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South America

el paro

ECUADOR | Sunday, 19 March 2006 | Views [774] | Comments [1]

This weekend I'm staying in Ibarra,  because the roads in most directions are blocked. The government is about to sign a free trade agreement with the US, and indigenous of the sierra have spend the past week sitting on the major roads in protest. They've blocked the Panamericana with burning tyres, piles of volcanic rock, logs and vehicles. Quito is normally two hours away, but now it is taking six hours via the back roads. Apparently there is no milk in the supermarket, and the UNCHR missions have been suspended because there is no petrol.

The most astonishing thing is how readily everyone accepts the strike (el paro).  Noone even seemed fussed until it had lasted five days. I was talking to one of the Colombian asylum seekers at work about free trade agreements, and told him that when Australia signed up a lot of people weren't happy, but didn't fight like they are here. He looked puzzled, and wanted to know "if the people weren't happy, why wouldn't they protest?"

There's an election coming up in October, and the government doesn't want to upset the considerable indigenous vote. In a country that's gone through seven presidents in the past 10 years*, it will be interesting to see what happens.

*thanks CIA factbook and Bradley!

Tags: On the Road



Hi Sarah! Sounds like you're having an interesting time over there, and I bet your Spanish is coming along nicely too. Keep up the great journals, your writing is lovely and the stories are fascinating! xx Jess

  Jess Mar 24, 2006 2:31 PM

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