Biography of Juan Carlos I de Borbón

 

juna-carlos-I

Juan Carlos I de Borbón

“They have just legalize myself!” joked the Spanish King 38 years ago when the Constitutional  Commission approved the article 2 of the new Spanish Constitution in 1978. In almost 40 years  as Head of the State, Juan Carlos I Borbón have demonstrated from the beginning to the  abdication, his stabilizing abilities in foreign and domestic issues.

Spanish history since 1975 is characterized by the democratic transition, the incorporation to  the European Union and the economic and social modernization of the country. From 1978, his democratic profile have been recognized national and  internationally with 30 Honoris Causa and many prestigious prizes: Carlomagno (1982), Simón  Bolívar (1983), Prize Peace Félix Houphouët-Boigny by UNESCO (1994)…

1.  Son of Prince Juan and designated successor by Franco

Juan Carlos Alfonso Víctor María de Borbón y Borbón-Dos Sicilias was born on January 5, 1938 in Rome, he was the second son of Juan de Borbón and Maria de las Mercedes de Borbón future counts of Barcelone.

The prince and future king grew up in the Italian capital, the place of exile of the royal family when they were forced to leave Spain because of the proclamation of the Second Republic in 1931.

The prince Juan wanted that his son to be educated in Spain, so he reached an agreement with the general Francisco Franco, in spite of the deep differences that they had.

Don Juan’s disaffected attitude auto discredited him as possible successor of Franco, who fixed his attention in Don Juan Carlos.

In 1948, he finished the baccalaureate in the Institute San Isidro, the most former educational center of the Spanish capital. He also took his military instruction in the Military Academy of Zaragoza, in the Marín’s Naval School and in the General Academy of Air of San Javier.

In 1961 he finished his studies of Constitutional and International Law, Economy and Public Estate in the “Universidad Complutense” of Madrid, he also finished his monographic courses in Toledo.

On May 14, 1962, he married the princess Sofía Oldenburg y Guelph, daughter of the kings Paul I and Federica of Greece and between 1963 and 1968 had three children: infant Elena and Cristina  and Felipe.

On July 22, 1969 don Juan Carlos was designated by the Spanish Parliament successor of Franco in the headquarters of the State as king and with the provisional title of  prince.

On June 15, 1971 he was designated by law to replace provisionally the chief of the State in case of absence or disability.

2. Monarch of the restoration of democracy in Spain.

Being sick Francisco Franco, Juan Carlos succeeded him as head of state between July 19 and September 2, 1974, and again from 30 October 1975. On November 20 the dictator died and day 22, the prince was proclaimed King of Spain by the legislature, which was the replacement of the Bourbon monarchy.

The Constitution of 1978 defined the political, representative and ceremonial functions of the king, who missed the entire executive branch of the Franco legacy system and became a parliamentary and democratic monarch, as the ones of the Weastern Europe.

One of his most significant decisions was to appoint, Adolfo Suárez González, the president of the government in July 1976, until then Minister Secretary General of the Movement. Suárez’s government launched the Political Reform Act, left parties were again legal and the first democratic elections were celebrated.

Between 1977 and 1982 Juan Carlos exercised his reign over two terms, the first constituent. The king returned to excel with the attempted military coup of 23 February 1981. The failure of the F-23 was a turning point that finally consolidated the Spanish democracy and the image of the monarch within and outside the country.

Juan Carlos served as a true ambassador of the Spanish policy, with a great recovery aid or strengthening relations with Latin America, the Middle East, the European Economic Community and the United States, geographic areas of great importance to Spain’s foreign policy.

3. Some Controversies (2007-2012)

The King of Spain has had different controversies along these few years.

In fact in 2007 during the “XVII Iberoamerican Summit” (Cumbre Iberoamericana) in Chile, his royal majesty starred two different acts, which fill immediately the news worldwide. The first one was his spontaneous response to the president of Venezuela Mr. Hugo Cháves, spontaneous answer “¿Por qué no te callas?” (“Why don´t you shut up?”).

The second one was a meditated act where the King, Zapatero and Foreign Minister exit the speech of the Nicaraguan president, as a symbol of protest of his previous words.

Both acts were an answer of what authorized personnel of the royal house had stated as “He answer because he felt Spain and its representatives were been attacked”, and declared that he did what he thought needed to be done.

As a consequences, these acts affected negatively bilateral relation between Spain and Venezuela.

The official visit that the kings of Spain realize November 5th and 6th of 2007 to Ceuta y Melilla, Spanish cities located in Africa and reclaimed by the Morocco, affected the foreign policy; altering for a brief period of time the internationals relations between Spain and Morocco.

This succession of news about King Juan Carlos I in the year of 2007, have made that the King himself, in some official events took to remainder that parliamentary monarchy is the livelihood of Constitution and it determines:  the longest stability and prosperity period in democracy lived by Spain.

4. Abdication

With a delay of half-an-hour, King Juan Carlos appeared on Spanish television at 1pm on Monday, just hours after Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy announced that the monarch was to abdicate.

Some of the declarations that we would like to highlight:

“When I was proclaimed king, nearly four decades ago, I took on a firm commitment to serve Spain’s general interest, moved by the desire to make citizens the agents of their own destinies and for our nation to become a modern democracy, one that was fully integrated into Europe.”

“Today, when I look back, I cannot help feeling proud and grateful to you.”

“Proud because of the many good things we have achieved together throughout the years.”

“And grateful for your support, which has made my reign – which I began as a young man at a time of great uncertainty and difficulty – a long period of peace, freedom, stability and progress.”

“A new generation is legitimately demanding a central role in the forging of this future. A younger generation with new energy has the determination to undertake the transformation and reforms demanded by the current situation.”

“The Prince of Asturias has the maturity, training and sense of responsibility that are necessary to fully guarantee his position as head of state and begin a new period of hope that combines acquired experience with the thrust of a new generation.”

“Spain will always be in my heart.”

abdica

The King’s speech after proclaiming his abdication

 

Sara Iturbe, Tatiana Lozano, Anne Loran, Arantxa Gutiérrez

 

COLOMBIA IN THE PRESENT

In order to make this interview I interviewed Jorge Andres Pereira, he just finished his degree in Foreign Business in the Universidad Piloto de Bogotá. He is 21 years old and he has lived all his life in Colombia. I chose to interview him due to his career which ensures us that he is currently involved and informed about the issues which I wanted to know about for my article. And besides that he has always lived in Colombia, and that is also a guarantee that he has seen the recent evolution through which our country has gone.

The first point we focused on was on the Peace Treaty between the Colombian government and the FARC (revolutionary armed forces of Colombia), a guerrilla group with Marxist ideology which funds itself the money gained from drug trafficking, mostly Cocaine. He, as many other Colombians think that peace is possible, but in the short term. He says- “if there is peace, it will be for a short period of time as many people from the war, so it will come back again at some point, it is sad but true.”

With the current presidential elections going for second round it has been said in Colombia that it is either Peace or war depending on the results. The two main candidates are Juan Manuel Santos who is going for his second charge and Oscar Ivan Zuluaga who follow former president Alvaro Uribe Velez. The thing is that it seems that rather being Santos vs. Zuluaga it is Peace vs. War.

The third aspect we focused on was the fact of inequality related to corruption and the fact of being a rich country. Colombia is the country with more emeralds in the world, the third with coffee, second with flowers. Besides that it has enough resources to maintain itself with no need of imports. Yet, despite to all this richness, Colombia is one of the most unequal countries in the world.  He responds to this by saying “ it is because the money is not evenly distributed, it is all due to what we call rich thieves. It’s the politicians and people with important charges who get most of all this money”.

As for the resources he said that the problem is that Colombia does not have the appropriate means to extract, process and finally use these resources. At the end it is a matter of being developed enough to be able to take profit from these advantages the country has. And that is the point when we get to the next point of the interview, which is the foreign influence in Colombia. In this case the United States of America.

Since the independence of Colombia the US has always been there to help in exchange for loyalty of the country, and of course to gain an ally in the area. This interest in Colombia grew during the 50`s and 60´s when the US viewed Colombia as a country to stop Communism. Nowadays its has evolved even more when Colombia is the only “puppet” of the US in South America, as former Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez said. Jorge Andres said “ we Colombians don’t consider ourselves as “puppets”, we consider we are good friends with the Americans, they have helped us evolve and we have helped them by showing our loyalty in Korea for instance. But it would be better to be less dependent on other countries”.

Image

That was the interview, for me it was a great experience. I got to know more about my country from the words of a person around my same age who shares the same interests as me. The only problem with the interview was arranging the time and date due to his time and vice versa, with out taking into account the time difference. But in general I am very happy from the result of the interview, it is a very “beautiful” way of seeing another point of view of something different from the one of the media.

 

 

 

Written by Juan David Suarez Bolivar

 

 

The biggest problem: CORRUPTION

The largest remaining natural resource is the Amazon forest, and the largest salt lake in the world is located in Bolivia. Argentina’s Patagonia has one of the highest wind energy potential on earth. The first drug that was used to prevent and treat malaria, the quinine, is obtained from the bark of a tree that grows in Ecuador, and the 20% of plants that have anti-cancer properties are found only in the great rainforest of this region. As you probably know, I am talking about South America, that area which has nearly 26% of the world’s renewable sources of freshwater and major resources as gold, silver, tin and petroleum.

Despite these impressive facts, it has one of the highest percentages of poverty compared with the rest of the continents. How can be possible that this paradise of natural resources is actually one of the poorest regions of the world?

First of all, it is necessary to understand that South America’s economy is centered on the export of natural resources, not on its exploitation.

We absolutely believe that the main factor of poverty in South America is corruption: a study demonstrated that corruption tends to be higher in countries at lower levels of economic and human development, with lower levels of education, limited political rights, weak or non-existent. Why is corruption the one to blame? Easy. Corruption lowers the rate of economic growth and investment, distorts public spending by diverting funds to sectors where the collection of bribes is easier such as physical public investments and military spending, weakens programs designed to help the poor and reduce inequality apart from the government revenue through tax evasion and improper tax exceptions, lowers foreign aid and influences the structure of trading partners. Politically, corruption reduces the public’s trust in politicians and civil servants, their faith in public institutions, evaluations of government performance and regime legitimacy.

A daily and terrible example is what happened in Bogota where the government, with an enormous quantity of subsidies started to distribute to the proletarian families Cocinol, which is a gasoline product, it was reduced so those families could cook with it. 300.000 families have to live with this kind of miserable life conditions. But these corrupt practices in which not only the politicians make themselves richer but also to private businessman, this is a dramatic punishment for the lower classes that are disadvantage: kids from the proletarian sector are the principal victims of this hateful corruption which is subsidized by their own government.

There are presidents as Alan Garcia,  Jaime Paz, Carlos A. Perez, Salinas de Gortari and the Mexican PRI, the best world example of the “perfect dictatorship”(Vargas Llosa) blamed for Colosio’s and Ruiz Massieu’s murder, also linked with barracks Golf mafia and for the just Chiapa’s Indian uprising.

So after analyzing this I correct myself. How could I say that is not only corruption’s fault? It is also the problem of how democracy is perceived in South America, where most of the power is in the government. Politicians get to presidential office with the idea of making a change for the people. However, while they are gaining power they start to forget about population demands, just thinking on their benefits.

Democracy is defined as “a system of government by the whole population or all the eligible members of a state, typically through elected representatives”

This is the best recipe for achieving consolidation and sustained regional development, which is extremely necessary in the region.

images.jpg trabajo

anti-corruption protest 2013

“Corruption is the big weakness of Latin America”

“Corruption is the big weakness of Latin America”

 Maria Eugenia Aspiazu Nebel was born in Caracas on April 23rd of 1965; she lived in Venezuela until April 1974 and in Ecuador until 2003.She use to write a column in “El Telégrafo” a newspaper from Ecuador. She has been living in Spain since 2003.

The perception of how rich or how poor people are is relative. Many people wrongly think that there is no middle class in South America, that is not so. The difference is that without a strong free health care program and quality free education, the quality of life of the middle class is not comparable to that of the first world. Prizes are lower, so are taxes. For instance, in Ecuador a gallon of gas (4 liters) costs 0, 25 cts of a dollar, so a basic expense like filling your tank of gas is lower that what it would be in Europe.  On the other hand, indigenous population refuses to integrate, much like the gypsies in Spain, and that condemns them to poverty and exclusion. Still the truth is that South America is incredible rich in every possible natural resource but somehow this richness doesn’t translate to the lives of their people.  The reason for that is corruption.

Corruption is the big weakness of Latin America. For some sad unknown reason these countries had never been able to move past the picaresque culture of the 16th century. Rich as they are that richness ends up in politician pockets and it’s not invested in the country. Also, the bureaucracy has no understanding of production. Without clear rules and legal protection, no industry or business can survive for long. The moment someone is successful, they will attract the greed and envy of local authorities who will manage to appropriate their businesses, take them apart and make a quick profit, destroying thousands of jobs in the process and blocking any possibility of progress.

A very good example is what happened in Argentina during Peron’s presidency. When Peron arrived into power, Argentina was one of the richest countries in the world; it had the fourth largest gold reserve in the world. Evita’s populist gestures, expropriating industries and businesses from those who opposed their regime, often to give it to one of their supporters, and giving away checks in moving, public, well advertised ceremonies, destroyed the country’s economy and left it in ruins. Her legend, though, remains.
This happens in a lesser scale in every country, now and then.

Another example is what is happening in Venezuela, both in Chavez and in Maduro’s eras. A very good example is what happened in Argentina during Peron’s presidency. When Peron arrived into power, Argentina was one of the richest countries in the world; it had the fourth largest gold reserve in the world. Evita’s populist’s gestures, expropriating industries and businesses from those who opposed their regime, often to give it to one of their supporters, and giving away checks in moving, public, well advertised ceremonies, destroyed the country’s economy and left it in ruins. Her legend, though, remains.
This happens in a lesser scale in every country, now and then.

Chavez was a very smart man who was a PR prodigy. It is not easy for a Latin American president to be known outside their countries, let alone to become a major player in the world’s political stage. He built a devote following when he exchanged oil for teachers and doctors with Cuba, send the underemployed military to build highways and created good access road to the misery belt that surrounds Caracas. Many Venezuelan, especially those living in remote parts of the country, went from living the Middle Ages to the 20th century in five years; people who have been neglected for years while corruption made the huge revenues disappear into mansions, yachts, and all sort of gaudy luxury for the new rich crazed bureaucracy.  He was also witty and funny, his histrionics at the UNO (“It smells like sulphur” etc) still bring smiles to people’s faces.
That said, he also did what every populist does best: subsidize utilities (water is more expensive than gasoline in Venezuela), set politic prices to basic products, making production unviable, and make big made up scandals targeting well know financial or industrial figures that allowed him to strip them of their hard built businesses “in favor of the revolution”.

Maduro is not Chavez. He is a former leader from the bus driver union, whose principal claim to fame was not being smart enough to threatened Chavez leadership, which left it as the last man standing after other more intelligent but far less docile “compañeros” were brushed aside. That’s how he came to power. He is now trying to hold together a country that imports everything except oil, an economy in shambles, and a society in the brink of civil war, torn between Chavez nostalgic and people who have had it with abuse of power, violence, the highest criminality rate in South America, rampant corruption, shortage of almost about everything, etc.
He has neither the political savvy, nor the brains, nor the local support, nor the international allies to steer the country to safe port.

 

Muriel Balda Aspiazu

Latin America, an uncertain chance of growing

My interview is to Jorge Heras a person which I think can give us a good view of the actual Latin America and the changes of through the years he has been living there, he has been living in Latin America for fifteen years, based on Buenos Aires, Argentine, but traveling during those years all over Latin America. He was hired in Spain to establish a British company in Latin America to launch a project in the technology area from a British firm, Achilles, this firm had been expanded through Europe in Spain, Portugal, Norway, France and Germany and they were looking for a person to establish the business in Latin America so he was the first employ from Latin America and the person in charge. Nowadays he is in charge of Latin America and Southern Europe.

After this I asked him about the way of living, the differences that he has mostly notice from living in a western country as Spain to a Latin American country as Argentine, to this he answer me that:

The differences of the income pyramid, if you are so lucky to be in the top of the pyramid your standard of living is much better than in Europe and that if you don’t have that professional position which is allowing you to live in the top when you are in the middle income level the conditions of living and the way of living is much more positive in Europe than in Latin America. This is to say that the public-social services (as the public hospitals, unemployment salaries, etc…) is much worst in Latina America than in a country as Spain, but if you can pay private insurances, in Argentine the private insurances are as good as in Western countries.

I asked him to give me the difference between a Latin America and a Western country after this he told me that in Europe we tend to believe that the efficiency of workers in Latin America is much lower or are less productive than European citizens, he said that, that wasn’t his perception even if it is a general believe he affirms is completely fake, that it depends on the people that you are talking about and also it depends in the country. He showed me how it is way different, the way the continents are organized, in Europe we all are under one currency and we have shorts distance between countries, in Latin America the distance are as big as going from Europe to Latin America and they are under different currencies and each country has different ways of behaving, there is a huge diversity, his understanding is always the people not the country but of course the country intervenes.

 

After this I asked him to give advantages in Latin America and as he said due to the nature of those countries there is a lot to do, for companies growing, you have much more opportunities to grow in Latin America than in a well-developed economy like in Europe in which we are almost flat in growth rates or even decreasing, in Latin America the growth is much more aggressive and the possibility to expand your business he believe is higher because he has go through that. He also gave me some disadvantages as that in Latin America there are several countries with different legislations, even they do have some kind of trade agreements the application of those trade agreements is very complex, so is complex for us Europeans that have one legislation that can be applied to any country in Europe moving to that environment where you have several different legislations  and currencies, also the culture is extremely important for to remember that we are not better than Latin Americans for been Europeans we are only different, if we go there with the European mentality you will have for sure a big probability of having problems and not been successful.

After this we spoke about the economic crisis that hit Europe so hard, that not much people know that this crisis didn’t reached Latin America until 2010-2011 (three years later than in Europe) and that the deepness or the gravity of the crisis it was not even similar to the one in Europe, never the less he would say even the impact of the economic crisis has been slightly inferior in Latin America, there are several countries that are hit very hard by the economic crisis not because internal problems but because of the connections to the world, for example in Chile, this country produces copper that is bought by china but if china doesn’t need to produce because Europe doesn’t consume the copper price gets low and Chile gets in crisis the mining industry and specifically the copper price.

As the last question I asked him if there is any Latin American country that can be between the first big powers, to this he told that twenty five years ago Mexico and Brazil were going to be first big powers and they didn’t make it, and they went through 25 years and they still are very big promises but they are still not able to achieve an economic situation that makes them be between the first big powers. He answered me that the problem is that they don’t have a very solid middle class, which is one of the main characteristics of the first big powers. But he would love to see them between the first power economies but he is afraid this is going to be the never ending promise.

As conclusion Latin America has too much differences from Europe in Many topics it has to solve as the unsolid middle class and that they are not as united as in Europe. We the European citizens need to know that Latin America offers an extremely good place for companies growing and that it is a completely different way of doing business.

the inteview was really usefull for me to understand the topic I was really thankful for the interview.

jorge

Jorge Heras in the right and his partners( 2014)

By: Alberto Calomarde

4/06/2014

 

 

Brazil – A country divided by the World Cup.

Brazil is nowadays the centre of the world; the South American country, which is the biggest and both most populated and important of the area, hosts the FIFA 2014 World Cup for the second time in its history after organizing the 1950 tournament. It is also the first time in the area since 1978, when it took place in the neighbouring country of Argentina. The World Cup is the most important football competition in the world and will face 32 national teams from 5 different continents, which will fight to get to the final at Rio de Janeiro.

The reality is that Brazil does not appear on worldwide news because of a brilliant organization or because of the enthusiasm and acceptance of Brazilians, despite the country is worldwide known as “the land of football”. It is on the news mostly because of the opposite: there are numerous antigovernment protests and strikes almost every day in all the largest cities of the country, mainly in Rio and Sao Paulo, demanding so many different things.

Because of this worldwide attention that both the event and the hosting country are receiving, I decided to focus on its society and the division of opinions regarding the World Cup for this interview, so someone better than a Brazilian who has experienced the protests on his own city? The person in question was Thiago Lopes, a 22 years old student of International Relations, as me, at the Brazilian north-eastern city of Natal, which is one of the twelve hosting cities of the tournament.

Thiago

Thiago at the “Christ the Redeemer”, which has become an icon of Brazil.

I started asking him about the opinion of the society regarding the World Cup. He told me that at the beginning, when Brazil was elected to host the event in 2007 everyone was extremely happy about it, but of course things have changed; “All my friends are now against it. I honestly think there are more people hating it than liking it but after the World Cup really starts, people will be happier and will accept it because of our passion for football.”

But the truth is that the World Cup has started and there are still lots of people on the streets. That was our next step on the interview; the protests. “In 2013, with the Confederations Cup, we had the biggest protests in Brazil. In my city, Natal, people took control of various kilometres of streets until the end of the day – literally the whole city was there, screaming and complaining about several things at once: the World Cup, the politicians, the hospitals, the education… But after that, the protests decreased day by day because it began to be just a mess.” And that’s the truth, it became a completely mess because of the huge amount of things people started to complain about, as Thiago told me later: “Everybody protest together: I’m protesting against the World Cup, the person next to me is protesting for a better minimum salary, another one against politicians or improvements in hospitals and schools…That’s why it doesn’t work, they don’t focus on one aspect.”

Then we moved to the organization of the World Cup and the role played by both the FIFA (International Federation of Association Football in English) and the Government leaded by Dilma Rousseff. “Who does the World Cup benefit?” That’s the question many Brazilians ask themselves, so I did it to Thiago and he told me that three were the most favoured by the event: “it benefits politicians, FIFA and the tourism sector. The first one stole a lot of money during those days as it is a very corrupted state. FIFA is taking the control of the country without paying anything because we the Brazilians put the money. At the same time they are constantly making requirements that the country has to follow or they will cancel the whole thing, they are even closing some streets and of course they are the ones taking most of the money from tickets and merchandising. The last one, the tourism sector is taking advantage of it by disproportionately rising prices during the World Cup.”

So, those three were the ones pointed out by protesters, but mainly the Government of the country, that made lots of promises to Brazilians which most of them haven’t turned into reality, because as Thiago pointed out, they are still building many of the infrastructures, even the inaugural stadium at Sao Paulo; “they have built giant stadiums and airports, but honestly after the World Cup we won’t have a reason to use them. In my city, Natal, we used to have an airport just 15 minutes by driving and the new one is one hour away and located in an unsafe place. They even promised metros in every capital hosting the event but of course, that never happened.”

I wanted to finish the interview by asking about the repercussion of protests surrounding the World Cup on the image of Brazil, because at least before matches started it didn’t seem to lead to a positive one. Thiago consulted one of his economy teachers and they both thought that “Brazil is probably going to break this year because of the World Cup, we spent a lot of money and now everything is more expensive in comparison to last year: food, gas, public transport… Even my rent has increased and when I asked why so, the answer I got was – it is because of the World Cup.

The interview made me better realize how difficult is to organize a huge event like this one in a divided country as Brazil; but will the passion of Brazilians for football, almost considered a religion, make the World Cup a success for the country? To the contrary, will the huge protests of last year be repeated in an even bigger dimension? Just time will tell, but for sure, the whole world will centre its attention on one place, and that place is Brazil.

-Of course, I thank Thiago again for the interview–

Gonzalo Miró Martín

When the issue is not only compliance – The reality of human rights in Ecuador

As Europeans, we tend to undermine the issues of developing countries and their difficulties with social and political obstacles they have to deal with every day. South America and especially small countries such as Ecuador seem to be stuck in transitional periods for almost over fifty years. In order to find out more about human rights in this country, I had the great opportunity to interview Andrea Balda Aspiazu.

She has been studying in the US and working when she was there in the Academy on Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, researching about the development of human rights education in Nicaragua, Mexico and Brazil. Then she came back to Ecuador to work at the School of Administration and Political Science of the Universidad de Casa Grande, but she used to work at JUCONI too, a foundation that develops, implements and shares effective solutions for socially excluded children, young people and families affected by violence that has improved the quality of the services of thousands of children in South America and South Africa.

As I had read in the official website, this NGO has been internationally recognized by UNESCO for its innovative approach and more recently by UNICEF, for offering Mexico’s “Best Practice” for its family work and strong commitment to child rights, so I asked her what she thinks that makes this NGO different from the others and its main purposes. As she has explained to me, what makes Juconi different from all the other organizations is its methodology. It seeks to improve family relations basing the work it does with the family as a unit on attachment parenting techniques. The program has a four step system, recruiting the families by first recruiting the children in the streets of Guayaquil (in the case of Ecuador) Child psychologists visit the children at their usual street corners for around two months; once trust has been gained it is the children who give us access to their real identities and families. Once this is achieved, the organization has to gain the parents’ trust, visits are paid at each home and the relationship between the psychologist and the family starts.

I told her that I would like to know how the situation of children in Ecuador is, and if she thinks that the system provides them a good education and respects their rights. She said that it is slowly improving, “the goal is to have universal national education, and however, the quality of that education is also important. In the rush to achieve this goal, the government may be ignoring the most important aspect of education. The system tries, that cannot be denied, and this government has invested more in education than any other government the past 50 years, maybe more… but what does that matter if the quality of the education is not up to the task? What does it matter if education is supposed to be free is in practice there is no effective supervision over the administration of schools in the marginal sectors of the city and corruption runs rampant? There is still a lot of work to do…”

To continue talking about Human Right issues in Ecuador we commented that, according to Human Rights Watch  “After being re-elected to a third term in February 2013, President Rafael Correa promulgated a sweeping new Communications Law in June regulating broadcast and print media, which undercuts press freedom.” I asked her about the population reaction regarding this law, and if she would say that there is a real freedom of expression in Ecuador. Her answer was really interesting, she began saying the quality of local media and press is VERY BAD. Andrea gave me some ridiculous examples such as critics that were denounced and publicly humiliated in the President’s famous “sabatinas”, his own TV show.

She explained that you cannot defend yourself against that “media machine” which is constantly imposed on you. The government owns TV channels and newspapers so the actual quality of journalism since the Communications Law has really declined.

On a question does she really believes that the free media in Ecuador exists, she noted that media is strictly related to commercial obligations, and that they are seemingly to be the only resource of funds and incomes.

We also talked about the Annual Report: Ecuador 2013 made by Amnesty International, which denounces the fact that indigenous and community leaders faced spurious criminal charges aimed at restricting their freedom of assembly. She told me that the freedom of association is being respected there, but this is related to many things, indigenous communities oppose the laws trying to regulate water and the exploitation of the Yasuni National Reserve so they have become a political target, but since they control a big political sector, the government can’t really part ways with these communities.

To conclude, I asked her if she would say that Human Rights are being duly respected in her country and what she thinks the government should improve. She answered me that this was a very hard question, “at first glance, you might say yes… rights are being respected, they literally are being complied with… but the issue is not only compliance… there is a lot more to be achieved and political polarization and omnipotence is not really the way to do it. We are talking about a country that needs to get used to democracy and it doesn’t know how so whatever stability it enjoys it will take, no matter the price. Thing is though… the price in the end might be too steep. Correa and his government have many achievements that need to be recognized and applauded but you can’t use achievements to excuse other violations. The ideas are all good, putting these in practice is where it falls short…”

Belén González-Puelles Laso