My neighbors like to listen to their radio very loudly. Usually they listen to their favorite Christian channel, blasting sermons of angry reverends into the Ecuadorian jungle. I sometimes wonder if they have problems hearing or if they hope to save a soul or two without having to go marching from door to door. Every now and then however, they blast a different preacherman’s wisdom into the air, which is Rafael Correa. Latin American politicians sure do love their lecterns… It always reminds me of what my dad (another guy that loves to talk) used to tell me when I was nervous about school-presentations: “First you tell ’em what you’re gonna tell ’em. Then you tell ’em. Then you tell ’em what you told them. Then you tell them again.”
I never really got over my fear of public speaking and have absolute respect for people that do have these skills. Rafael Correa is definitely gifted in this division and as my time in Ecuador progresses my understanding of his politics slowly grow as well. He is known to be left-wing but is definitely not as extreme as Chavez was or would have liked him to be. Even so, both Correa and his Venezuelan counterpart (Maduro, in this case) recently spoke about the need to “revolutionize the revolution”.
On his personal blog, called Economía en Bicicleta, or Economy on a bicycle, he elaborates on how he envisions this. He of course does not fail to mention how much the country has progressed, following his lead so far. There is no denying that he has brought stability to the country and that his approval ratings remain high, which is, as BBC News puts it: no mean feat in a country that went through seven presidents in the 10 years before Mr Correa was elected.
Browsing through his blog, I can see that he is an economist (a field that I actually don’t always completely understand myself, to be honest), and a scholar and that he likes to cycle. The fact that he has a blog in the first place, to go along with his weekly radio show and his frequent TV appearances, also shows us that he likes to hear himself talk. Even more so, he dislikes other people to do that for him or worse: about him. In order to get his message across to his people, and to be able to confront his critics directly, he passed a law that requires all media to broadcast the government’s messages. You can read more about this on the website of Reporters without Borders.
It is a pity that politicians and the media have such a strained relationship and that so many Latin American heads of state have taken measures to limit press freedom in order to be able to control the message that is being brought to their people. I understand that the status quo may be unhappy with the redistribution of (their) wealth and that they will broadcast whatever filth they can find or make up to avoid loosing their position in society. A pain in the ass as this might be for a government trying to accomplish something, I am not sure this justifies taking over newspapers and managing their content, however. Then again, he did offer Julian Assange assylum…
Despite of his narcissistic tendencies and his tense relation with the press, I kind of like the guy and it seems to me that he has done a lot of good for Ecuador so far. He is somewhere between Hugo Chavez of Venezuela and Lula da Silva of Brazil on the scale of leftiness and has made some drastic changes to the structure of his country, that really seem to be helping his country forward. Of course, one can always debate about what development and progress really are and what this means for amazonian tribes choosing a life of isolation in the rainforest, especially now that their homes seem to be sitting on large oil reserves that light up the dollar signs in the eyes of the economist in chief.
Correa’s quote on which I based the title of this blog, was actually this:
“Tenemos que ser los más duros críticos de nosotros y cada día revolucionar nuestra revolución”
Translated, it says: “We must be our own hardest critics and every day revolutionize our revolution”. Even though I focussed on the last three words, the first part of the quote is at least as interesting, taking the threat to the livelihoods of the amazonian people into consideration… but I think I’ll have to save that one for another time…
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