Ecuador: A Key in the Struggle for Latin American Unity
Clifton Ross writes in Axis of Logic:
Back in 1989 or 1990, as I watched, along with the rest of the world, the collapse of the “Evil Empire,” I remember thinking to myself, “one down, one to go.” I knew, and all the imperial hubris of Fukyama’s “end of history” just made me that much more certain, that the time would soon come for Evil Empire II. “Soon” is a relative term. Here we are, a mere seventeen or eighteen years later and Evil Empire II is on its way down, as historical events go, at hyper-speed.
What I didn’t expect was that new empires might emerge, or attempt to do so, in the wake of the collapse of the two empires that jostled for position throughout the Cold War years. But if empire is Brazilian revolutionary theorist Ruy Mauro Marini would dub these rising empires, “sub-empires,” and he claimed that the seeds of sub-empires are already visible in Latin America. Of course that’s what we USAmericans were back in the early 19th century, an ex-colony aspiring to sub-imperial status, mingling with the full-fledged, grown up empires of Britain, France and Spain and hoping one day to play in the Major League ourselves.
I muse on all of this as I wait in my hotel room in Quito, Ecuador, for Napoleon Saltos Galazara to arrive. I had just finished reading his article, “UNASUR: la coordenada bolivariana” published in the extraordinary Ecuadoran review, “La Tendencia,” in which he considers sub-empires, dying empires and what he calls “the Bolivarian Coordinate” (1) with the skill of a scientist. He is, after all, a scientist, among many other things.
Dr. Napoleon Saltos and I have in common our passage through Liberation Theology into socialism, although I’m not familiar with his mentor, the widely admired Ecuadoran Liberation theologian, Fr. Leonidas Proaño. But Napoleon, rather than following in his mentor’s footsteps, seems to have flown over them. In addition to his work as professor and former director of the School of Sociology at the Central University of Ecuador, Dr. Saltos was founder of Pachakutik, the indigenous organization which, along with CONAIE (Confederation of Indigenous Nations of Ecuador) led the spectacular rebellions in Ecuador throughout the ’90s. He then served in Parliament as a member of that party but left when it allied itself with the traitorous President Lucio Gutierrez, who rode the social and indigenous movements to power and then turned on them within days of becoming president. Saltos went on to work within the social movements and held the post of “Coodinator of Social Movements.” He also writes and publishes what has become a yearly handbook on Ecuadoran reality entitled “Ecuador: su realidad” (Ecuador: Its Reality), a hefty tome full of current statistics on employment, imports and exports, data from census and an all around round-up of everything you ever wanted to know about Ecuador but were too ignorant to even know how to ask. Let me put that in the first person. This is, after all, my first visit to the country and I have very little prior knowledge of “its reality.” But I’m confident, weighing his yearbook of information in my hands, that Napoleon is the man to ask.