Christina Fetterhoff

Christina Fetterhoff (Center for Economic and Social Rights, Ecuador): Christina was involved with human rights in Latin America long before she undertook her AP fellowship. She lived and studied for six months in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where she researched the role of Argentine human rights organizations during the 1976-1982 military dictatorship. She also traveled to Cuba as a delegate for MADRE, a women’s rights and humanitarian aid organization. Christina graduated from Bryn Mawr College in 2003 with a B.A. in Political Science. At the time of her fellowship, she was studying for an M.A. in Latin American Studies through Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service.

Independence Day

10 Aug

I am going to interrupt my blogs about the Amazon School to include some thoughts here about Ecuador’s Independence Day, which is celebrated today, August 10. As I rode the bus to CDES this morning, I looked around at the people sitting beside me and at the people passing in the streets outside, and wondered what independence and its sister, liberty, really meant to them-what those things really could mean to people living in a struggling country like Ecuador.

Yes, Ecuador is no longer ruled by Spain and it has enjoyed uninterrupted democracy for 25 years now, after periods of dictatorial rule and rebellion. But, can the majority of Ecuadorians truly claim to be independent and free when they are living on incomes of less than two dollars a day?

When the retired and elderly population spent weeks and weeks on hunger strike and the government still didn’t listen to their pleas? When that same government is considering signing a free trade agreement with the United States that will inevitably make the rich richer and the poor poorer, as the sad history of Latin America repeats itself once again, driven by the hands of those who have, instead of those who do not? Are Ecuadorians actually free?

There is a connection between the work that CDES does here and the true significance of Independence Day, I think. Independence means, after all, not being dominated by any one, being able to care for yourself, being given the opportunity to realize your self worth. Human rights cannot exist if there is no independence-if there is domination, or lack of opportunity.

And true independence cannot exist without respect for human rights because without human rights no one is free-free to realize his or her full potential as a human being, free to make choices that will better his or her life, free even to decide to eat chicken instead of fish, to take a cab one afternoon because you’re tired, instead of standing in the crowded heat on the bus.

CDES is dedicated not only to the realization of and respect for economic, social and cultural rights, but also to all of the positive consequences that these will have for the people of Ecuador-the opportunities for freedom that they will provide-so that Ecuadorians can truly celebrate their independence day. I hope that someday, because of the work of CDES and similar organizations, the little boy with the shoeshine kit and the indigenous woman selling gum and key chains standing on the corner outside the bus window, will be able to do this.

Posted By Christina Fetterhoff

Posted Aug 10th, 2004

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