On February 19 we had a presidential election which brings to mind a number of observations.
In Ecuador, at age 16, you are eligible to vote; from age 18-65 voting is mandatory; over 65 it’s not mandatory; even if you’re not a citizen, if you have permanent legal residency, you can vote. The political parties must submit their tickets to the election commission within a window of time and shortly thereafter campaigning can begin.
This year, eight parties submitted tickets for president and vice president and for the National Assembly (Ecuador’s Congress) and the Andean regional assembly. On a Friday the 16th, two months of campaigning stopped, signs came down, bars closed, public consumption and sale of alcohol was forbidden (i.e,, dinner out without your wine!). Sunday, February 19, was voting day and on Monday noon the alcohol restriction ended.
Counting the votes took longer than usual with both major parties alleging irregularities, holding rallies and making accusations. There was no outright winner, which requires one candidate to get a majority of the vote or 40% with a 10% lead over the second-place finisher. So on to a runoff election April 2 between the top two candidates.
The choice is between leftist Lenin Moreno, who represents President Rafael Correa’s Alianza País and Guillermo Lasso, a conservative and former Guayaquil bank executive.
This time, only three weeks of campaigning is allowed, beginning March 10. All the usual noise and political shenanigans are on display, with all the parties and organzations in opposition to Correa having joined Lasso to make the election a referendum on Correa’s ten years in office.
The choice seems to be: Do we want a much less flamboyant, but probably much realistic socialist or a conservative banker for our next president? We will soon know the answer.
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For those who are interested, my retina attachment surgery and injection of silicon oil to hold the retina in place was six months ago. That left me basically blind in my left eye while I needed to wait 6-8 months to see how it would work out.
The six months have gone by and now my Dr. tells me it will be another 6-8 months. The original infection which led to the detached retina caused a lot of damage and he doesn’t want to remove the oil too early and risk another detached retina. Neither do I and although living with one eye is quite manageable there are daily little things, such as blurred vision in a tired right eye, which at times, bring me to exclaim: “D**n, I wish I had two good eyes.”
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I had quite a shock a couple of weeks ago. My legs weren’t working all that well and I had to stop twice while walking up the 86 steps of the escalinatas. While waiting for traffic to clear, a young woman appeared at my side and said something. I finally figured out that she was asking if I wanted help to cross the street. When the traffic cleared, she took my arm while we crossed the street and, afterwards, we went our separate ways.
But what a shock! Did I really look that old and decrepit? I know that I am not as physically able anymore as I used to be but I don’t, in any way, feel old. I suppose I have carried a picture in my head of what an old man looks like and I don’t fit that picture at all. I was able to remember the Spanish for “thank you for your help” as my assistant and I parted ways. I was touched by her thoughtfulness, the kind of thing that continues to show up from time to time here in Cuenca.
Cuidense. And my love, Dave