Yesterday, driving through Quito with my Ecuadorian host brother, I saw blood red graffiti on the side of a residential building that said “Lúcio, ¿quién financia tu silencio?” “Lúcio” refers to Lúcio Gutiérrez, the current president of Ecuador. “¿Quién financia tu silencio?” literally translates “Who finances your silence?” and refers to Ecuador’s continuing economic problems, which many people here blame on President Gutiérrez’s negotiations with international financial institutions like the IMF.
Poverty is inescapable here and the indigenous communities suffer the most. On the streets of Quito, men and women make their livings peddling goods as diverse as batteries, gum, phone cards, and Sponge Bob toys. Most of these people wear the traditional dress of the Ecuadorian highlands and their difficult lives are representative of the larger issues facing Ecuador today-poverty, regional and racial division, struggle.
Although the Centro de Derechos Económicos y Sociales (CDES) was initially founded to work on behalf of the indigenous communities of the Ecuadorian Amazon, the organization has expanded its mandate to encompass all issues of economic and social rights facing the country.
Basically, CDES works in three areas: investigation, documentation, and denunciation of economic and social rights violations; the impacts of globalization and Ecuador’s foreign debt crisis; and education about the domestic and international human rights systems.
It’s impressive the amount of work that the office has accomplished and continues to do everyday. However, CDES also suffers from a fair amount of disorganization-a problem endemic to NGOs and one with which I hope to help.
After speaking with Patricio Pazmiño, the director of CDES, it was decided that I would be charged with two main tasks during my time in Ecuador.
First, I will design a system to organize all of CDES’ contact information-names, e-mails, phone numbers of donors, government officials, other human rights organizations, etc. Second, I will write a report about how to better utilize the organization’s webpage. Also, he asked me to help with some miscellaneous translations, which will be great because I’ll get to learn more about CDES’ work. I’ll also hopefully have the opportunity to participate in some of their programs and travel through Ecuador with some of the staff.
All in all, it seems like I’m off to a good start here in Quito. The city is fascinating and so is the work of CDES. Although I will take the weekend to see some more of Quito, I am looking forward to another productive week at CDES.
Posted By Christina Fetterhoff
Posted Jun 11th, 2004