ECUADOR: Without unlimited presidential terms the country’s growth is also “unlimited”

February 18, 2018

By Eddy Montilla.

For a decade, the former President Rafael Correa governed Ecuador not as a democratic country, but as a private property with political allies that look like puppets moved by pulling the strings of interest and political supporters who were partially blinded by ignorance and poverty. The remoras that took advantage of the situation saw the perfect setting to keep “milking the cow” when lawmakers of Ecuador’s National Assembly approved unlimited presidential terms in 2015. Their plan looked perfect: Correa takes vacations from his presidency while a “trustworthy person” keeps the seat warm for his return in 2021. And what happened? Correa didn’t predict that the current President, Lenín Moreno, would react to an extent contrary to any possible return of the former president. In few words, the cow no longer gave milk, got tired of being milked and Correa and his friends were gored.

I have never been a staunch critic of Correa and his administration, but of the way he destroyed Ecuador’s democracy. In fact, if the global economic crisis in 2008 did not sink Ecuador, an economic collapse that seemed imminent (considering that the global financial crisis of 2008 beat down the Ecuadorian economy, decreasing the price of oil, Ecuador’s main export) is largely attributable to Rafael Correa and the measures implemented for his administration. His social and economic reforms made a difference in the lives of people in Ecuador. However, this good things cannot draw a veil over the problems created by him on Ecuador’s democracy.

Rafael Correa in Ecuador, similar to Hugo Chávez in the past and Nicolás Maduro now in Venezuela, Evo Morales in Bolivia, Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua and others share the same problem: They consider themselves messianic prophets and the only saviours of their respective countries’ woes. Drunk with power, they end up acting as other did in the past: like dictators disguised as good people who work for the benefit of the others.

For many Ecuadoreans (most of them Correa’s followers), the current President Lenín Moreno is just a traitor who foiled Correa’s plan to be reelected. For others, he is just another politician. At this moment, the truth is that it is impossible to assess the quality of his work as President. In any case, President Moreno and those who voted in the referendum to prevent unlimited presidential re-election were absolutely right. Eternal presidents are not necessary in any country. Ecuador has hundreds if not thousands of people who can do a similar or better job than Rafael Correa did in the past. Latin America has a long history of bad presidents and crimes committed by dictators. If former president Rafael Correa wants to continue helping his country, why is it necessary for him to do it from the presidential chair?

This article was originally published in the digital newspaper World And Opinion.

Photo: By courtesy of Eduardo Navas under the criteria of Creative Commons (Flickr, 2-18-2018).

Copyright 2018 All rights are reserved.


Rankings of life expectancy based on death. What a mistake!

December 3, 2017

By Eddy Montilla.

We always put the idea of living forever before any other wish. Since it is an impossible human situation, we are content with merely increasing the number of years. It is no coincidence that different international organizations like OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development), for example, brings regularly their classic life expectancy rankings using its antithesis, death, as a parameter to calculate people’s longevity. This way of calculation looks perfectly normal, but normal things are not always synonymous with correct and logical. It is life itself what should be taken into consideration, that is, these people’s physical and mental health conditions.

It is not hard to imagine all those people in charge of making those rankings receiving data from different countries and working from the comfort of their desks. Later, they will tell us that Japan leads the world in that field. But, have they ever seen how and where many of those old people who keep Japan in first place are living? Probably not.

To see old Japanese people in a nursing home or hospital is undoubtedly a depressing experience: Bedridden old people who need to be attached to a machine, unable to move or speak and groaning with pain. Since they have lost their motor ability, they are being fed with Racol, for instance, a liquid for tube or oral feeding consisting of semi-digested protein, lipid, carbohydrate, electrolyte, trace elements, and vitamins through a feeding tube, which will let them live in that condition for more than a decade. In the beginning, close relatives will go to visit those sick people every week for an hour. Once they get tired, every three or six months, some of them only once a year or when they get a euphemistic phone call from hospital requiring their presence as soon as possible. The employee in charge to prepare the corpse will move lightly the lips of the deceased pretending that he or she died peacefully. In the crematorium, someone will talk about the “long life” his relative had.

In mathematical terms, his idea might be right, but it has no place in real life since those people are biologically alive and functionally dead. The question then is why does this happen? Reasons have little to do with religion, for example, if we take into consideration that Japanese people usually dedicate on average 20 seconds or so per year to pray on New Year’s Day. Their practical approach leads them to think that what truly matters for them is to cling to life and keep those sick people breathing. Besides, business plays an important role in this situation because each of these people’s breath moves millions of yen every day.

Although to a lesser extent, a lot of long-lived people’s situation in Japan could be similar to other people’s in most developed countries, which means that regarding those world rankings of life expectancy, we need a new approach that takes account of the true nature of the situation and its reality. we hope it will not be the age the person had when died what decides at the end of the day life expectancy, but other factors too, such as up to what age that person could play a productive role and, in the worst case, until what point of his or her life we could have some kind of communication with that person. Otherwise, I think that many people prefer to live only the happy 70 years of a Latin-American rather than the 80 years and something of someone in any rich country of OECD, considering that he or she could spend the extra years that the health insurance and social welfare can provide looking at the white ceiling of a room in a hospital or nursery home or looking through the window the street that someday will take him or her to a cemetery.

This article was originally published in the digital newspaper World And Opinion.

Copyright 2017 All rights are reserved.

SPAIN: Carles Puigdemont threw stones and hid his hands

November 19, 2017

By Eddy Montilla.

During its long history, Spain has seen almost everything: From great artists and writers to a dictator masquerading as a nationalist and friend. What that beautiful country had never imagined was its own democracy teetering on the brink of disaster because of a volatile and unstable politician: Carles Puigdemont.

Since Catalonia began to flirt with the idea of independence, its president, Carles Puigdemont, played the old children’s game where a child threatened several times to hit another child from behind, but didn’t do it until he could catch him off guard and felt safe enough to run away without being caught. The problem here is that a declaration of independence is not a game and it has significant impact on the economic and social life of those who are in Spain and even in Europe.

Curves created by Puigdemont’s indecisive actions with each step he took never allow birth and develop the linear growth that the Catalans needed if they really wanted to make real the full promise coming from their independence ideas. For example, at first, Puigdemont and his group threatened to declare independence unilaterally, but it went no further than these words which, though forceful, are nevertheless only words. Later, when they finally decided to declare it as their last shot, they were unable to sustain it and while the naive and partisans remained in the front line on the battlefield in Catalonia, to defend their failed independence attempt under the risk of ending up in jail as it exactly happened, Puigdemont and his circle left the country when they realized that the President of the Government, Mariano Rajoy, did not look like a dove holding an olive branch with the application of Article 155. The fainthearted are never judged harshly, but mercifully since they behave according to their own weakness, but how should those who roared like a lion and when the moment of truth arrived threateningly, turned out to act like puppies with their tail between their legs be judged?

Participating in the coming elections after having declared Catalonia’s independence is somehow a way to admit that their declaration was only a fairy tales with a sad-and-sorry ending. If political wisdom and sense prevail, the Catalans should not talk about independence again for a long time or perhaps, never again. Those who wove dreams of Catalonia’s independence can prepare the stories they will tell their children or grandchildren about how close they were to become a country and how their political leaders acted. Today, based on what it considers to be Spain´s best interests, this matter should be closed and those who created the political chaos will sooner or later sink into oblivion, except for Carles Puigdemont, of course, whose name will always be remembered in Spain’s history, not as other like Cervantes, Goya or Gaudí, but as the man who threw the stone and hid his hand.

This article was originally published in the digital newspaper World And Opinion.

Copyright 2017 All rights are reserved.

Photo: By courtesy of Convergencia Democratic under the criteria of Creative Commons (Flickr).

From dream to freedom (part 2)

November 5, 2017

By Eddy Montilla

(Taken from Real stories told as fiction)

“I wanted to be an unpretentious writer or a good journalist.” He said in hushed tones. Today, I do not even write a letter of the alphabet, but numbers: How many lunch boxes I have prepared and how many boxes more are waiting for me until I can finally go to my room to take a rest for the next day because it’s not letters, but figures what ensure my subsistence: Less than 15 lunch boxes made, and my salary, already a pittance, is reduced; less than 10 and I will lose this job, the bane of my life, my Sysiphus masquerading as a saviour.

Victor continued thinking about his life and took without noticing his numb hands off the table with rotating movement that put in front of his eyes in small intervals the plastic containers and the different foods he had to package. The lunch boxes to be prepared every day were so many that he did not even look at the ten numbers outlining the steps to be taken. His work had become an almost daily routine and so had his life. A tear that never flew from his eyes for being deemed as a sign of imminent defeat (or perhaps for his deep pride of man) could be seen last week when he was tidying things up in his narrow room and made with his hands the same numbered steps he usually takes at work to put the food into the boxes: Automation has reached its zenith and his soul too.

He took a deep breath and repeated the same thing: “I just wanted to be an unpretentious writer or at least a good journalist. That’s all I wanted to be.” He said while he gently touched and counted each of his calluses on the right hand with his left index finger and did not have to do the same action with the other callused hand just by doubling the number.

“De nan blosadi drepensus togoshi”? (Why on earth have you stopped working?)” His boss asked with a face that looked like a chained bulldog.

Victor began to tremble in fear for the question and to sweat for another reason. It was no wonder since he could never find any trace of human sensitivity in this man’s face or words. In fact, the only visible aspect was his voracious appetite for money and banality, clearly reflected on the very expensive and impeccable way he always dressed, on his continuous gestures whenever he tidied up his suit and, above all, on the way he watched all his workers from his well heated in winter and air-conditioned in summer office, a place he never left except for rebuking or firing someone.

“Sorry, sir. You are telling me to keep working, right?” Victor said, trying to guess in his boss’s face what he could not understand from his words. Victor did not think anything until his boss went back to his office, but this time with his hands on the table.

When the absurd becomes normal, you have to make radical changes or accept your failure. And what could be more absurd than a place where you can stop thinking, but never stop moving your hands? My ten fingers, my two hands are the only things of value to this man. (TO BE CONTINUED…)

Copyright 2017 All rights are reserved.

Jesus’s ideas (3): about pain and suffering

November 3, 2017

By Eddy Montilla


My elder brother fought with his classmates and other children of our neighborhood at times, many of them bigger and stronger than him. He came home with some bruises, but happier to show his “bravery”. The funny part is that he rarely went to the dentist: He was afraid of the needle and syringe. Another story. A Japanese student told me once that she wanted her parents to die free form pain. In both cases, the idea is the same: Regardless of nationality or creed, pain and suffering seem to be the biggest concern for people.

Examples come to our lives to learn from them and Jesus had a lot of examples and experience about suffering: From his mother’s wombs, he had to flee to escape death. He was born in a stable with animals and their faeces (even though this part it is not mentioned in the Bible, as far as I know, a stable is not characterized by its good smell). Besides, he was despised and misunderstood, tortured and killed, then, who could teach us better what pain is?

1. Tribulations are ordeals with rewards: Pain and suffering temper your spirit and thoughts. They give the experience that will make you stronger and wiser. If you are going through difficult times, remember that sooner or later a reward for you will surely come. Sometimes, people cannot understand or believe that because tribulations make them see only one side of the wall, the closest one: The pain they feel. Therefore, the pain does not let them see the other part behind the fence: What they will get at the end. But your pain and suffering will never go without reward. Think about the life of other people who have suffered like you or more than you: Nelson Mandela and his unjustifiable 27 long years in prison, Louis Braille, blind since he was 5 years old or John Paul II, carrying on his shoulders the burden of many years living with Parkinson’s disease. And now think about what they got at the end, their rewards: Thanks to Mandela, freedom and its value became something real rather than hope in his country and many other places in Africa. With Braille, the tactile writing system used by people who are visually impaired was born and John Paul II was one of the most tireless messengers of peace that the world has seen in many decades. As for Jesus, you know already what happened: He was whipped and killed, but changed the world to a point that today we say BC and AD.

2. You are not alone in your dismal path and suffering: In a greater or less degree, we all suffer. The good thing is you are not alone not even when nobody is at our side because you will always find comfort and strength in those who also suffered in the past as you do now and overcame tribulations as you will do.

3. Pain and suffering open your door to great happiness at the end: Everybody receives something in life based upon his or her strengths and abilities. When we are right in the middle of the tunnel of our adversities and afflictions and the only light we see comes from those who seem to suffer nothing, we frequently ask ourselves: “Why me?” The answer is that you are stronger than them and if God put the same test on their shoulders, they would break into many pieces. Then, I cannot ask you to “be happy” with your adversities, but to see them from another perspective since they mean you are strong and because you are, overcome all your problems and after that, help others in their tribulations, those who are not as strong as you are. And, if you experience moments of hesitation, loss of strength and faith, charge your battery by reading what Jesus said: “Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

This article was originally published in the digital newspaper World And Opinion.

Copyright 2017 All rights are reserved.

THE UNITED STATES, where each mass shooting welcomes another and worse one

October 9, 2017

By Eddy Montilla

To own a gun is in the United States like the Super Bowl, that is, part of the country’s culture. There is, however, a significant difference between them: The second one brings joy; the first one brings pain and death. It is said that the almost inseparable Americans’ characteristic that fuels many people’s burning desire to possess a weapon has its origin in the arrival of European immigrants who felt the absence of State authority and opted to defend themselves. What those settlers never imagined was that firearms would turn into mass lethal weapons someday, able to be bought at a department store as if it were a household item.

But many years has passed since those settlers arrived at the United States, so if the problem about firearm-related deaths has not been solved yet, it is the present generation that should be held to account. From the American government to citizens, both sectors have failed in their attempt to reduce deaths from mass shootings. The millionaire, compulsive gambler, real estate investor and today “famous” mass shooter Stephen Paddock unveiled the fact that mass shootings in USA are close to become an uncontrollable situation. Paddock’s actions left 58 people dead and hundreds injured, a tragedy telling us that something worse is coming considering how easy it is for citizens to get more and more sophisticated and lethal weapons.

The sale of weapons has been a lucrative business inside and outside the country. Consequently, it is not necessary to explain how this killer could buy an alarming arsenal of weapons, 23 guns, including semiautomatic rifles, scopes and hundreds of rounds of ammunition and how he could fire at a rate of 400 rounds per minute over into a crowd from about 400 yards (365.76 meters) away. The main restriction that an American has to buy a firearm is imposed by himself or herself, that is, how much money he or she has for that. But, how many guns does a person need to protect his or her family? Why does a person need a gun if police officers are paid to protect citizens?

During the last decade, USA has seen more than 200 mass shootings. It is not the large amount of time dealing with the same problem, but the way it is being seen and faced today what people should worry about. Today people cry, talk and weeks later forget everything. Stephen Paddock’s lethal attack on a Las Vegas country music festival is not one more to be added to the long list that already exists. It is the prelude to what is to come: Something worse. Intervals between a mass shooting and another are getting smaller and the attacks are deadlier. Since 2010, it has not passed a year without more than 10 people killed in a mass shooting (except for 2014) and since 2015, the last killer wants to kill more people than the previous one did.

As in earlier instances, after each mass shooting, people talk about it, mass media get news, the president delivers a speech and, after several weeks, the society and government will continue with their registered trademark expression: “We have to move forward”, which means people will forget Paddock’s case as they did with others mass shootings until another sadistic or sick shooter brings a new record. Since a shooter’s hunger for blood is fed by the largest number of victims killed before, then, if the problem is not resolved, to see more that 58 people killed, that is a new record, it is just a matter of time.

This article was originally published in the digital newspaper World And Opinion.

Copyright 2017 All rights are reserved.

The Dominican Republic: With bright sun and politicians made of wax

September 23, 2017

By Eddy Montilla

Since the 1960s, the Dominican Republic has seen a lot of people giving orders from the Government, but it has had only three political leaders. The first one José Francisco Peña Gómez, a man whose personality was filled with kindness almost verging on weakness. The second one was Juan Bosh, a great theorist and visionary at the forefront of his contemporaries, and that’s why he was misunderstood and underestimated. The third one was more practical than the others and gained, therefore, more power. But even in politics, even the righteous end up as rotten as an apple. That happened to Joaquín Balaguer who went from a servant of dictator (Trujillo Molina) to
a dictator disguised as president.

Those three politicians, despite their mistakes, in contrast to the new generation of politicians who rule inside and outside the Dominican government, showed total indifference for money to use it for personal gain. Today, the clamour of the Dominican people, asking for real anticorruption actions, can be heard everywhere in the island, which is shown by the numerous forms of protests they frequently use to demand the end of impunity. More than ever, Dominican politicians dance with corruption. The most recent example is Odebrecht corruption case, a massive web of corruption found in more than half of the countries in Latin America based on financing politicians’ political campaign expenses first to get works contracts later. It is said that Odebrecht, the largest construction company in Brazil paid 92 million dollars in bribe for the works contracts. As a token of gratitude or as a new way of extortion, parties with women included were offered. When I compare actual politicians with those the island had in the past, the first question that comes is where did the country fail?

The Dominican Republic has had a thriving economy for almost two decades, but because of corruption, misuse and mismanagement of resources, millions of people live in poverty. The Caribbean country needs a radical change of generation of politicians, something that will not happen without great efforts since those who lead the country (whether inside or outside the government) are unwilling to cede power, those who melt when they are heated by the word honesty. With their different protests, the Dominican people have undoubtedly taken a step forward, the first one. Now, for the good of the country, people should go free of fear for the second one: New leaders for new times.

This article was originally published in the digital newspaper World And Opinion.

Copyright 2017 All rights are reserved.