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Peace Corps is accepting applications

Peace Corps is accepting applications

While Peace Corps is suspended for the pandemic, it is accepting new applications, expecting a return to service at some point.

2020 Covid Update

2020 Covid Update

Sorry for the long radio silence from Friends of Ecuador. Like many of you, we’ve been working from home for many months in the midst of the coronavirus epidemic. COVID also hit Ecuador pretty hard, particularly the city of Guayaquil which faced challenges of bodies on the streets.

The situation there has improved but Ecuador remains vulnerable:

“More than 10,000 deaths were recorded in Guayas, the province where Guayaquil is located, during March and April, according to government data. Officials said this was nearly 6,000 more deaths than typically recorded under normal circumstances, authorities said. It is still unclear, however, how many died of COVID-19, the infectious disease caused by the novel coronavirus. Many others are believed to have died because they were unable to get proper treatment due to the city’s collapsed healthcare system. The situation in Guayaquil has since mostly stabilised, and its strict quarantine eased, but the city continues to feel the virus’s lasting effects.”

We will endeavor to bring you more news on a regular basis in coming months. Please consider supporting the two projects featured this month Mushuk Yuyay and Conciencia Amazónica.

Asociación Mushuk Yuyay: Fair Purchase of Cañari 2020 Native Grain Harvest

Asociación Mushuk Yuyay: Fair Purchase of Cañari 2020 Native Grain Harvest

We encourage our Friends of Ecuador community to support Mushuk Yuyay, an organization we have worked with for several years. 

You can support them through the Ecuador Relief Fund here.

They are hoping to raise $35,000 but whatever support we can provide would be helpful.

The Asociación Mushuk Yuyay is an indigenous-led financial and agricultural cooperative located in the region of Cañar, Ecuador. The association employs a network of local producers to grow native staple crops such as quinoa and amaranth, the harvest of which is purchased by the association at a just price and sold under a commercial label named ‘Alli Mikuna’ – ‘Good Food’ in the native Kichwa language. This label sells their grains primarily to communities within Ecuador, but international purchasers have also shown interest in this nutritious food.

In May 2020, local producers in Cañar initiated the harvest of their staple crops and in June 2020 celebrate the FIESTA DE INTIRAYMI – Kañari festival of the Sun, in gratitude to the Earth Mother Pachamama for the harvest reaped.

During the 2020 harvests, the local production is anticipated to yield:

  • 180,000 Kilograms = 396,828 pounds of BARLEY
  • 21,600 Kilograms = 47,606 Pounds of QUINOA

Under normal circumstances, 40% of this crop is purchased by the Association Mushuk Yuyay, 30% saved for farmer consumption and seedstock, and 30% sold to the local market.

Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, the local markets have remained closed for sanitation purposes, and many producers are left with the question: where to sell the remaining 30% of the crop? With no other outlet of sale, local farmers will likely have to sell to middleman exporters rock-bottom rates for their traditional grain.

In response to this, the local producers in Cañar have requested Asociación Mushuk Yuyay raise funds to purchase the remaining 30% of the 2020 crop at a just price. This is the only available solution they see which does not lead to economic disruption and potential recession for the producers.

For this specific reason, Asociación Mushuk Yuyay has humbly requested donations from the international non-profit community in order to purchase the remaining 30% of this crop and protect their producers from economic exploitation by the export market.

New Project Support – Conciencia Amazónica

New Project Support – Conciencia Amazónica

Apologies for the radio silence from Friends of Ecuador. We’ve been using our Facebook page for regular news updates, and the coronavirus has made it challenging for us to be as active.

We have a new project to support from RPCV David Goucher, who served in Omnibus 94. Conciencia Amazónica is a new organization Dave is working with in the province of Morona Santiago to support an “Eco-Club.” You can donate on the link below and use the dropdown menu to specify Conciencia Amazónica. Your donations are tax deductible as FOE is a 501c3.

Conciencia Amazónica
Conciencia Amazónica was inaugurated on February 29, 2020, with the mission of working with local institutions to promote scientific education and artistic development across the Ecuadorian Amazon region.  While a Peace Corps Volunteer, the current president founded the EcoClub Siete Iglesias, which led to the establishment of Eco-tourism trails, scholarships for local valedictorians, and gave the necessary momentum to local authorities to establish a municipal ecological reserve.  Scholarship recipients have since graduated from national Universities, and now are professional biologists, schoolteachers, and play an active role as the new generation of community leaders and role models.

As a team comprised of a biologist, an environmental engineer, a cultural promoter, and a Dance Studio manager and expressive artist, Conciencia Amazónica now wants to promote the “Jungle as a Classroom” in the local schools and rural communities across the Ecuadorian Amazon, exploring the rich biodiversity with national and international scientists and artists, involving local leaders and school children alike, to educate environmental awareness and protection. 

We aim to empower local youth with knowledge of their surroundings, exploring from the microscopic level to the interaction of species across the ecosystem, providing unique opportunities for learning and artistic expression.  The flora and fauna from the rain forest will be the inspiration for painting, sculpture, theater, dance, and photography and other artistic means to teach the importance of conservation.  Promoting such activities will lead to income generating activities such as guided tours, eco-designs and artisan development, as well as employment in all ecotourism related activities, activating a new environmental consciousness, while respecting local traditions and customs.

Their Need

Lucinda Duy Quishpilema’s report on her Mexico Amaranth trip

Lucinda Duy Quishpilema’s report on her Mexico Amaranth trip

This is a guest post from Lucinda Duy Quishpilema on her trip to Mexico supported by FOE. More details in English from our last post from Alan Adams.

AMARANTO KURI MURU

“NIÑOS SALUDABLES FUTURO SALUDABLE 

Informe: Participación Primer Congreso Mundial de Amaranto

Proyecto: “Niños saludables Futuro saludable”

Beneficiaria: Lucinda Duy Quishpilema

Pueblo: Kichwa Cañari Región sur del Ecuador

Organización: Asociación de Productores de Semillas y Alimentos Nutricionales Andinos Mushuk Yuyay

Financiamiento: Friends of Ecuador

Lugar del evento: Puebla-Mexico

Fecha: 10, 11, 12 de octubre de 2018

Cañar 05 de noviembre de 2018

CAÑAR-ECUADORI. Introducción

En la región sur de Ecuador, los que habitan en el territorio del pueblo kichwa cañari y cañarense, según los investigadores de la ciencia andina y occidental consideran que culturalmente fueron y aún siguen siendo graneros, es decir el sistema de producción y/o la agricultura familiar cañari en cada ecosistema fue y aún practican la asociación, rotación y la diversificación de la producción tomando muy en cuenta el tiempo y el espacio.

Read More »

FOE Support for Mushak Yuyay Participation in Amaranth Congress pt. 1

FOE Support for Mushak Yuyay Participation in Amaranth Congress pt. 1

This is a guest post from Alan Adams on FOE Support for Lucinda Duy Quishpilema’s participation in an amaranth conference in Mexico. The next post will have Lucinda’s report. 

What Lucinda learned in Mexico she is already putting into practice. Last week she harvested 7 quintales of her own amaranth with her family. They separated about 50 lbs of the best for seed. Now Lucinda is preparing the products she learned about in Mexico. This is just the beginning. Before the Congreso opened, Mushuk Yuyay received a gift of 3 varieties of amaranth seed from Oaxaca, Mexico and 4 varieties from Guatemala. This will probably be planted next month, weather permitting.

Getting Lucinda to Mexico for the Primer Congreso Munial de Amaranto was a coordinated group effort on very short notice. We were not going to let this wonderful opportunity slip by. Besides the contribution from Friends of Ecuador, others gave to cover bus fare and other transportation costs, meals, and more expenses. Alana Mockler, mentioned in the report, is a former Global Citizen Year participant who was hosted by Lucinda and her family while she served in Ecuador. She helped raise money. When Lucinda arrived in Mexico DF, she was met by Slyler Narotsky, another former Global Citizen volunteer and member of Mushuk Yuyay, and by Juana Chuma who is a member of the the Cañari community. Both are students in Mexico City. They put Lucinda on the bus to Puebla.

Read More »

The Referendum

The Referendum

Former president Correa is barred from running from re-election after the recent referendum. There were also big victories to discourage mining and oil drilling in indigenous areas.

This from the Washington Post:

When Rafael Correa, Ecuador’s combative socialist president, decided not to run in his country’s 2017 presidential election, the move was widely interpreted as a tactical retreat.

The strategy, commentators agreed, was to let his protege, Lenín Moreno, keep his seat warm for a single term — and take the blame for the country’s stalling economy — while Correa’s approval ratings recovered ahead of a triumphant return in the 2021 election.

But if that was the plan, it has backfired spectacularly.

Ecuadorans voted overwhelmingly on Sunday to approve constitutional changes that bar Correa from ever becoming president again — and bury significant chunks of his legacy.

According to preliminary results, with 89 percent of ballots counted, 64.3 percent of voters backed a proposal to limit public officials to a single reelection, leaving Correa unable to run again.

The vote also included some other important priorities for environmentalists:

The referendum also included proposals to reverse two flagship Correa policies that had long infuriated Ecuador’s powerful indigenous movement. One proposal, to roll back mining in urban and protected areas, was approved with 68.9 percent of the vote. Another, to curb oil drilling in the stunningly biodiverse Yasuni National Park, home to some of the last indigenous people living in isolation anywhere in the Amazon, received 67.6 percent.

President is Trying to Cut Peace Corps Budget

President is Trying to Cut Peace Corps Budget

President Trump’s budget proposes cutting Peace Corps. Congress has the power to appropriate and largely disregarded the Trump budget last year, but it takes energy and calls to Congress to remind them to support Peace Corps.

This from NPCA:

The President’s budget for fiscal year 2019 was released today and it proposes a budget of $396 million for the Peace Corps. After already requesting a $12 million cut in fiscal 2018—the deepest from a White House in over 40 years—the 2019 request further reduces Peace Corps’ budget by another $2 million.

Ancient Pyramids just north of Quito

Ancient Pyramids just north of Quito

Have you heard of Cochasqui? I hadn’t.  This piece from Ancient Origins talks about a site not too far north of Quito:

The archaeological sites in Ecuador are often overshadowed by more popular locations in neighboring Colombia and Peru. However, archaeology enthusiasts have a wealth of options including more than just well-known Ingapirca to admire. Take for example the huge, 83.9-hectare site of Cochasqui, where pyramids and sacred animals patiently remind us that Ecuadorian archaeology holds more secrets than most people recognize. The debate is on: was Cochasquí a home for Quitu Cara elite, an astronomical observatory, a fortress, a sanctuary, or did it serve some combination of functions?

The pyramids were created with cangagua (a volcanic rock-like material). Scholar say the 160kg (352.74 lbs.) cut blocks of rock were softened with water and then cut using harder volcanic rock tools (the site was inhabited before the Iron Age).

Implications of the Referendum

Implications of the Referendum

Ecuador held a historic referendum which denied former President Correa a chance to run for the presidency again. The Washington Post argues that Ecuador is bucking an authoritarian trend in the region and around the world:

RAFAEL CORREA, like Vladi­mir Putin, Hugo Chávez and other authoritarian rulers, found himself stymied by term limits. So in 2015, the Ecuadoran president persuaded his legislature to lift a ceiling of two presidential terms by promising not to run in 2017. His idea was to install a follower for four years and then return to power, as Mr. Putin once did. Then, on Sunday, came a much-deserved comeuppance: Ecuadoran voters, prompted by Mr. Correa’s own successor, voted overwhelmingly to restore a two-term presidential limit, thus blocking the planned second act. It was a victory for democracy not just in Ecuador but also in a region where numerous rulers have sought to entrench themselves in power.

In other parts of the continent, leaders aren’t standing aside:

Voters elsewhere in Latin America appear eager to push long-serving leaders out of power; the problem is that the caudillos aren’t listening. Bolivian President Evo Morales lost a referendum to remove his term limit, but then induced the supreme court he appointed to void it. Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua and Honduras’s Juan Orlando Hernández similarly manipulated their courts. After extracting permission to run for reelection, Mr. Hernández most likely stole Honduras’s election last November.

Observers generally are pleased with the new president Ecuador and think the referendum was a positive break between the new president Lenin Morena and his predecessor Correa, who came from the same political party.