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My Country for a Latin Strongman
[Opinion] Ecuador asks for a new government to replace its deposed leader, but how "new" will it be?
Maria Pastora Sandoval Campos (mariepelou)     Print Article 
Published 2005-04-21 13:37 (KST)   
Former president Lucio Gutierrez
South America was the paradise that European conquerors dreamed of, and I think this image still lives in the collective mind here. People want to breathe the air of freedom, but they want to do so in their own special disorder, like a kind of magic.

The disorder in South America (which, believe it or not, we enjoy) is a mark of our land, and of our governments. We have always dreamed of order, of the paths of our European friends. We always want to be better than we are now. But we live a contradiction: We want to be like others, but we are not them.

I was surprised when I discovered that the phrase coup d'etat has no English equivalent. Language is an indicator of people's minds, and I thought, "We have a Latin way of thinking." We love the magical solution, the "start from zero," the "we want to break all the old things to make them new."

That's why in Ecuador, in our special style, the desire of being better today is the feeling of the Ecuadorians. Happy about the removal of President Lucio Gutierrez, they don't care about international opinion, because their intent is to improve the country.

The decision to vote out Gutierrez, a former army colonel accused of mismanagement and nepotism, was made by Congress, which had concluded he violated the constitution by twice dissolving the Supreme Court. Vice President Alfredo Palacio has taken the helm saying, "Today has ended the dictatorship, the immorality, the great power, the terror of fear."

My Ecuadorian friends tell me they want a Contreras, a Pinochet, or a Suarez in their country, and I think today will not be the end of the dictatorship. Latinos want strongmen who are able to end corruption, and don't care if it is the people who have to pay the price. And the price is what they have just finished paying.

The fantasy about advancing in Latin America is always in our minds, but we want to do it by doing like others. The magic formula is not being like Europeans or having the army control the government; the solution is making a deep change to our mindset.

This is very difficult because our culture urges us to take the easiest paths in life. We think discipline comes from the head of the government and we have a need to be constantly watched. But the way to improve ourselves is within us, and is not the magical solution we always dreamed of.

We in South America want the world to notice us, to see we can better ourselves, but in the process we are not being ourselves. Is the solution near? But another contradiction about South Americans is that, despite the upheaval, we are happy. We still have our style: the Latin one.
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©2005 OhmyNews
Maria Pastora Sandoval Campos, who hails from Chile, is an assistant professor of digital journalism at a university in Santiago. She is working as a journalist and loves her career and its relation to the Internet. Her blog, in Spanish, is e-dentidad.
Other articles by reporter Maria Pastora Sandoval Campos

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