The following was published in 2008 by Linda McFarlin at: http://www.pro-ecuador.com/living-in-ecuador-morales.html
The story is in three parts. Here we meet Cesar Alvear Morales and then part one and two deals directly with the notion of ‘participatory democracy’ that is taking place in Cotacachi, Ecuador. Not only is another world possible, another world is already being developed all over the world.
You can see more on YouTube regarding participatory democracy in Cotacachi at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gc6K51sqNW0&feature=related
Here the mayor of the town explains the concept to ex-patriots now living in the city.
Living in Ecuador: Cesar Alvear Morales’ Story
|By Linda McFarlin
A woman living in Ecuador is not often deferred to in public. For instance, unless she is very old, pregnant or carrying a young child men rarely give up their seats to women on buses.Lugging 3 bags of groceries and a new clock for the kitchen onto a bus from Ibarra to Cotacachi, I was pleasantly surprised when a young man helped me juggle my way into a seat next to him. Then he returned to the book he was reading. Even without knowing much Spanish, I figured out that he was reading John Gray’s, “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus.”
We talked all the way to Cotacachi. I invited him to come to our apartment to meet Gary (and to help me carry my packages up our four flights of stairs!) He shared with us how Gray’s book had altered his views about women and the ways men perceive them.
As you will see when you read his story, Cesar has a passion for Ecuador. That passion sparkles in his eyes as he talks. Like so many young people we have met in Ecuador, Cesar has a special quality. One cannot help but be inspired by his enthusiasm and unique insight as he speaks of Ecuador culture, politics and changes he would like to see. The passion of the young is one of the exciting things about living in Ecuador.
Living in Ecuador: Cesar’s Story—Part I
People Can Do Great Things
Right now I teach high school math and am also finishing my last semester in college in business administration. My goal used to be strictly business and making money. But I have learned about much more-economics, psychology, Ecuador politics, organizations and finance.
All of this has helped me to see that people can do great things. What is now much more interesting to me is helping my community, much more important than making money.
I Fell in Love with Human Beings
Ecuador is a third-world country. The rest of the world calls us poor. Many of us have very little money, but we are very rich in other ways. Because the people here are now seeing how really rich they are, seeing their own true value, I am able to see many opportunities for the people, for my country. Living in Ecuador is a good thing.
For example: the indigenous don’t really need much money. They have their land and the food they grow on the land. When they need something extra, they can sell some of their crops or sell a cow. They are happy living in Ecuador like this.
|Getting Things is Not the Center of the Universe
The West tries to get us to buy more things—more expensive things, better things, bigger things. I thought about that and I don’t agree. Getting things isn’t the center of life. To be the best person you can be is much better than being the richest you can be. We get information at college but not a real education. Ecuadorians become workers or live life in a selfish way. They don’t learn about the important things. My father is amazing. He taught me so much. He does things for people only to see them have a better life.
|The Best Reward
The best reward is not money. It’s to help people be better than they were before you met them.My father does that. He wants to do that through the Assemblea. First he had to learn how Ecuador politics works and now as the president of the Assemblea Cantonal, to do good things for the people. He teaches the participatory democracy action groups how to create what they want. When they started, they didn’t know how. With my father’s help, they have learned how to be effective.
Cesar’s Views about Women
This new insight has helped me with my brothers. This is a very machisimo society. Men here have some wrong ideas about women. This is sad. They judge a situation only as a man and don’t see it from a woman’s perspective.
I tell my male students, “Shut up, don’t talk to her like that!” when they say inappropriate things to females. “Let her be a woman and let her like what she likes. While you are in my class, you will respect the differences between you and women.”
We can’t punish women for being different. They like sweet things, pretty things.
The power is with the men right now. If they don’t change, nothing will change. Living in Ecuador will be better for all of us if we respect each other’s differences.
Here is part one of an interview Linda did with Leonardo Alvear on the Ecuadoran notion of Participatory Democracy (http://www.pro-ecuador.com/participatory-democracy.html) and you can read it below.
Interview with Leonardo Alvear:
Participatory Democracy Part I
Cotacachi’s Participatory Democracy Revitalizes