverse ethnics have added great moral and family values to society in Ecuador today.
I also have to say that there is a lot of room for improvement. Remember, this is an emerging economy which also means that their society has to go through changes. They do have an advantage over developed nations, if they decide to learn from previous social mistakes and experiences. Here is where international travelers, overseas retirees or foreigners living in Ecuador could contribute with knowledge and expertise to local communities.
Ecuadorian society is in large magnitude fragmented. The separation in distinct social classes runs mostly along racial lines.
The dominant populace is descended primarily from Spanish colonists and settlers and to a lesser extent from German, Italian, and Lebanese. This is around 10% of the population mostly white upper class. They live very well in the upper echelons of the society and identify themselves more with a foreigner than with his own countrymen.
Part of the history of this country reflects the white or Spanish ruling and the Indians and Mestizos serving them. They consider them generally lazy and uneducated and the main obstacle why the country is not advancing. Ecuadorians point to a country like Argentina and believe that the reason they are better off is because of their low level of indigenous people.
This upper class lives very well and sends their children to the best private schools and later on often to foreign universities. This group later then takes over the power from their parents and makes up the majority of the political and economic leadership of the country, thinking mostly in their own well being and not the country as a whole.
Ecuador has a smaller middle class, around 25%, also partly white and partly of mixed blood Mestizo, who are the link between the two extremes. They tend, of course, to associate themselves much more with the white upper class as they strive of being part of it. Some of them to the extreme of denying their Indian heritage completely. They may even get insulted if you ever suggest that they have Indian blood in them.
Remember this is no the standard middle class known to North America. Their needs are more in the line of basic services; they do not have the advance education and knowledge which inhibits the people to fight against their desired ideal. Actual Politicians manipulate this middle class to their advantage, they will misuse their wish to be considered part of the white upper class. This group constitutes the majority of people who leave the country to look for job opportunities overseas. More than half a million Ecuadorians work now legally or illegally in foreign countries.
The poor Indian class certainly does not deny their heritage anymore and seem to get prouder of it every day. The largest part of the population, mostly mixed, indigenous and black people, who live around the poverty line.
After a long slumber, they start to become a political and social force in the country, fighting the historical injustices done to them. The last events, e.g. the expulsion of the last president in 1999, where they played an important part, indicate their newfound confidence and right to fight for their well being. But of course, it has also the effect of alienating against other segments of the society, who consider their actions counterproductive and so widening the gap between them even further.
Ecuadorians are slowly realizing they have to brake away from the vicious cycle of mistrust between the various groups with each of them having their own way of thinking and doing things. They will have to educate themselves to feel as part of a bigger good and striving for the same ideals.
The actual president, to my humble opinion, it is a reflection of those approaching changes. I am not an expertise in Political Science, but base on my experiences Mr. President Rafael Correa is the result of the pressure that the middle and poor class have had so far. If he is the correct choice or not, I am not the one to clarify it, my conclusion would be that it is a good starting point. They still have a long way to evolve through their policies in the years to come.
One thing is for sure the upper class has to come with the acceptance of the new trend of social involvement, which is also evident in other South American countries, they will continue with more and more indigenous leaders entering the political arena, and activists starting grassroots movements and organizing their people, they will constitute a considerable percentage of the population (in some opinions up to 40%) and therefore hold important electoral power.
www.nclr.org (National Council La Raza)
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Posted on October 17, 2011, in Personal Experience while in Ecuador and tagged Culturo of Ecuador, Ecuador travel, Living in Ecuador, Social Classes of Ecuador, Social enviroment in Ecuador, visiting Ecuador. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.