The indigenous political movement in Ecuador has been totally different in its essence from the nationalist movement that spread across South America in 20th century. The South American nationalism had been a blind imitation of European nationalism and it failed in many instances in a similar way to Western nationalism. High individualism, vulnerability to corruption, destructive influence on community support systems, and negligence of culture and tradition has been the vices that came out as the culmination of nationalism in Europe and USA. But in Ecuador, the political movement had its roots in modernity as well as tradition and was entirely based on a different paradigm.
It was in the fag end of 19th century that South America went through a process of modernization and nationalism emerged as a new shade in its socio-political horizon. This is what Snyder has called as the “transformation of nationalism from its oligarchic to a new populist form.” The Latin American countries rapidly modernized their infrastructure, transportation facilities grew, industries mushroomed, and there was a change over from “feudal agrarianism to urban industrialism.” But this was not the case in Ecuador. A transformation similar to what happened in Chile, Argentina or Mexico came into Ecuador only in 1970s. Even when the change came, it was not based on bourgeois nationalism as it was the case in almost all other South American countries. Ecuador had largely remained a feudal agrarian nation until the third half of 20th century. King has observed that the indigenous political movement in Ecuador has been a consequence of the revelation in 1970s that that this land had rich petroleum resources. Once, the outside pressure mounted to exploit those resources, the economic and cultural well being of the native people came under threat It was out of this struggle for survival that one of the world’s strongest political movements emerged.
The development of a politically active and aware middle class was another phenomenon that Latin American countries witnessed in 20th century. In the first half of the 20th century, the whole of Latin America had seen a fresh revival of active political movements. But at that time, Ecuador was not moved by that social dynamics. The movement that shook Latin America had roots in ethnicity and was called the indigenista movement . All the same it had derived its essence from the European enlightenment as well And this movement was anchored on nationalism and bourgeois values. But in Ecuador, the movement was very weak in that period.
The first indigenous agitation group that was formed in Ecuador was Federacion Shuar established in 1962 . The major concern addressed by this organisation had been “land and agrarian rights” This grouping was territorial and culture specific . This group became a model and slowly, other similar organizations emerged. And finally these groups converged under umbrella organizations like, Federated Union of Natives of the Ecuadorian Amazon and Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of the Ecuadorian Amazon.
The decades, 1970s and 1980s saw the emergence of new indigenous political groups in Ecuador, their inter-alliances and mergers . The Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of the Ecuadorian Amazon was formally recognized by the Ecuador government in 1986 and it was officially acknowledged that these indigenous political groups were the political mouth pieces of the native people. King has listed the major issues addressed by this movement as, “(1) land and agrarian rights, (2) questions of local and regional autonomy and self determination, and, (3) issues of cultural identity and legal rights relating to educational and linguistic policies.” It is also been inferred that though the indigenous political movement in Ecuador started as environmental agitations, the focus point of attention shifted gradually to “language, culture and education” . This focus on education, language and culture has been what made this movement socially relevant while the nationalist movement in South America had gradually succumbed to corruption, and use of military power.
Brazil directed its nationalism to the evolutionary goal of modernization. Argentina, always hovering on the brink of change, sought a balance between bourgeois and populist nationalism. Cuba and Bolivia dedicated themselves to progress through revolution. The nationalist leaders of Chile and Venezuela spoke the language of revolution, but were willing to adopt the strategy of evolutionary means. Peru and Columbia sought change, but also tried to retain what they deemed best and most useful from the past.” .
Here, it can be seen that all these nations had adopted a socially relevant development paradigm only in piecemeal. But Ecuador presented its progression from ethnicity to assertion of rights to education and culture as a socially creative alternative.
The industrial workers all over the South American countries had started to organize themselves on nationalist and leftist lines in the 20th century itself. The political movement was nationalistic up to 1930s, but from then onwards, a communist line also paralleled the movement. Both the Ecuadorian political movement and the South American nationalism had their roots in the sense of dignity that was culturally very important for the Latin Americans. But the South American movement as a whole did not become mature enough to prevent dictators and juntas from wielding totalitarian authority.
Instead, in Ecuador, the political realm was totally rooted in “ethnic pride” rather than the enlightenment ideology of nationalism The beauty of this political experiment was that the Ecuadorian political movement “did not aim to preserve indigenous social and political organization, but to transform it in ways that made it more just and efficient.” Torre and Striffler have also described the dual nature of the indigenous movement of Ecuador, which was again a unique feature that put it apart from the nationalist movement in . First of all they have tried to develop an organizational firm which has certain autonomy from the state. But all the same, the members of these movements wanted to be accepted into the main stream society of Ecuador as full-fledged citizens.
The importance given to intercultural bilingual education, establishment of rural schools, the effort invested in teaching Quichua language and philosophy, the attempts to integrate indigenous cultural values into Christianity, and the agitations launched against globalization and structural adjustments had been some highlights of the movement in Ecuador. These aspects which blend tradition with modernity has been absent in the nationalistic movement. This movement has also succeeded to become an intermediary between the community and the state, as well as between the community and the international development agencies. All these specific characteristics differentiate the Ecuadorian political movement from South American Nationalism of 20th century.
Torre Carlos de la and Striffler, Steve, The Ecuador Reader: History, Culture, Politics, Durham: Duke University Press, 2008.
King, Kendall A., Language Revitalization Processes and Prospects: Quichua in the Ecuadorian Andes, Bristol: Multilingual Matters, 2001.
Snyder, Louis Leo, The New Nationalism, New Jersey: Transaction Publishers, 2003.
How to place an order:
Select your academic level and the number of pages and pick a desired deadline
Then press “Order Now”
Add your instructions
Choose writer’s category
Make a payment
Get your paper before the deadline
Not Ready to pay? Try for free!free inquiry