Local Ecuadoreans Wrapped Up In Presidential Election Back Home

In Long Island City, Queens, from the left, Zanoni Cuesta, Georgeline Paredes, Patricio Salazar and Wendy Palma, from branch 17 of the Ecuadorean Socialist Party. (Photo by Javier Castaño via Queens Latino)

The Feb. 19 election in Ecuador and the United States has captured the attention of the Ecuadorean community in the New York metro area. President Rafael Correa visited St. John’s University on Jan. 13 to support the candidates of his Alianza País party: Lenín Moreno, who is running for president, and Ximena Peña and Cristóbal Lamar-Salas, running to represent Ecuadoreans in the United States and Canada in the national assembly.

Friday, Jan, 20, at 9:30 p.m.: The four candidates of branch 17 of the Ecuadorean Socialist Party sit at a table at the Taxi Workers Alliance in Long Island City to lead a political debate that should have started two and a half hours earlier. There was romantic music by Luis Touma, Colombian vallenatos by La Chachi, and food and drinks. “El Chapín” was the host for the night.

The first to speak was Al Negrón, from Miami, who said that “this is a civic night with young candidates who don’t have the vices that have plagued us Ecuadoreans and that have done nothing for immigrants.”

Then, candidate Patricio Salazar followed, saying that he supports education and that he donated computers for Ecuadorean students. “President Correa stole my idea to buy one computer per child, but he did it at a higher price than what I had negotiated. It is the dark hand of the government, which has Consul Jorge López as its main representative here in New York. There is a great deal of corruption and, if I win, I will cut my salary in half,” said Salazar.

“They know me as an artist and singer, but not as a politician,” said Wendy Palma. “I am prepared and, as a woman who has never stolen a penny, I want to fight against the shamelessness shown by Correa’s government, who have done nothing for Ecuadorean immigrants.”

Zoila Jervis, from Mujeres Exitosas (“Successful Women”) and Lupita Carvajal, from Belleza Latina (“Latina Beauty”) said that they support Palma’s candidacy.

The other candidate, Georgeline Paredes, said that she understands what it means to be an immigrant woman and that she has worked for the community. “We are the alternative, and I hope that you will vote for us at Queens College on Feb. 19.”

The next day, Paredes distanced herself from Palma on social media for the latter’s criticism of the Correa administration.

“Our project is social, economic and participative, and we will fight for the creation of the Ecuadorean immigrant bank abroad to offer security to our compatriots. Have faith in voting, because it is important, and our team is the change that stems from cultural diversity,” said Zanoni Cuesta, who flew in from Chicago.

Over 60 people turned up to listen to the candidates from branch 17.

Cecilia Carrera and Freddy Naranjo, from the Social Christian Party, branch 6, chatting with their compatriots at the Sabor Latino Restaurant in Queens. (Photo by Javier Castaño via Queens Latino)

Sunday, Jan. 22, 4:30 p.m., Sabor Latino Restaurant: The appointment was at 2 p.m. but the candidates for the Social Christian Party (Partido Social Cristiano, or PSC), branch 6, still had not taken the microphone to talk about their projects to the over 40 people in attendance, who listened to salsa, cumbias and boleros at a high volume as they ate appetizers placed on white tablecloths.

“We support Guayaquil native Cynthia Viteri’s candidacy for president of Ecuador,” said Cecilia Carrera, from Uniondale, Long Island. Her fellow party candidate, Gerardo Mejía, who lives in Kentucky, did not appear at the event.

“The PSC chose me because I am an evangelical Christian and I am trustworthy. We Ecuadoreans fear God, and I believe that religion needs to be part of the government. I am against gay marriage and against gay couples adopting children, although they can express themselves however they want. We are also against the 4×4 law, we want to increase the amount of money that Ecuadoreans are able to withdraw in Ecuador, and we will reform the capital gains tax, which penalizes Ecuadoreans by taking 35 or 75 percent of their property sale revenue in Ecuador,” said Carrera, standing in a dimly-lit corner at Sabor Latino.

Carrera added that, with or without papers, Ecuadoreans are entrepreneurial and that they need to receive more information from both countries’ governments. Next to her was Freddy Naranjo, her PSC alternate candidate. “Our ideology is right-leaning, supports hard work, and we want to eliminate the press law that prevents freedom of expression in Ecuador. We Ecuadoreans abroad send nearly $2.2 billion to our country, and we receive no support from the government,” said Naranjo.

Ecuadoreans abroad elect six candidates to the National Assembly: two for Latin America, two for the United States and Canada, and two for Europe and the rest of the world.

“All these candidates are disconnected from the community, they ignore the reality of this nation and this city, so they cannot really offer support to Ecuadoreans abroad,” said activist Walter Sinche. “Moreover, some of these political parties are an extension of Alianza País, the party of President Correa’s government.”



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