Good evening ladies and gentlemen,
I am very excited to have you here to commemorate the TWO HUNDRED and SIXTH anniversary of Ecuador’s first cry for independence.
This is one of the greatest dates in Ecuadorian history. That August 10th of 1809, when a group of patriots formed the first Creole governing body of Latin America and dismissed the colonial authority to proclaim, what at the time, were truly revolutionary principles—that sovereignty does not lay on any king but on the people.
That first governing body only lasted about three months. The igniters of the independence movement were imprisoned, and a year later, on August Second of 1810, they were massacred along with hundreds of citizens of Quito. But as liberator Simón Bolívar said, “the Quito massacre sparked a deathly fight against Spanish colonialism”
Following the events in Quito, Ecuador went on to harvesting more victories for the freedom of our country, such as the independence of Guayaquil in October 9th of 1820, the Cuenca rebellion on November Third of the same year, and finally, May 24th of 1822, with the Battle of Pichincha, which consolidated the independence of modern Ecuador.
Caracas, Buenos Aires, Bogota, Mexico, and Santiago de Chile followed Quito’s example.
Our independence was a historic step towards the construction of national states in Latin America. However, many tasks are still pending. The history of people is not built in one day. It is a long process that may take decades and centuries. That is why today we are in what we call: the second independence.
An independence to free our people of the bondage from poverty and inequality. I don’t mean to proselyte but it must be said that Ecuador has changed.
It has changed in many ways, from the development of new infrastructure, to the creation of a knowledge-based economy, to transforming our energy matrix to relying on clean, renewable energy, to instituting new policies and initiatives to protect our uniquely bio-diverse habitat.
We practice a true Third Way that brings balance in between the inefficient statism of the so-called real socialism and the dehumanized neoliberalism that is triggered by the quest for money and power.
Our “Good Living” philosophy has helped to position Ecuador as a development model, and has served as a catalyst for modernizing and transforming our economy and institutions, building schools, roads, housing, acquiring new telecommunications systems, new ports and airports, and other needed infrastructure that creates jobs, raises the standards of living, promotes social justice, and very importantly, prepares us to compete globally.
Between 2007 and 2015, Ecuador has doubled its GDP and raised its GDP per capita by 50 percent. Poverty has declined from 37 percent to 25 percent; and extreme poverty from 17 percent to 8 percent. Unemployment has also been reduced from 5 to 3.8 percent. And the Ginni coefficient, which measures inequality worldwide, has dropped from .0551 to .0440, which means there has been a significant narrowing of the inequality gap, with the subsequent strengthening of the Ecuadorian middle class.
We are also improving our infrastructure and modernizing Ecuador’s energy matrix, with very clear objectives to produce 94 percent of our electricity from clean renewable sources by the end of 2016.
These efforts are in line with our constitutional commitment to protect the environment and ensure that future generations can enjoy the same unmatched biodiversity our territory has to offer to the Ecuadorian people and the thousands of travellers who visit our country every year.
Ecuador has embarked on an ambitious mission by building four mega universities, which play a fundamental role in the construction of a national innovation system.
With the United States, as our most important trade partner, we share many values and principles such as democracy, the fight against terrorism and drug trafficking, and the permanent quest for peace for our people, among other common interests.
We look forward to maintaining an honest and direct political dialogue and to continue building our commercial ties. Over the last decade, U.S. exports to Ecuador grew 14.4 percent, and Ecuador’s exports to the U.S. increased by 20 percent.
In recent years, our country has also gladly seen a steady increase in the number of American retirees who choose to retire in Ecuador. There are thousands of American citizens who have chosen to spend their golden years in our country for its rich culture, variety of climates and wonderful landscapes, but also for its surprisingly affordable cost of living and the state of the art infrastructure we are developing.
Last year alone, two hundred and sixty thousand Americans tourist visited Ecuador.
Please allow me to say a couple words for my fellow Ecuadorians present here this evening.
Aspiro a que esta celebración del 10 de agosto de 1809 nos recuerde los valores que compartimos como país: la tolerancia, el respeto, la solidaridad. Que seamos capaces de construir la unidad nacional para salir adelante, con discrepancias desde luego, pero manejándolas con tolerancia y respeto.
Tenemos desafíos muy grandes hacia el futuro que debemos enfrentar con el espíritu de rebeldía de nuestros héroes del 10 de agosto, pero también con la visión constructiva de los valores que esa revolución cultivó: la equidad, la justicia y el respeto hacia estas nuevas naciones criollas mestizas y a todos sus habitantes.
Nuestra diversidad es nuestro mayor tesoro, Diversidad en muchos sentidos, no solo la maravillosa biodiversidad, sino la étnica, cultural y geográfica. Somos una síntesis de Sudamérica.
Debemos sentirnos orgullosos de pertenecer a este pequeño país que fue la Luz de América en las luchas independentistas y ahora es también referente internacional de una nueva manera de enfrentar los desafíos del desarrollo, la justicia social, la equidad.
Gracias, Happy Independence Day – Y QUE VIVA EL ECUADOR!