People of my generation remember well the 1967 coming of age film, “The Graduate.” In the opening scene, a confused, wide-eyed young man, just returning home after finishing his university studies, is offered advice about his future by a middle-aged friend of his parents in a much-quoted exchange:
MR. MCGUIRE: I want to say one word to you. Just one word.
BENJAMIN: Yes, sir.
In the latter part of February 1535, a caravel carrying Fray Tomas de Berlanga, bishop of Panama, enroute to Peru, drifted off course in the Pacific Ocean amid the equatorial doldrums, disappearing wind, and strong currents to an unknown and strange land. In his report to Charles V, King of Spain, who had mandated him to journey to settle disputes in his new empire, he described the nature of the shore in vivid detail:
With the arrival of Halloween, a celebration observed in several countries on October 31st, I am celebrating my birthday and moving well into my early sixties. Birthdays are usually the time of the year when I tend to pause and look back to all that happened in the prior months while looking ahead with new ideas, commitments, and resolutions. In a true sense, this is my real “new year” rather than at the beginning of the year in January.
The recent social unrest in Ecuador brought to world attention the often ignored and marginalized indigenous peoples that led the opposition to economic reform proposals advanced by the Government. While the unrest ended after some of the proposals were rescinded following a public dialogue between the Government and the leaders of the indigenous movement, deep-seated grievances remain that need to be addressed to improve the social conditions of indigenous peoples.