Guayaquil, the image of tragedy

Ecuador has positioned itself among the countries with bleak prospects in the fight against Covid-19. In early March 2021, the country recorded 299,216 confirmed cases and 11,403 deaths, according to data from the Ecuadorian Ministry of Public Health, an institution that throughout the health emergency did not reflect credibility in its figures, unlike glaring realities such as an overloading of the health system with disastrous consequences on almost the entire national territory.

Going back to the start of the pandemic – exactly one year ago – the dramatic scenes of corpses piled up in hospital rooms, in refrigerated containers, inside homes and on the sidewalks of the city of Guayaquil have been the highlight. most visible part of the devastating effects of the pandemic in Ecuador in the eyes of Worldwide. However, the new coronavirus puts on the table a series of antecedents to reflect on: the historic role of the state, the political configuration and the inequalities and poverty that have systematically persisted in this country.

The province of Guayas and its capital, the city of Guayaquil, one of the most important and densely populated cities in the country to be an economic stronghold due to its port, was home to nearly 68% of the total number of confirmed cases in the countries during the first months of the Covid-19 health crisis.

This was not only due to the delay in the implementation of preventive measures after the first recorded case, but also to the social composition of the province of Guayas, from which are disaggregated the political and economic dynamics that we will explain. in relation to the crisis. state and democracy, applied to the Ecuadorian case.

Following Norbert Lechner in his work “Politics is no longer what it used to be”, the market dynamics that prevail in our Latin American societies translate into an imperative of economic efficiency on the part of the States, leaving the second – or last – priority to “social integration”, that is to say, leaving the many social needs and inequalities on the fringes of public policies, to the detriment of economic performance. Of course, this also has a lot to do with see with the political will and interests at stake at every critical moment.

The above could have its materialization both in Guayaquil, as well as throughout Ecuador. Considering the economically privileged situation of Guayas Province, as one of the main ports in the Pacific, wealth has been generated over the decades for the commercial and export sectors, but at the same time its correlate has germinated in peripheral communities living in extreme poverty. . Economic inequalities led to a crisis in political representation, which worked to the benefit of a few influential groups – the elites.

Here, public health services – as well as education and housing – have historically been approached in dissonance with realities, ultimately causing a precariousness of these services and their consequent overflow in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic.

On the other hand, before the health crisis, the social conditions of Guayaquil reflect a political crisis channeled by financial inequalities, which, if not corrected in these contexts, could lead to a worsening of the social crisis and , in the long run, to a state crisis.

As a historical coda, Guayaquil attempted to become independent from Ecuador due to its status as a port, the political influence, and the economic benefits that all entail. This report, surprising as it is, still prevails under the idea of ​​“independent Guayaquil”, often used as a slogan during political and festive gatherings in the city. Find out more (08/08/2021 – 09:27)

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