The people of Ecuador are rising up to refound their country as a pluri-national homeland for all. This inspiring movement, with Ecuador's indigenous peoples at its heart, is part of the revolution spreading across the Americas, laying the groundwork for a new, fairer, world. Ecuador Rising aims to bring news and analysis of events unfolding in Ecuador to english speakers.

Monday, September 24, 2007

President promises power to expats

BY CASEY WOODS, Miami Herald, 23 September, 2007


In sweeping words, Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa offered Florida's expatriates something they've never had: full political representation.

''Ecuador can no longer think of itself as a land of four regions,'' Correa said Saturday at a community meeting in Miami. ``It's time that you made your presence felt.''

Correa proposed the creation of an official ''Fifth region'' for those living abroad -- one that, like the four regions within Ecuador's borders, would have a proportional share of congressional deputies.

Expatriate representation is just one idea that Correa pledges to implement if his allies gain control of the Constitutional Assembly in Sept. 30 elections.

The assembly would have vast powers to reshape Ecuador's government. Once in control, Correa and his supporters vowed to dissolve the opposition-controlled Congress, which Correa describes as corrupt.

Critics have denounced the assembly as a power grab by Correa, a leftist ally of Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez.

Ecuadoreans living abroad will have a say in the assembly: six of the 130 delegates will be chosen by expatriates, including two from the United States and Canada.

Correa's message resonated with the more than 350 Ecuadoreans from South Florida who crowded into a meeting hall at the Sofitel, a hotel near Miami International Airport.

''Before, immigrants left and they were forgotten,'' said Arturo Carrillo, 60, a Miami resident. ``He's the only one who has tried to take care of immigrants.''

Correa also spoke of other proposals. Among them:

To establish a bank where expatriate Ecuadoreans can establish a credit history through remittances.

To suspend taxes on equipment and property Ecuadoreans bring with them when they return to their homeland.

Correa already has created a government ministry dedicated to expatriates' needs.

More than three million Ecuadoreans have moved abroad, to escape chronic poverty and instability. More than 150,000 Ecuadoreans, including 2,200 in Florida, are registered to vote abroad. About 60,000 Ecuadoreans in total reside in Florida.

''For us, [the immigration] is a national tragedy,'' Correa said. ``Very few people leave their own country because they want to.''

After his speech, the meeting dissolved into a chaotic scene resembling a rock concert. People pushed to the dais, pressing proposals, babies and papers to autograph into Correa's hands.

The local Ecuadorean League beauty queen belted out Pain of Homeland, a homage to immigrants' sacrifices. Overjoyed supporters danced as they waved banners and flags.

In contrast to the warm reception Saturday, local Ecuadorean voters overwhelmingly opposed Correa in the November election that brought him to power. His conservative opponent Alvaro Noboa received 63 percent of the vote in South Florida.

Many local Ecuadoreans opted not to attend the community event.

''The only reason he came is to campaign for his candidates,'' said Juan Jose Malo, president of the Miami Ecuadorean-American Chamber of Commerce. ``The way we feel, which is a feeling shared by most of the Ecuadoreans here, is that we don't want his 21st century socialism.''

1 comment:

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