Papers Please

 

In many ways I came to Ecuador to escape the overbearing state.  There is no shortage of examples of tyrannical government action in the US.  It seems these days you need a permit to breathe in the land of the free.

 

No refusal blood-draw DUI checkpoints, laws forbidding collecting rainwater, taxes based on the amount of rain your property receives, laws about the breed of pig you can raise, laws banning raw milk, vaccines becoming more and more difficult to avoid, more restrictive banking laws, taxes on overseas income, mandatory healthcare, militarized police, laws regulating how you can rent out your home, the list goes on and on – it seems the US Government wont rest until they control every last aspect of our lives.  Europe is much the same, in many ways worse.

 

When I moved to Ecuador, I was looking for a low population density, to be away from fault lines, volcanoes and nuclear energy facilities, a place with a year round growing season, lots of pure water, fertile soil, and perhaps most of all, a less overbearing government.

 

In many ways Ecuador has been a dream come true.  And in one way in particular it has not.

 

In this essay I shall focus on the ways in which Ecuador has disappointed. 

 

Although I knew the plan for more and more restrictive government was a global one, what I have seen take place since arriving in Ecuador on July 31st, 2013, has allowed me to confirm with my eyes what my research had already revealed – global tyranny is fast approaching, if it has not arrived already.

 

And unfortunately, these observations hold true for all of Latin America and in fact, the world.

 

In the nearly three years I have been in Ecuador the change has been dramatic.  The charismatic, once popular, socialist president has overseen a huge transformation.

 

And there have been many positive changes.  Ecuador now boasts world class infrastructure, including; ports, airports, highways, Internet, basic services and utilities. 

 

However, the grip of government has also increased dramatically, and they are throwing their weight around.

 

New taxes of all kinds, have made doing business here more and more difficult. Capital has fled, businesses have closed and the state has grown. 

 

In Loja, where I live, police presence has seemingly tripled since my arrival.  Checkpoints, where they do the Ecuadorian equivalent of ‘papers please’ are commonplace.  New task forces and taxes of all kinds.  Property taxes have increased many fold.  You now need government permission and a license to do nearly anything.  And of course they take a cut of everything.  All accompanied by the age-old socialist cry of helping the people.

 

Recently raised to 14%, the national value added tax is just one of many examples of a country crippled by government intervention. 

 

Life is becoming more controlled and more difficult.  And people are fed up with it.  The once highly popular presidents approval rating now sits around 30%.

 

Just today at the open-air market where I do my weekly food shopping, I saw two Municipal Agents going around to collect fees from all the vendors – with two armed Municipal Police in tow, just in case any of the old ladies selling the fruits of their labor objected to giving the local mafia chieftain a cut.

 

Property and inheritance taxes are forcing people off their land.  Restrictions on where and how you can transport and slaughter your animals, licensing for producing milk and cheese, new building codes, huge taxes on any type of real estate development, restrictions on land use, have all made anything you do here more difficult and more costly. 

 

And the state continues to grow.

 

Some of you reading this may ask why am I still here?  Why do I have my life and my business in Ecuador?  Why not look for greener pastures?

 

That is the problem.

 

There aren't any.  This is a global phenomenon.  It is taking place in every South and Central American country.  The difference is, these places had a lot catching up to do to when compared to their North American and European counterparts, where so many aspects of society are already so heavily taxed and regulated.

 

So there is nowhere to go, I’ve looked.

 

And on every other front Ecuador is nearly perfect.  I love living here.  The natural beauty, people, climate, diversity of region, simplicity and quality of life, as well as the standard and cost of living available are remarkable.  I LOVE living here.

 

And even on the subject of government I find things workable.  Rules and regulations are less steadfast than in The States.  There are always ways to get things done.  Relationships go a long way in this familial society. 

 

In addition, people know what’s going on and they're not happy about it.  Change is underfoot.

 

Just like in Brazil, Argentina and Venezuela where the socialist tide has turned, as born out by recent political developments, that same process is clearly underway here in Ecuador

 

I think it’s important for people to be aware of the real Ecuador.  To have real information.  We strive to provide you with just that. 

 

So come, enjoy all the incredible things Ecuador has to offer.  I don’t know of a better place in the world to live.  But come with your eyes open.  And truth be told, if you’re someone who doesn’t mind the feeling of security a police presence provides or paying a few taxes, none of these things will bother you in the least.

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