Who’s first, second or third?

Jan 29, 2018 | 0 comments

“It’s not a third-world country!”

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve told that to my mother and some of my friends back in the US when they question how I could live in Ecuador.

My mother has no excuse, she’s been here.  But to her, there was poverty everywhere and the living conditions were not what she is used to.  My friends have no excuse because while many of them have been to third world countries, none have been here yet!

Actually, the most ridiculous thing about it all is that they all are fed up with the shenanigans going on in the US.  They question what is happening to the country they grew up in and wonder if there might be somewhere better to go to.  And yet, they haven’t considered Ecuador (except for my mother…who made it clear that this was not the place for her!).

Well, this is my shout out to them and all of the people you know who ask you the same questions.  This is NOT a “third-world” country.  I know, I’ve been to many.

Let me ask you [them] this, “What is a “third-world country?  How do you define it?”  According to Wikipedia, the term actually arose during the Cold War to mean countries that “remained non-aligned with either NATO or the Communist Bloc.”

However, history and the changing political alliances have altered the context of that meaning (and will continue to do so).  Rather than being a political identifier, the term has more recently come to define countries that are economically depressed and/or have no industry.  But to the average person, it means countries that have none of the conveniences, cleanliness and comfort of countries of the US and most of Europe.

The control room of a new hydro electric project near Cuenca.

Now, without getting into the updated meaning of “first-world and second-world,” I challenge everyone to ask themselves these questions.  What do you call a country that:

• Is giving its people the right to approve a referendum placing term-limits on the President and other politicians?

• Has top-level medical services that rival those found in the US (albeit a bit delayed in adoption of some newer procedures) at a fraction of the cost?

• Still allows open immigration with a relatively easy application process?

• Has strong workers rights that protect most of its citizens from abuse by their employers?

• Has embraced alternative energy options and has invested heavily in hydroelectric power?

• Is a Democracy that requires  its citizens to vote?

• Is one of the 17 “megadiverse” countries in the World?

• In its Constitution recognizes the “Rights of Nature?

Now, is that a first, second or third-world country?  Except for Ecuador, what other countries can live up to all of that?  I propose that there are not too many.

Look, I’m not trying to say that Ecuador is the best country in the world, or that it is better than the US, or Canada, or wherever you [or your friends] are from.  I’m just saying, it’s time for some of my friends [and yours] to get off the “third-world” bandwagon and come to their senses.

This is a country rich with opportunity, as safe as many other first-world countries, possesses what looks like a solid democracy where each person’s vote actually counts, and to say the least, is one of the most beautiful places on earth!

I for one am glad that that Ecuador allowed me to immigrate here.  Sadly, my home country now wants nothing to do with letting people from Ecuador immigrate there (we know three Ecuadorians who were recently denied travel visasto the US, with no reason given for their rejection).

And I’m really looking forward to seeing how term-limits affect a democracy (I personally believe it would solve a LOT of problems in the US).  It’s kind of like having a front-row seat to what originally happened in the US in the late 1700’s.

I’m going to close with an anecdote that brings all of this down to a personal level.  Last week, at our restaurant The Vegetable Bar, there was a massive power surge that blew through the entire Puertas del Sol neighborhood.  It wiped out a lot of our electrical appliances in the restaurant.  We fretted over this for an hour or so, and then our employees said, “It’s okay, the electric company will fix it.”  Well, I knew the electrical company would get the power surge problem settled.  But what they meant was that the electric company would pay for the damages.

Well, that’s a ludicrous thing to assume.  Yes it isn’t.  Because they did.  The very next day, Empressa Electica sent someone to see and record what was damaged from the power surge.  He arrived at 10 a.m., and by 3 p.m. had sent us an email letting us know they agreed with our clam and were going to repair everything we reported as damaged! [Unfortunately we missed two items, and there is not a mechanism to add them to a claim already approved.  But they are still covering 75%+ of the damage!]

Now, would a third-world company do that?  Or, would my electric company back in Denver have done that?

Ecuador is NOT a third-world country!

I’m just sayin.’

Michael Soares

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