It was one of the most moving things I’ve seen in awhile. So long I can’t even remember when I felt this way. The road filled end-to-end with indigenous people making the trek from deep within the mountains all the way to Quito to protest the recent increase in fuel prices.
And when I say trek.
I mean trek.
With bags of provisions to last them the long journey slung over their backs, hoards of people braved the walk to the capital. A trip that might take them more than a week to make on foot due to the transportation strike.
Tough as nails, I’ve always had mad respect for these cultures that have sustained throughout the ages. Living off the land. Adhering to a lifestyle that preserves their unique traditions and values. Wanting only to be allowed to continue to exist in peace. Dressed in beautiful skirts and puffy embroidered blouses all the while. A smart looking fedora perched atop raven locks tied in a braid.
And even without knowing the full story of how their rights have been encroached upon over the years. I am with them. Because to see an exodus of such size and scale. A united front estimated to be up to 20,000 people from every village braving some seriously brutal conditions to have their voice heard. To stand up for their rights. Knowing full well that they might be walking into a slaughter.
It is one of the most humbling expressions of humanity I have ever witnessed.
A trail littered with destruction. One that I cannot fully condone, but that I also cannot judge. I am not completely sure what these people are upset about. The fuel prices for one. A rumor that their education funds have been cut. But more likely, it is just another big hit after a long history of hits against them by a corrupt government that will continue to take from them if they don’t do something drastic. To be pushed to that limit time and time again would make anyone snap.
And snap they did.
President Moreno and the rest of the government have fled to Guayaquil, a city in the south.
While armed tanks await the arrival of the tribes.
What will happen when the two sides come face to face.
I hope not too much bloodshed.
But it doesn’t look good.
Videos of burning army trucks being pushed off of cliffs. Clouds of tear gas shot into crowds. Destructive raids at public water facilities across the country. Reports of police throwing people off of bridges.
According to friends of mine, while coups are not uncommon. This one has a different feel. Violence from both sides that is far beyond what normally transpires.
As the days wear on, it has only gotten worse. And while some in the expat community that surrounds me want to criticize the people for their actions. Going so far as to call them savages. I remember the history of my own country. One in which the native people were massacred and imprisoned on reservations where they remain today. A story that repeats itself all over the world throughout time.
And they’ve seen what happens when you don’t fight back.
We all have.
The suppression doesn’t stop.
So while I feel for the collateral damage in this war. And I wish there was another way. Who am I to say what is necessary or not. And if they don’t act. What will happen to them in the future. Because I do not think the people are to blame. They didn’t start the fight. The ones who left the city in fear and continue to use the system to destroy the lives of the poor for their own benefit so that they can become richer and more powerful. They are to blame. Hiding like cowards behind their money. Stealing the lands, resources and livelihoods from the tribes right out from under them. Not willing to stop until they have taken everything of value. Not caring who they hurt in the process.
Tomorrow is another official strike day. School has been cancelled until further notice. Grocery store shelves are empty with the fear that road closures or otherwise will prevent goods from reaching their destination. Military activity has increased. And rumors continue to swirl as to what really is going on. Because truthfully, it’s still hard to tell. As truckloads of people storm the city. From where I’m not sure and with what intent. It’s anyone’s guess.
Tomorrow will tell.
And so we wait.