NJ Activist Runs for Assembly in Ecuador


Karina Garcés (Photo via Reporte Hispano)

Karina Garcés (Photo via Reporte Hispano)

On Nov. 5, Ecuadorean activist Karina Garcés, from Newark, was officially designated as a candidate to the Andean country’s legislative assembly in Quito, Ecuador. She would represent her compatriots abroad, who must elect two representatives, for the U.S. and Canada.

After 15 years serving the community in Newark, Garcés says that she has a profound knowledge of the problems of the Ecuadorean community abroad, and that this is why she accepted joining the ranks of the CREO movement, which has Guillermo Lasso as the presidential candidate, for the upcoming February election.

“Unfortunately, although we have had people representing the migrants from this part of the world for a number of years, we do not have a site where Ecuadoreans can go to make their requests, complaints or claims. Congress members don’t only make laws, they should also worry about the daily needs of Ecuadoreans abroad,” she said.

For that reason, she intends to promote a law to create a ministry of the Ecuadorean migrant with offices in Madrid, New York and New Jersey.

The mother, activist and entrepreneur has taken time in the last few years to lend a hand to Ecuadoreans wherever fate has taken her.

As an executive at the municipality of Newark’s Office of International Relations and Diaspora Affairs, Garcés had a crucial role in implementing the municipal ID program and having the document allow her compatriots to open or consolidate their businesses in the city.

Garcés wants to take her community’s entrepreneurial empowerment to the next level. “There is an economic power within the Ecuadorean immigrant community that is being overlooked by the Ecuadorean state. We have Ecuadorean entrepreneurs in the gastronomy, transportation, construction and communication industries, which could turn into investments factors for our country. However, there aren’t enough incentives for them. That needs to change,” she pointed out.

She is advocating for the Ecuadorean government to offer effective assistance to repatriate the remains of migrants who have died overseas. “It is not right for my compatriots to go to a consulate, where they do their best, only to hear that it can’t be done, that there’s no room, that there is no money. We need to try to help that relative at that moment. [Ecuadorean migrants] contribute a lot of money in remittances to the country for them to deny us aid that is so small for the state but so important to a family without the resources. We want that to change.”

Garcés will seek to repeal the so-called “4×4 system,” which took effect in October 2014. The law allows Ecuadoreans abroad to send packages or parcels to their country weighing a maximum of 4 kilograms and valued at no more than $400.

She added that there is a dramatic reality that the state must face: the lack of access to health services for Ecuadoreans living overseas. Garcés is proposing that the Ecuadorean government establish an office to provide Ecuadoreans with preventive health information and help them find health assistance in their city or county, as well as provide direct health services.

“Many Ecuadoreans here are immigrants who have health insurance for their children born here, and they can sometimes benefit from that in some way, but they generally pay for very expensive health services, [such as] medical assistance costs, medical exams and medicines. The Ecuadorean state must help its migrants with a health center. If not, it would be killing the goose that lays the golden eggs,” she concluded.

Four years ago in the last election, 100,000 Ecuadoreans registered to vote in New York and New Jersey. On that occasion, an estimated 30,000 Ecuadoreans registered in the Garden State with a 40 percent of voter absenteeism.


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