One thing I didn't know about before I came to Ecuador is that it's an election year. President Rafael Correa has proposed changing the Constitution, which has caused the country to be split on either a yes or no vote. All over the city you can see signs for an against the change, and it's an issue that everyone from professors to taxi drivers will be happy to discuss with you.
The main issue to be changed is the distribution of land. If the Constitution were to be changed, many rich landowners could have some of their land taken by the government and given to poorer families. For this reason, there seems to be a split now between the upper and middle classes and the lower classes. One person put it this way: if the vote passes, there could be a civil war between the different classes. I don't know if it would be that serious, but it's definitely going to be an important thing to keep an eye on.
The person who told me this argued that many Ecuadorians have worked hard all of their lives to become rich and gain land, and for the government to suddenly say that they were going to take it away and redistribute it would not sit well at all. I'm not going to get into which side I think is right, and it wouldn't matter because I'm not educated enough on the issues to know what I'm really talking about. Only a true Ecuadorian could have the insight to know what they're arguing about in this case. But it's interesting to see how things will play out.
The election will take place on September 28th, and all citizens are required by law to vote. I'm supposed to have a meeting and start teaching on the 29th, but was told that depending on the outcome of the election, it could be delayed. I take this to mean that there could be strikes or protests if the losing side isn't happy. Hopefully things won't get too dangerous down here.
Today in my Spanish class we were having a conversation about the election when our teacher asked us to explain to him, in Spanish, the electoral college system and how we elect a president in the United States. This could be something very difficult to explain in our own language, let alone our second, but we gave it a shot. And just as we were about to talk about it, there was a rolling black out throughout the city.
At first all we could do was sit in the dark and use the moonlight and our own natural night vision to see. But after a few minutes we were given a candle and started to discuss American politics. The four of us sat there exchanging ideas and talking about the beginnings of the electoral college. I thought how ironic it was that we should be sitting in the dark discussing politics by candlelight, possibly the way it was done when the electoral system began.
At the end of the lesson, our teacher still didn't fully understand, but he at least had a better idea of how the system was meant to work. We told him that a lot of is was supposed to work in theory, but often didn't work out that way, just like the politics in most nations. We left class and just as we closed the door the lights came back on.
Walking down the street, I decided to roll the dice and buy a $1 taco from a Mexican restaurant. Right now I'm feeling a little loopy, and I'm hoping it doesn't get any worse. The meat they stacked up on the tortilla didn't look entirely welcoming, and it could be a rough night. I just hope I can make it out of this mess.