Overwhelming Change: “Nothing Can Stop Us Now!”

My eyes filled with tears the first time I saw the video of NEE-01 PEGASO – Ecuador’s first space satellite – playing the Ecuadorian National Anthem in space. The images of the Earth from 900 km above gained a new profound meaning as the notes struck a melancholic chord in me, taking me back to the early years of elementary school, when we’d stand in line every Monday morning, singing along to that fantastic tune booming behind the poles where flags waved.

But it wasn’t necessarily the memories that moved me, particularly because back then I didn’t notice any of that. It was an overwhelming realization that the mess of a country I left behind almost 15 years ago to never look back has advanced in ways I never thought possible.

Since President Rafael Correa was first elected in 2006, the nation has taken great strides forward, most notably reclaiming political stability in a country that had seen 10 presidents thrown out in explosive popular revolts in less than a decade. The rates of reduction of poverty (one of the best in the region) has also been a major cornerstone of the so-called Christian Socialism the government has identified itself with. But that was expected…at least by me. The government is doing precisely what its mandate is, and needs no more accolades than knowing it has the support of an overwhelming majority of the nation’s population (If I recall correctly, Correa just won the election with over 65% of the votes). That’s not to say that it’s perfect, but its mandate is not to be perfect; it is to pull a nation out of the seams of hell.

So when I saw the video of the satellite carrying that tri-colour flag through space, the magnitude of the transformation that the country has undergone was simply overwhelming. That, I had not expected. I was completely moved with pride. Pride of having been born in a country that, after all it went through – after being recognized internationally only for its corrupt leaders and indigent levels of poverty – had finally been blessed with a leader that had vision.


The Ecuadorian Civilian Space Agency (Agencia Espacial Civil Ecuatoriana (EXA)) is the “first space agency in the history of Ecuador,” and was founded in 2007 with the aid of the State through the Ecuadorian Air Force, according to its website. It is planned for 10 years and will see three ambitious phases implemented, including the first Ecuadorian astronaut in space, the first landing on the moon and the first satellite, the latter of which has been achieved.

Ronnie Nader is leading the program, and is Ecuador’s first astronaut, receiving his training in 2007 in the Russian Federation “on the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center…designed to train a scientist to perform research during short term suborbital space flight,” reads the website.

The EXA joined the International Astronautical Federation (IAF) in 2008 – “the world’s leading space advocacy body with 246 members…across 62 countries,” according to the IAF website. It also joined the Guinness World Record book for the “youngest human being ever to fly in microgravity, the RIM-G, a system allowing almost any person to fly micro-gravity without being sick, opening the door for thousands of Ecuadorians to the marvels of 0-(gravity) and to a new set of research opportunities.”

NEE-01 PEGASO, the satellite, which was launched from China on April 26, since Ecuador does not have a launching station, is tiny (1.2kg, 10x10x10cm), but was nevertheless able to transmit images and data from space for seven days, before it was hit by the debris of a Russian satellite on May 23.

It’s main mission is to study the environment in space in order to be able to build bigger and better satellites.


The idea that kids I grew up with and new generations could watch images of space delivered by their very own satellite, right at home, is astounding. Of course, many of them may have to go to public libraries, or the homes of kids who can afford computers and internet…but the possibilities are slowly emerging.

Ecuador is no longer a nation characterized by rampant corruption and poverty. Though the West may continue to denigrate Ecuador’s government, suggesting that it is authoritarian and a dictatorship, just as it does with other nations in full Revolutionary Motion, such as Venezuela and Cuba, to name a couple only, the undeniable jumps forward that this tiny Andean nation has made in the last seven years, is simply awe-inspiring.

People in Ecuador are seeing something they have not in a long time: the splendour of possibilities, and the results of having a government with integrity and genuine aspirations of progress.

…It was knowing all of this, that brought tears of utter pride and joy to my eyes…


(English translation at the bottom)

Por Pancho Arce Chiriboga

Ya… Este proyecto que nos ha levantado la esperanza, que nos ha ayudado a reconocernos con el resto de Hispanoamérica y a mirar altivos y muy de frente al mundo, que nos está edificando un país moderno y funcional encima de lo hermoso de nuestra geografía  y lo fascinante de nuestra diversidad étnica, va por al menos otros cuatro años… Nuestros candidatos triunfantes y amables nos han agradecido profusamente porque con nuestros votos es que ahora son victoriosos, pero aunque sean ellos personalmente vencedores en la contienda electoral, el triunfo es también de nosotros.

Nuestros compañeros que pronto asumirán la inmensa responsabilidad de continuar la  forja de la mejor sociedad que ahora vislumbramos, también han cumplido con la cortesía de agradecer a quienes ofrecimos mayores o pequeños aportes a sus campañas, y bien que así sea, pero en realidad, lo que todos hemos hecho no han sido favores personales a los candidatos, ha sido el cumplimiento de nuestra muy personal e ineludible responsabilidad en la medida en que nos ha sido posible en la construcción de esta nueva patria NUESTRA.

Es necesario que, a riesgo de herir susceptibilidades, hagámonos entender que si bien la obligación más notable es de aquellos compañeros que ocupan cargos públicos, ya sea por elección popular o por designación o por concurso, en parte porque perciben una remuneración, en otra parte porque asumimos que tienen más capacidad para el ejercicio de esas funciones, pero principalmente porque nos han hecho creer que sienten un compromiso con nosotros y con este proceso que respaldamos, la responsabilidad es tan nuestra como de ellos.

Entonces, cuando nos agradezcamos por las tareas cumplidas como deber, hagámoslo a nombre de los beneficiarios de nuestra humilde o gloriosa lucha, hagámoslo a nombre de la causa que nos anima, hagámoslo por el pueblo, por la patria, por la humanidad…

La única manifestación de gratitud indispensable y trascendental es entonces el cumplimiento sin excusas de ese compromiso, lo demás no pasa de ser cortesía elemental y en el peor de los casos un protocolo con muy poco de sinceridad. Hay quienes sin haber alzado la voz, ni proferido una palabra soez, ni tener a su haber un exabrupto en toda su vida, traicionan, hacen todo el mal que pueden y roban recursos y esperanzas.

Lo que les damos al dar nuestro voto no es un obsequio ni es un favor, les encomendamos con carácter de obligatorio, una tarea difícil, una lucha encarnizada, un maravilloso deber a nuestros compañeros para que nos ayuden a cambiar la historia, a crear un sistema justo, una sociedad feliz (¡Qué honroso privilegio!).

Gracias a ustedes también compañeros por asumir tan grande pero hermosa responsabilidad. Ahora, a romperse el alma por la patria (Léase, LA GENTE), y cuenten con que también nosotros cumpliremos con nuestro DEBER irrestrictamente desde nuestra familiar trinchera.


Gracias, Pancho, por esta hermosa redacción.

Hasta la Victoria Siempre!


Gratitude in Campaign-Time

Written by Pancho Arce Chiriboga

Translated by Fernando Arce

Alright…This trip which has thus far painted such a hopeful future for us, which has helped us re-identify ourselves with the rest of Hispanic-America while giving us the strength and dignity to face the world head-on, that is chiseling a modern and functional country with a beautiful geography and fantastic ethnic diversity to enrich it — this great trip is set to last at least another four years. Our triumphant and grateful candidates have thanked us deeply, for it was with our votes that their victory became possible. But even though the electoral race and political office is now theirs, the real victory is for all of us to share.

Our comrades — who are to assume the immense responsibility of deepening the forging of one of the best societies that we could have ever envisioned — have thanked all of those who’ve in any capacity helped the campaign. However the gesture, while certainly not unnecessary, remains beside the fact that our actions have not been personal favors for the candidates, but the righteous execution of personal and indelible responsibilities that link us to the task of constructing our new Country, in whatever capacity is possible.

At the risk of wounding susceptibilities, it is necessary to understand that if indeed the highest degree of responsibility rests on the shoulders of our comrades who now occupy public offices, be it through popular election, appointment, or lottery — partly due to their remuneration, partly because we assume they’re better equipped for such positions, but principally because they’ve managed to prove their commitment to us and to the process we represent — then the responsibility is as much ours as it is theirs.

Therefore, when we thank ourselves for the duties which we have properly carried out, let’s do it in the name of the benefactors of our humble and glorious fight; let’s do it in the name of the cause that ignites us; let’s do it for the People, for the Father-Land, for Humanity.

The only manifestation of that indispensable and transcendental gratitude can thus only be the unapologetic and dutiful execution of that commitment. Anything more than that can be chalked off as a fundamental courtesy; in the worst of cases, only an insincerely executed protocol, for there exist those that, without having ever raised their voice, ever uttered a profanity, or ever had an unhinged emotional outburst in their life, nevertheless betray, pillage and plunder all of our resources and hopes.

What we give them along with our vote is neither gift nor favor. We commend to them a difficult and obligatory task – a fierce and betrothed fight; a wonderful duty handed to those comrades that have agreed to help us change history and create a just system and a happy society…What an honorable privilege!

We thank you as well, dear comrades, for assuming such immense though beautiful responsibility. Now it is time for you to give your soul for the Father-Land (Read, LA GENTE). And you can continue to count on us  executing our DUTY, faithfully and unfettered from our ever so familiar trench.