( transcribed journal entry from 8/11/08, 10:53 a.m. )
I’m doing okay on the plane– a few tears at take off, and I blew some kisses toward Guasmo Sur behind us. I’m even okay with the idea of not coming back for a couple of years. I think communication will be much improved between my family and I in the interim, especially with the new computers in Mi Cometa and the possibility of video conferencing, which seems to have made it to the barrio. But I definitely want to go back someday in the not-too-distant-future, maybe with my husband or with people from my churches. The great thing about coming with so many people from the reunion groups is hearing from them that even after 5 or 7 or 10 years they are welcomed back as if they never left.
On the plane, Paula (another participant) and I met a man named Fransisco, who is from Guayaquil, but has lived in the U.S. on a visa for about 8 years between college and working in Florida. His family is from the “good” part of Guayaquil, and is relatively wealthy–or was. His father owned a company that President Correa is shutting down.
Fransisco has a very different view of Correa his proposed new constitution. He says the constitution will legalize abortion and homosexuality, which he opposes (but sounds important to me, though). Additionally, he says it’s a communist power-grab, like Chavez in Venezuela, and that it will take money and power from the wealthy and kick out foreign businesses under the guise of helping the poor, but the money will never get to them and the promises for services will never be met. I suppose that remains to be seen, but at the very least it has sown a seed of doubt in my mind, especially given that Correa recently shut down a lot of the news going out of Ecuador. That is often a precursor to someone solidifying his (or I suppose her) own power and/or declaring himself President for life. Fransisco thinks the poor are being brainwashed and duped into voting yes on the constitution, which promises to help them but won’t. He praised our project and our efforts, but encouraged us to use our relationships with the folks in Guasmo to tell them another side of the story. It’s enough for me to at least ask Erica (program leader/founder) what she thinks, if only because Ecuador’s having essentially a communist or anti-capitalist president in the spirit of his friend and ally, Chavez, allied with Venezuela against Columbia and by extension the U.S., might effect the relative ease with which volunteers such as ourselves enter and exit the country.
[edited to add: is it bad that looking at that photo again, I want to add a new caption? Chavez: "Wow, dude, when *I* was inagurated, the staff they gave me was only *this* big."]