Ecuador and Democracy


Briefly, democracy is a matter of degree and quality. Confusion often
arises in discussion about democracy. This stems from the different premises
people have in mind when they use the term. In my opinion, most people fail to
specify their underlying premises, and we often incorporate into our sense of
democracy disparate factors that may or may not relate to it. To avoid such
confusion, we must identify the key ideas central to democracy and clarify
precisely how the term will be used. The best way to study democracy is to
learn the other countries, so in this time I choose one of Latin American
countries, Ecuador for well-understanding of the process of democracy.
Ecuador is graphically one of the world\'s most varied countries despite
its small size, which at 283520 sq. km is about the size of either New Zealand
or Nevada State. Ecuador staddles the equator on the Pacific coast of South
America and is bordered by only two countries, Colombia to the north and Peru to
the south and east.
The estimated population of Ecuador in 1991 was 10,800,00. This is
approximately 10 times the number of Indian estimated to have been living in the
area at the time of the Spanish conquest. The population density of about 38
people per sq. km is the highest of any South American nation.
Like other Latin American countries, the major religion is Roman
Catholicism. Some of the older cities have splendid 16th and 17th-century
Catholic churches. Although churches of other faiths can found, they form only
a very small minority. The Indians, while outwardly Roman Catholic, tend to
blend Catholicism with their traditional beliefs. In Ecuador, Spanish is the
main language. Most Indians are bilingual, with Quechua being their preferred
language and Spanish their second tongue.
Ecuador, that is the smallest of the Andean countries, is a republic
with a democratic government headed by a president. The first constitution was
written in 1830, but has had several changes since then, the most recent in 1978.
Democratically elected governments have regularly been toppled by coups, often
led by the military. Since 1979, however, all governments have been freely
elected. All literate citizens over 18 have the vote and the president must
receive over 50% of the vote to be elected. With at least 13 different
political parties, 50% of the vote is rarely achieved, in which case there is a
second round between the top two contenders. A president governs for a maximum
of five years and cannot be reelected.
The recent elections were in 1988, with 10 candidates running for
president. In the first round, held in January, Rodrigo Borja and Abdala
Bucaram achieved 24.1% and 17.6% of the votes. In the August runoff, Borja of
the Izquierda Democratica (Democratic Left) received a 52% majority and was
elected.
The president is also the head of the armed forces and appoints his own
cabinet ministers. There are 12 ministries forming the executive branch of the
government. The legislative branch of government consists of a single Chamber
of Representatives (congress) which has 69 members. The congress appoints the
justices of the Supreme Court. There are 21 provinces, each with a governor
appointed by the president and democratically elected prefects. The provinces
are sub-divided into smaller political units called cantones; each canton has a
democratically elected alcalde (mayor).
Most histories of Ecuador begin with the expansion of the Incas from
Peru in the 1400s, although archaeological evidence indicates the presence of
people in Ecuador for many thousands of years before then. The history of pre-
Inca Ecuador is lost in a tangle of time and legend. Generally speaking, the
main populations lived either on the coast or in the highland.
At the time of the Inca expansion the Duchicela descendants still
dominated the north, and the south was in the hands of the Canari people. The
Canari defended themselves against the Inca invaders, and it was some years
before the Inca, TupacYupanqui, was able to subdue them and turn his attention
to the north. During he fathered a son, Huayana Capac, by a Canari princess.
The subjugation of the north took many years and Huayana Capac grew up in
Ecuador. He succeeded his father to the Inca throne and spent years traveling
all over his empire, from Bolivia to Ecuador, constantly putting down uprisings
from all sides.
The year 1526 is a major one in Ecuadorian history. The Inca Huayna
Capac died and left his empire, not to one son as was traditional, but to two,
thus dividing the Inca Empire for the first time. In the same year, on 21
September, the first Spaniards landed near Esmeraldas