They do have a president here, but I forget his name, and that’s probably a good sign. Nothing controversial. He’s a leftist they say, friendly with Evo Morales of Bolivia and Hugo Chávez of Venezuela. Funny how I remember their names, though.
The government here can be described as “a stable, corrupt democracy”. “Oh, it’s like ours!” you say. Well, maybe with a South American accent.
During the first ten years I had come to Ecuador there were ten presidents in succession (Three of them during the first week I was here, and I swear I had nothing to do with that). But the politics never affect our medical mission, except when the Indigenous go on strike and blockade certain roads. We simply go on different roads or re-schedule a clinic for a different day. So far so good.
Rafael Correa. Yeah, that’s his name. He don’t bother us none.
The largest political presence in Ecuador, except for the flag, is the image and likeness of Ernesto “Che” Guevara. In fact, his presence is probably second only to images of the Virgin Mary or Christ on the cross.
He’s a legend all over Latin America and his picture or drawing shows up on walls, buses, T-shirts, tourist paintings, postcards (got one on my fridge); and even the right-wing governments don’t get too worried these days. Che was shot by the Bolivian government in 1967 after encouraging a revolution there. I think the CIA had something to do with it.
Che was born in Argentina, became a medical doctor by training, yet abandoned that for politics. He aided Fidel Castro in the Cuban revolution and became part of Cuba’s government, doing his best to frustrate the United States. Til he got shot.
Enough politics. Happy Presidents’ Day!
(Edit while here in Ecuador: I haven´t seen very many images of Che this year for some reason, but on the first day when we were welcomed by the director of the San Miguel hospital in his office, there was—I swear—a portrait of Che, like the one at right, over the director´s desk. And in another clinic there was a portrait of Fidel Castro.)