It was 1999 when Carmen Jiménez got on a plane to migrate to Spain for 6 months. In his pocket he carried some sucres (bills and coins) that he had left after exchanging them for pesetas , the Spanish currency of that time.
He returned on February 15, 2000. When he got off the plane, his country had changed: the sucres he brought in his wallet were already obsolete. The dollar arrived as the new millennium did.
The 1990s were characterized by the crisis . In part it was due to the devaluation of the sucre – Ecuadorian official currency until then – bankruptcy , inflation , the freezing of deposits , among others.
Then came the year 1999. The instability worsened and the Central Bank of Ecuador sought to save the budget deficit , devaluing the sucre.
Then, the savings that Mariana Escobar had were devalued against the dollar. That’s why she decided to take her money and change it to the US currency. Thus, the dollar invaded the streets.
Édgar Hinojosa remembers the last months of the previous century. His job as a taxi driver forced him to receive money constantly, but there was one feature that did not happen in previous years: people paid his service in dollars.
“I always watched the news. As we were in crisis I also heard on the radio what was happening with the economy . There I knew how much the race cost, but the value was different from one day to the next, ”he recalled.
Thus, he asked his children to help him decipher how much each taxi race should cost. They, day by day, prepared a sheet with the costs of the service.
On January 9, 2000, the then president of Ecuador , Jamil Mahuad , announced that the dollar would be , from then on, the new currency. “It is a convenient and necessary system for Ecuador. It is the exit we now have. It is the path by which we must travel, ”Mahuad explained.
It was a sunday. The Mass did not sound the same. Outside the churches, typical sweets were not the main attraction. What invaded was the street sale of sucres . This is how Mariana remembers it.
With a dollar the history of the Ecuadorian currency was financed, which included 6 bills of different denomination. One of them was 5,000. “Historical and heritage,” says Édgar when he sees it. On the one hand, the face of the writer Juan Montalvo is embodied, and on the other, a galapago turtle that represents the most visited archipelago in the country.
The majority of citizens learned the exercise of buying and selling the currency. That happened to Ernesto Cóndor . His children studied in a community school and, thanks to them, he knew the equivalent. They had been instructed in the “ Know your dollar ” campaign . “In the commune we join to learn. It was not difficult. It seemed that it was less what we received, but in the end we all helped each other, ”recalls the work their leaders did.
At the end of January, Silvia Cervantes received the second monthly of her life in dollars. “It seemed little and I started to calculate. It was fine and it was enough for me to buy, ”he announced.
Carmen, on the other hand, went to the places of purchase with dollar coins and asked the sellers to “take what it cost,” he says. But there were still citizens who refused to leave the sucre. Some for comfort, others for the requirement of economic sovereignty .
The National Congress , in February 2000, decided to issue the Law for the Economic Transformation of Ecuador that would allow Ecuadorians to change their sucres to dollars . It was in August 2000 when the sucre was no longer valuable . Today it is part of collectors items.
“I don’t think we should leave this currency (the dollar),” is heard unanimously among the interviewees. For them, who experienced the crisis, the dollar was a salvation chart that should not be released.