The following is an opinion piece by an Ecuadorian, Joseph SP, viewing the events in their country. It was originally published on Oct. 8th, 2019 on Indymedia Ecuador. What follows is our translation. Note, throughout the writer makes use of the gender neutral -x.
CW: mentions of homophobia & domestic violence.
I almost never post on social networks, but today I cannot stop thinking about the turbulent social conditions which we live in today in [Ecuador] and the way they affect my life. Some on social networks have made calls for PEACE and calm, clamoring because of the paralyzation brought by mobilizations of the most dispossessed sectors of society: the indigenous, the peasants, women and students. With hashtags like #EcuadorPaísDePaz [tr. Ecuador country of peace] we would be made to believe that PEACE is something that was always present and that “some” have come to break and vandalize it. Nonetheless, it’s impossible for me to imagine if I have every really known PEACE and if others in the same boat have known PEACE before all these protests. Do I really know PEACE? Who knows PEACE? What is PEACE really?
For many years now I have spent much time thinking with much sadness and dejection if I could ever reach my goals in life in a context where there are no life opportunities for young people and persons who dedicate themselves to social sciences. Everyday I wake up with anxiety and I reflect on the possibilities of developing my lived existence in a society traversed by inequality, discrimination, corruption and homophobia. Have I ever known PEACE? Three months ago, a friend who I miss dearly, decided to leave the country due to the terrible working conditions here in Ecuador and due to the recalcitrant homophobia of his family. He graduated from hospitality school and from then on (almost a year now) they have not been able to land a steady job, nor reconcile with his loved ones. Now he finds himself undocumented in the United States, trying to survive in a context where migrants and Latinxs are persecuted and treated like beasts of burden to be exploited and violated. When I talk with him we laugh and give each other encouragement, but we often wonder if will ever see each other again. Have we ever known PEACE?
Needless to say there are other bodies in which dispossession are expressed in basic conditions of need and where violence seems to be a daily act of everyday life. I think about, for example, in the thousands of cases of femicide where murderers are acquitted by the courts; in the huge number of people in public hospitals that will never be treated even in catastrophic conditions; in the thousands of children who work in the streets and squares of the city; in the thousands of urban unemployed people who desperately seek a form of survival for themselves and their families. Have they and their families ever known PEACE?
PEACE, my dear friends, has become a commodity which can only be accessed by way of a complex articulation of factors which include class, race and gender. PEACE, in our context as a (Latin American) country, is only obtained by those who have private security, a job, a home, a dignified wage, vacations, etc. How many people in this country have a dignified job? How many people are paid what they deserve? How many students have an assured future? How many young people will even be able to one day study? How many indigenous peoples & peasants have access to the most basic of services like water, health care, housing and all the rest? How many women and LGBTQI people have safe housing, without violence and discrimination? Nebot, Guillermo Lasso and the whole horde of shitty bankers and businessmen which support campaigns for “PEACE” in Ecuador can talk about it because their stinky existence is assured by the labor and dispossession of others. They speak of PEACE because they don’t know what it means to work and to still not have enough to feed oneself or one’s family. They speak of PEACE because they don’t know what it means to receive constant abuse from a partner and to be threatened with death everyday. The speak of PEACE but they don’t know what it means to go to a hospital and not have money to save your mother, your father, your grandfather, your friend…
So who speaks of PEACE?