Ecuadorian Gold & Mexican Kitsch
Pascale Harter presents reflections from writers worldwide with Leo Johnson, who introduces us to the politics of mining in Ecuador. We meet Fabian, a 39 year old miner working in a gold mine from 14 years of age. Johnson manages to fill just one 30kg bag of ore, while Fabian has filled 50 bags a day for the last 25 years. But the real issue for Fabian is the competition from foreign mining companies that have been given concessions by the Ecuadorian government to mine the precious local metals. Ecuador is sitting on $200 billion worth of these metals and the dilemma facing President Rafael Correa is whether to allow the foreign companies to compete for them against smaller- scale local mining operations without the same means.
And then from Mexico City, Olaf Furniss takes us to the former home (grandly nicknamed the Partenon) of former police chief Arturo 'El Negro' Durazo, with its mirrored ceilings, bed suspended above the floor with chains and kitschy frescos depicting scenes from Greek mythology. It's now a tourist trap for those who want to marvel at the extent of the corruption that has pervaded Mexico for decades.