Saturday, January 26, 2013

The President Comes To Town

Yesterday was a big day for Cotacacheños--President Raphael Correa came to town for a brief visit.
The president is the guy smiling almost in the center of the photo.  None of these pictures are great.  Unlike my friend, I was much further back in the crowd and was using my telephoto lens in the pitch dark with people surrounding me.  I'm just glad I got more than crowd shots.

I couldn't help but make comparisons between how things are here and how they are back in the States.  I know it's not all that unusual for a sitting president to go out on the campaign trail but I'm having trouble imaging him going to a town as small as Cotacachi.  Other than that, though, there were other things that made this visit unusual for me and a couple of things that just kind of surprised me when I learned about them.

  • His security people were dressed pretty much like everyone else in the crowd--jeans or casual slacks, shirt open at the neck, and a lightweight windbreaker or jacket. 
  • When I walked up to one of his security people to ask if that's what he was, he smiled and chatted with me for a few minutes.  I'm not quite sure what the Secret Service's reaction would have been to me saying something like, "Hi, are you part of the president's security detail?" but I'm guessing it wouldn't be quite as informal as this was.
  • There wasn't a single metal detector to be found.
  • A friend of mine was within 6 feet of the president with no barriers between them.
  • During the "warm up" part, before the president arrived, a fellow asked the crowd to please be respectful and quiet while the president was speaking--everyone was.
  • The president stepped down from the presidency for one month and his vice president is the acting president while Raphael (he prefers that to "Mr. President" or President Correa") is campaigning.  If he didn't do that, he wouldn't be allowed to campaign--it's not part of his job description.
  • None of the candidates are allowed to campaign more than the 30 days before the election.
So, those were a few of the things that were different than I would expect them in the States.

Now, on with the photos!
Of course there were kids in abundance.  They were playing in the park while they awaited the president's arrival.  Oh, did I mention he was a little over four hours late?  Yep, he was.  No, no one seemed to notice.

There was also food to be had.  Here the two main vendors are passing one another to set up somewhere they both seem to think will be better for them.  There was also the regular woman on the street corner who grills meat and vegetables on skewers as well as corn on the cob.

Babies abounded in their traditional mode of being carried around.  Most of them slept like, well, babies while people made a great deal of noise around them.

This little guy looked like he was about ready for bed.  I just love how adorable they are with those serious little faces.

Ah, the crowd is getting larger.

The little guy below was perched up on this "garden sculpture" for the longest time, waving his giant campaign flag.

Another cutie.

Ah, at last, the president has arrived amidst balloons and confetti.

The large campaign poster shows him in has formal attire and of course that's him talking to the crowd.

And so I headed home before he was finished speaking. I don't know how much longer I could have stood up.  I'd been there for about four hours--I don't do well standing for long periods of time.  Of course the other reason was that he was speaking in Spanish and, while my Spanish improves daily, it's not yet good enough to have understood what he was saying.

The party continued on for a couple of hours. I fell asleep listening to people laughing, talking, singing, and generally having a good time.

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