When 30 years ago Nicolás López left Azogues, his hometown in Ecuador, there were no roads, no nearby schools in his locality and of course no opportunity for advancement. Now, after having seen from a distance the rise and fall of more than seven leaders of his country, he is preparing to fulfill his right to vote in the Presidential election of this South American nation this Sunday, in one of the four polling stations licensed in New York. Although he confesses that he will come with a certain disappointment and little emotion.
“Years go by and what you hear is that whoever comes to power is to steal. Are made billionaires in a while. And the population has no option to progress. That is why we emigrate. I have worked in restaurants, as a builder, and I have been able to do things, which in my country is impossible. 12 years ago I returned and my town was the same. Just a road. It’s a disaster, ”said the 70-year-old retiree who has lived between The Bronx and Corona in Queens.
Nicolás is one of the 40,350 qualified people to vote in the state of New York, one of the most important electoral blocks of the Ecuadorian diaspora abroad, who will have the option of participating in these elections to choose a new president in the second round. On the table are the options of the leftist Andrés Arauz and rightist Guillermo Lasso.
“We are still Ecuadorians”
There is a history of apathy. On February 7, when the first electoral round for the Ecuadorian presidential elections was held, the 80.47% of those registered to vote in the tri-state area of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, he abstained from going to the polls.
“In Ecuador voting is mandatory, but we immigrants have the duty to go out and participate as a family to support this constitutional conquest that cost a lot. In the last election due to the terrible weather conditions and also due to the fears of the coronavirus, only 20% of us went out to vote. But this sunday must be different”, Reacted the journalist Virginia Burgos, resident of Queens.
The immigrant who urges her compatriots residing in the Big Apple to vote en masse, believes that it is imperative that the “voice of those of us who leave the country feel strong, since we are still Ecuadorians ”.
“On Sunday there are two options. One that is on the side of the people and the other of the interests of minorities. The voice of the people will be the voice of God, ”said Burgos.
For its part, Enrique Fernández, 89, who walked at a slow pace through the streets of Corona in Queens, 30 years he packed his suitcases from Guayaquil and he resided in New York. Now, he describes that “he feels sad because a few years ago things began to improve there. Everything now is a setback, even more so in the last five years ”.
“I follow the news from my country in detail. Right now there a lot of hunger and poverty. The hospitals in my town are saturated. People die not only from viruses, but from hunger and violence. That is hardly said by the current President ”, the immigrant said.
“Desperate to get out”
Fernández who assures will vote for the formula of Andrés Arauz, of the trend of former President Rafael Correa, does not hesitate to assure that this nation “will sink” if the option of “the bankers” wins, with reference to the candidate Guillermo Lasso.
“The poor when Correa sent were better. He didn’t take anything from them. Rather it gave them. Now again the people of my country are desperate to get out, like my generation. Look at that horrible fact that happened with those girls who were thrown over the border.That is despair!”, He commented.
The Guayaquil man who lives in Jamaica, Queens, refers to a case that the world saw with amazement this week through social networks, when two small Ecuadorians, Yareli and Jazmina, 3 and 5 years old, respectively, were thrown by a man from the top of a wall from the border of Mexico to the United States.
According to national media versions, the two girls were handed over in Mexico to an organization of “coyotes” to reunite them with their parents already in New York and luckily they were rescued by the border patrol near El Paso in Texas.
“That is a very clear example of the crisis in my country. If we don’t get back on track, we will continue to see that news. That has a lot to do with the fact that here in New York immigrants have lost their jobs. And part of our people depend on the money that is sent from here. That’s why everything is worse now. ”, Reflected Fernández.
“Ecuadorians need work”
According to figures from the 2010 census, they are 266 thousand Ecuadorians established in New York, the neighborhoods of Corona and Jackson Heights in Queens It is one of the most important epicenters of the diaspora of that Andean nation in the world. But also one of the hardest hit by the public health crisis caused since last spring by the coronavirus.
In the final stretch of the General Elections of Ecuador, on the busy Roosevelt Avenue, there were posters of the two presidential options in this second round. In fact, in previous weeks representatives of both formulas personally visited the tri-state area to motivate the vote among the voters of the diaspora.
The informal merchant, María Delfín, 50 years old, who sells masks on the streets of Queens, interprets that his compatriots “cannot allow communism to establish itself in their country.”
“I was unemployed due to the pandemic. I had no choice but to go out on the street to sell because you have to survive. From here I have to help my niece in Cuenca, for me to study. Those who have ruled for the last ten years caused a disaster. I think we should bet on a change. Not to return of fugitives from justice to power, ”claimed María, who assures that she will not be able to vote because she could not register. But he insists on his friends and family to vote for the right-wing Guillermo Lasso.
“We need a president who will give businessmen facilities. Not chasing them. Our relatives in Ecuador need work. Not only that they tell him to they are going to give away money. Look at what happened to Venezuela for following those revolutions ”, he concluded.
Ready the process in NY
The Consul General of Ecuador In New York, Carlos Martinez He assured that although it has been very complex to organize an electoral process in the midst of a pandemic, everything is ready so that participation this time “is massive in the second round.”
“We are managing to move it forward. It has been very complicated first by the location and authorization of the four electoral facilities that we will have, but to set up the tables through volunteers ”, he specified.
Martínez reminded Ecuadorians to use the digital consultation tools available to confirm their voting center and thus avoid unnecessary crowds in the electoral centers arranged.
“We must remember that to have the right to vote on April 11, voters must have registered before June 14, 2020 in the National Electoral Council. To do so, it does not matter that your identification as a passport or identity card is not valid, ”the consular official reported.
“For quality consular services”
For its part, Paulo Baquerizo, campaign manager of the formula Andrés Arauz in New York outlined that the current consular services offered to immigrants in general in the tri-state area must be recovered with “quality and warmth.”
“When immigrants living here go out to vote, they will also do so to regain their excellence in consular services that should be an integral support for our people. It is intolerable that a procedure such as obtaining a passport takes from eight months to a year ”.
The political leader also referred to hundreds of construction workers and other services that earn by the hour or by the day, while they are subjected to long and complicated procedures, which makes them lose full days.
“This causes a harm to our families. We need to regain services on Saturdays and Sundays. This was achieved with the citizen revolution of former President Correa: true support for our immigrants, ”he stressed.
Baquerizo indicated that hundreds of Ecuadorians living in New York have extensive experience in the construction and they would like to undertake in their localities of origin.
“That is why we need an open-door government and a consulate to accompany them to rejoin the economic system. Many have 20 and 30 years abroad and they do not have a record in the financial system, when they intend to return to the country to invest or participate in bilateral businesses, everything gets complicated ”, he concluded.
Likewise, Luis Gongora representative of the campaign Guillermo Lasso in New York and Canada He urged his fellow citizens to participate in this democratic day and take advantage of the voting tool that Ecuadorians have even if they live in another country.
“On Sunday the future is decided between two options, one is the path to socialism and continuity. And the other to change, to job creation and freedom of expression, “he said.
The 4 locations to vote in NY:
- El Bronx: Mott Haven Educational Campus, 730 Concourse Village, NY, 10451
- Queens: John Brown High School. 63-25 Main St, NY, 11367
- Peelskill: Peekskill Senior Center 4 Nelson Ave. Peekskill, NY 10566
- Patchoghe: Knights of Columbus Hall 38 W. First St., Patchogue, NY 11772
Ecuadorians in the second round:
- 36% of the votes In the first round, they were in favor of the presidential candidate Andrés Arauz in the electoral centers of New York, obtaining 11 points above his opponent Guillermo Lasso.
- 8,000 voters Approximately, of the more than 40 thousand citizens of the Andean country authorized to vote, went to the polls on February 7 when the first round was held.
- 410,000 Ecuadorians They are authorized to vote in 43 countries.
- 9,75% of the total number of Ecuadorians registered to vote abroad live in New York.
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See article in El Diario NY