Saturday, October 2, 2010

Reactions In Cuenca To Ecuador's Police Strike

This morning, I taught my regular Saturday morning class at the Abraham Lincoln school (quick recap - to be a professor, I have to also be a private school teacher. Follow that logic? Me neither. Welcome to Ecuador). I was looking forward to it today because it was a chance to do a good survey of local reactions to this week's police strike in Ecuador.

The teachers at the school are a mix of Cuenca locals and foreigners. My students come from middle and upper class families, and they're the equivalent of sophomores in high school. My class is all girls and very sweet. They can giggle in two languages.

Anyway, our lesson today was on gangsters and heroes (I just follow the book, people) and we had to make sentences expressing who is a hero and why. Soldiers are heroes, because they save Ecuador from the police. This earned a number of solemn nods from around the class. Soldiers are also cuter than the police, which earned laughs.

The girls then confessed to having spent the day of the police strike in Ecuador mostly glued to the television with their families. Those who have relatives in Quito or Guayaquil checked in throughout the day by email and cell phone to keep tabs on the public unrest in Ecuador. Many of my Cuencana students do have family on the coast, and so checking in - especially after the roads closed - was important. All the public schools in the country were closed Friday, which the students dismissed as "boring" since exams are coming up and they had to study anyway.

Among the local teachers in Cuenca, the mood was cautious relief. Several confessed to having been truly frightened. "I'm not easily scared," said one, "but that really shook me up." Correa, after all, is supposed to be different, and not susceptible to the coup d'etats that took out a number of his predecessors.

One of the long-time foreign teachers expressed ambivalence about the whole situation. "This is my fourth coup," he said, shrugging. I didn't ask if it was his fourth coup in Ecuador, but dang. Can you imagine?

In terms of the mood on the street, there are a number of stores that should be open that are still closed today (Saturday) but no real sense of emergency. People seem to be a little shaken that it happened, but mostly relieved that it's over. Speculation about the political outcomes is rampant among expats, but the locals just shrug and say, "Who knows what will happen?"

I'm with the locals. It's Ecuador. Who knows what will happen?

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