June 11, 2014
Yesterday, Kalina and I went running through the rural outskirts of Ibarra, past beautifully harvested fields that stretched out into the distant mountains. We came across an elderly man and woman sitting by the dirt path with their puppies. Of course, we had to stop and pet them. Claran Angelita, (60s), and her neighbor were campesinos, people who live from land passed down through multiple generations. In Ecuador, along with many other developing Latin American countries, campesinos tend to have limited monetary resources available to them. As we told the pair about our project on education, Claran graciously invited us to visit her the following day.
Today, as we walked down a dirt path to Claran’s pink, concrete house, we were immediately greeted by a chorus of lively dogs, cats and guinea pigs; residents of her quaint farm. We found Claran working on her well-groomed field, where she happily paused her work to tell us more about the transformations she has seen. Claran spoke fondly of the current president, who has been known to care about the elderly more than any previous president, as though he was a neighbor who came back to regularly check on her well being.
As someone with few economic resources, Claran noted she had no issues paying taxes. In fact, she and others like her would always pay, punctually and without a problem, whereas the rich with more land land would not find the process so convenient. Before the current tax system was established five years ago, the rich could get away without respecting the law. Comparatively, Claran had ended up paying even more taxes. Today, she is satisfied: Everyone pays their dues, and she is happy to see a rise in newly paved roads.
I listened to Claran describe a system from years ago that involved fake universities, bribed degrees, and a fraudulent tax system. Claran remembered a time where it was tolerable for students to simply sit at their desks with their uniforms on, without learning anything at all. I can only imagine the number of people who left high school or middle school without the appropriate tools and skills needed to have a well-paying job.