A decade ago Lester Cano stopped feeling discriminated against for always wearing his classic cowboy hat and boots when he was walking through Guayaquil or another city in Ecuador. The clothes he wears wherever he goes, regardless of whether it is day or night, are part of the identity of this montuvio, 45 years old. Its ethnic origin was first recognized in the 2010 population census.
That year in the country 1,064,074 people were defined in the question on ethnic self-identification that until then only recognized the indigenous, Afro, mestizos and whites. Today, Lester feels that people stopped seeing him as “a strange being” and respect him.
Awareness of self-identification according to ethnicity is one of the most representative changes that society had since the last three population censuses conducted from 1990 to 2010. It also reflected a decrease in internal and external migration ; Ecuadorian schooling had a growth and technology became a tool for the development and generation of opportunities in the life of each Ecuadorian.
For Irma Bautista, national coordinator of Mujeres Negras ( Conamume ), with the ethnic self-identification , the problems of poverty , extreme poverty , lack of employment and education have been made visible . In addition, it has led organizations to make more and more proposals.
On the other hand, in the last 30 years there is an intense work on the part of the movements, organizations and associations of each town to achieve the rescue of the identity.
She remembers that the Afro people also experienced a historical process of discrimination. In 1990 his ethnicity was not recognized . “Before people preferred to be hidden. He was afraid of the census. ” But now, he says, he has created an awareness of identity and how important it is to define oneself or identify oneself.
Another of the changes observed between the 1990 census and the 2010 census is the reduction of external emigration. The Ecuadorian stopped emigrating to Spain, Italy, USA, the main destinations after the financial crisis of what triggered the bank holiday in 1999.
Between 1990 and 2001 the number of people who left increased by 142.1%, while between 2001 and 2010 the increase was 85.5%.
Fidel Márquez , professor of economic analysis and economic development and rector of the Ecotec University, explains that with the arrival of dollarization in 2000, Ecuador began to experience a process of economic recovery.
Jobs and new life opportunities were generated. All this made the migration to the outside stop. “It was more profitable to send resources to the country to solve the situation,” he noted.
Dollarization also made the middle class grow and with it the educational levels of necessity and aspirations.
According to Márquez, the middle class is the one who studies and seeks their social mobility. Precisely, between the censuses of 1990 and 2010, attendance at a teaching establishment increased. In the 1990s, 79.4% of the population attended an educational establishment ; in 2001 they did 79.0% and in 2010 90.1%.
The Academic Vice Chancellor of the Espol, Paúl Herrera, believes that there was an improvement in the budget allocation , but additionally people have a greater need to educate themselves. One of the characteristics of development and modernity is that more opportunities are created for those who are better prepared.
Today we have much more access to information than there was a decade ago. “Thanks to technology, there are new modalities of study , which bring education closer to people who have some kind of personal or economic limitation,” he said.
Likewise, the improvement in access to basic services allowed internal migration to decrease. In 2010, 5.8% of the population resides in a different place from the one that resided five years ago; in 2001 this proportion was 6.1% and in 1990 11.9%, according to statistics.
At present, the smaller enclosures have water, energy, telephone and even internet antennas . In rural areas, the supply of water service by public network is 45.10%, while the availability of electricity service is 88%.
According to the sociologist Homero Ramírez, the progress made by the country has allowed new opportunities to be created. ” Tourism has developed a lot and young people increasingly promote their ideas to boost their home sites,” he added.
Ramírez cites Cojimíes, in Manabí, as an example , and points out that it was no longer a town of poor people. “Before, young people emigrated to other cities to study at the university, but now they can do it online . Those possibilities did not exist in the 90s, ”he said.
The last population census of 2010 for the first time yielded data on the use of cell phones and technological devices in Ecuador. 26.3% of households said they use a computer; 13% have internet and 76.3% have at least one cell phone activated.
Oswaldo Moscoso, director of Computer Science Engineering at UTE University , explained that information technologies have changed lives in many positive ways. One of them allows better communication between people and new ways to trade in the country.
In addition, it has allowed Ecuadorians to enjoy a series of online services , which used to take a long time, such as bank transactions , medical appointments , service payments, tax payments , online education , etc.
Social networks have also greatly influenced being able to stay connected and have created new ways to conduct business and get jobs.
For Moscoso, the country is experiencing a time of many opportunities. Access to the network covers practically all regions of the country, which is why many Ecuadorians who previously did not have access to technology have it today.
There are even infocenters installed by the Government where people are trained in the use of computers , email and internet so that they can take advantage of the advantages that technology offers.
In Lester’s case , he uses cell phones and computers to communicate with his family, close deals and focus on promoting the traditional rides that take place in order to rescue his origins as montuvio.