Becoming Cuenca

The Report to the Nation (Including Cuenca)

May 25, 2024

Journalists can be some of the most jaded people on earth. Not making excuses, but we have seen it all. Or I should say that we have experienced the news and the world more than the typical person.

I have been part of one-on-one interviews with people like Bill Clinton and George H. Bush. As a resident of North Carolina for over 37 years, I have been around all of the movers and shakers, including Jesse Helms, James B. Hunt, James G. Martin, and William Friday. And of course, I have been with Andy Griffith, Jane Fonda, and Jimmy Buffet among others in the entertainment industry.

This post is not to name-drop, but to show you that because I have been around some of the most powerful people, I am not easily impressed. It is to show you that it takes more than a big name to make an impression on me.

Though I have never met the man, President Daniel Noboa Azín has impressed me immensely. For many expats in Cuenca, he has done the same to them.

This 36-year-old president (Born: November 30, 1987) has an impressive curriculum vitae: a degree in business administration in 2010 from New York University Stern School of Business, a Master of Business Administration from Northwestern University Kellogg School of Management, and a master’s degree in Political Communication and Strategic Governance from George Washington University. Noboa also studied at Harvard University.

Seven days before his 36th birthday, Noboa became the President of Ecuador.

A lot has happened since he took office, including the infamous January 9th, which I have talked about in previous posts.

This bright young man stared down threats and adversity to address the illegal drug trade, corruption, and the financial bind previous presidents got this country into.

On May 24th, President Daniel Noboa Azín gave The Report to the Nation (“Informe a la Nación 2024”). It lasted about 27 minutes, before about 600 guests in the plenary hall of the National Assembly.  The speech was supported by short videos to complement his presentation.

Using my sources, I was able to find his speech online. It has been translated as best as possible for you to see what I am talking about and to have a good idea of Noboa’s vision for the future of Ecuador.

What he talks about greatly impacts Cuenca. It is why I have made this special post for all to know more about what is happening in Ecuador.

All photos in this post from May 24th are from the X (formerly Twitter) account for la Presidencia de la República del Ecuador. They include President Noboa in the crowd of thousands of people, commemorating this country’s 202nd birthday. The last photo was taken by me.

Informe a la Nación 2024

The first time I spoke from this position to the country, I was very sincere and clear when I said that we were receiving a country immersed in a deep crisis. Ecuadorians lived in constant fear, without hope for the future and without a clear direction in which to go. In these 6 months we had to make hard and profound decisions that no one had risked making before, but that were necessary to begin to transform the country towards a New Ecuador.

During this time, you have all witnessed the tireless effort that has gone into beginning to transform our nation. We have promoted legislative reforms, most of them with your support, although some have forgotten and are not here, we are sure that they are watching from their homes.

We have also applied security measures with determination. Our goal has been to start building a country where tranquility and progress are the norm and not the exception. To achieve progress, the best way is to do it together and work tirelessly until you achieve it.

Today we are here to be accountable to those who really have the power: our citizens. Citizens are the only witnesses to each of our actions. These decisions are aligned with the National Development Plan 2024-2025, which marks the roadmap for the transformation of the country we are building: a safe country, open to investment, the creation of jobs and, above all, to guarantee the future of all.

January 9, 2024 is a date that the country will never be able to forget.

It was the afternoon where, as Ecuadorians, we experienced the extent of the horror that terrorism had in our country. And today, after various information and having dematerialized certain devices, we see that there was even an attempted coup d’état.

As its ruler, he had two options: business as usual, doing nothing; or, act and act like no one else had done before. There was no room for lukewarmness and after five months the determination and frontality have paid off.

And here I want to take a moment to pay well-deserved recognition to the military and police, who throughout this time came out, willing to defend our families, our freedom, and our Homeland. I ask you for a loud standing ovation in gratitude for the true heroes of Ecuador. Today we are here because they are in the streets for us.

The commitment and sacrifice of deciding for the first time to confront the mafias has been enormous. Well, they have accomplices and allies, at all levels of the country: public institutions, in public companies, in local governments, in our neighborhoods, they are everywhere. The attempts, internal and external, to discredit the struggle will not intimidate us. On the contrary, the truth is on our side; and the truth always comes to light.

During these six months we have seen every person who attacks us, every person who tries to unbalance us or tries to destabilize the government, ends up being guilty. Everything comes to light.

Today with a firm step, the State is being cleaned, with a firm step the leaders are falling, with a firm step the narco-terrorist groups are disintegrating, with a firm step they are the ones who are afraid to leave and not us anymore.

This fight is not over. The fight for the New Ecuador has only begun.

Always remembering that we do not only fight insecurity with bullets, but with social work, serving those who need us most.

Social transformation and security are also provided with employment, education, services, and empathy. We have to combine the two things: combine strength and firmness with empathy with our Ecuadorian brothers.

Therefore, despite the catastrophic dimensions in which we find the State’s finances, we were not going to abandon the Ecuadorians, and we fulfilled social development.

Not only do we comply, but we improve the living conditions of Ecuadorians, especially those who were forgotten for decades.

In New Ecuador, no one is abandoned. Neither to older adults, nor to young people, nor to mothers. To nobody.

We improve equitable and timely access to education, employment, entrepreneurship, housing, technology, culture, and recreation; In short, to a dignified, quality life.

And this is the face of a New Ecuador that is growing.

In New Ecuador we not only build bridges, but we connect families.

In New Ecuador we not only maintain roads, but we strengthen trade and business.

In New Ecuador we are not only lowering the levels of energy deficit, but we are working very hard to solve the energy crisis, so that Ecuadorians, in the future, do not have to go through energy rationing anymore. In other words, we are cleaning up after those of the past.

Despite the debt, the sabotage and all the obstacles we encountered along the way, we were never going to stop.

Because if we stop, Ecuador stops. And if something characterizes this Government, it is that we find solutions and resolve. Because we have two options: talk about big excuses or manage big solutions. And this is a government that is betting on the second:

 

-105,000 youth employment places

-2 trade agreements ratified and 2 in progress

-6,358 land titles, 1,285 housing titles

-Reduction of 1,000 points in country risk.

 

And so, I could continue giving figures all day. But in New Ecuador, economic successes are not reduced to a number. If not to the impact that has been generated in the lives of Ecuadorians.

Because we could talk about the success of approving 5 urgent economic laws, the law of economic efficiency and employment generation, the law of energy competitiveness, the law of asset forfeiture, the Tourism law and the law to confront the internal armed conflict, social and economic crisis, but we prefer to talk about the stories and destinies that we are changing.

I know that it is difficult for some to understand what the New Ecuador is. But I will summarize them in one sentence: we recover the institutionality of the country.

Let’s remember one thing: we are not the majority, the majority is outside. The majority supports, the majority believes that we can be better and the majority walks with me as they walked this morning.

The New Ecuador does not deal with drug trafficking, it does not deal with narcopolitics, it does not deal with terrorists or any of their historical disguises. The New Ecuador also does not give in to external pressures or even from citizens who call themselves Ecuadorians and even want their country to be sentenced. Now time proves us right and will continue to prove it to us.

No matter how difficult it may be, and despite all the attacks that this generates, we will not compromise against the security and justice of the Ecuadorian State.

The New Ecuador does not seek an image at the expense of inflated and overpriced contracts, but rather solves it by thinking first about the well-being of Ecuadorians and taking care of public finances.

The promise I make today to all of you who are part of this New Ecuador is not to go back. It is never to stay in the problem or in the comfort of the excuse, we are committed to finding and traveling clean paths that allow us to solve the problems of Ecuadorians. Because this New Ecuador resolves with honesty, with will and also with creativity. We govern by following the lessons that formed us as a generation: be strong so that no one defeats you, be noble so that no one humiliates you, be humble so that no one offends you and continue being you so that no one forgets you.

In New Ecuador it is resolved and in just 6 months: let us remember that this is the first report to the nation that is usually only for one year. In just 6 months we are achieving what other governments did not do in two, nor in four, nor in 10 years, with the same officials from the other institutions, in the past periods. And that has been the big difference. The ones who changed were us.

The country we have today is very different from the one we found 6 months ago. We can feel it and that is our main legacy, one that we still continue to build alongside every Ecuadorian. Our legacy is and will always be to protect and fight for the dignity of each one of us, of each one of the Ecuadorians, hand in hand.

The support of the people, as we had in the last popular consultation, is essential. Well, all this can be erased in a second and Ecuador returns to its past of violence governed by organized crime and mafias entrenched in political power.

I am part of a new generation and a new way of doing politics that makes its way by breaking the schemes, breaking the patterns of traditional politics, which I am sure that with the support of the Ecuadorian people will only be a bad memory of the past.

We make our own the words of Leo Tolstoy: “There is no greatness where simplicity, goodness and truth are lacking.”

On this day, 202 years ago, brave soldiers fought alongside sister nations to give us freedom and independence.

On a day like today, brave Ecuadorian soldiers and police fight every day to preserve that same freedom.

The fight for freedom continues: for the freedom to go out into the streets without fear and the dream of a prosperous nation with jobs for young people and for everyone.

A day like today with the unity that gives us the determination of this fight, we will be able to say like on May 24, 1822, We will win! Long live Ecuador!

A lot more information on life in Cuenca can be found in my book, “Una Nueva Vida – A New Life.” Some say it is the most thorough book out there concerning moving to and living in this beautiful city.

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And please! Have several reliable sources of information before making any decision about moving to Cuenca.

Reliable information must come from dependable sources. According to the University of Georgia Libraries, a reliable source will provide a “thorough, well-reasoned theory, argument, etc. based on strong evidence.”

I consider myself a trusted source with my “strong evidence,” but you definitely need more than me for your big resettlement.

Salud, mi amigo.

 

Una Nueva Vida – A New Life

- by Stephen Vargha

There are over 80 professional-quality photos shot by me to give you a clear ‘picture’ about life in this historic mountain city.