Here, near the coast, peons get about $8 a month, but in the interior they do not receive over half this, and one-tenth of their earnings goes to the church. The planters give their laborers twelve ounces of meat, fourteen ounces of rice or beans, a little lard or salt, a day. Each also gets a hat, three coarse cotton shirts and three pairs of cotton pantaloons a year, and a house, such as I have described above.|
Their hours of work are from sunrise to sunset, and if a man skips a day this is charged to him. The women and children must work as well as the men, and if a man runs away he is straightaway put in prison for debt and stays there until some other planter is willing to pay him out and take him into his service.
Even should a man get out of debt, the conditions are such that he is soon in again... If he would get married, the priests will charge him $6 for performing the ceremony, and if he wants a hog or a donkey it is only by going into debt that he can get them...
Wages in Guayaquil and along the coast are much higher than in the interior. In the cities common workers get 75 cents a day; carpenters from $1.50 to $2; masons, painters and blacksmiths about the same, and men servants, employed by the month, from $10 to $12, with board. Tailors and shoemakers receive from $6 to $12 per week, and printers, bakers and barbers the same.
Living is in some respects very cheap, but as regards imported articles, exceedingly dear. I paid $1 a pound for canned meats, and a camp bed which I carry with me, which would be worth perhaps $3 at home, cost me in Guayaquil $8 of our money. Chairs, which could be bought for 50 cents at home, cost here $3. They come in pieces and are put together by the furniture dealers. All imported articles cost a vast deal more in the interior on account of the excessive freight rates, there being no means for transportation over the mountains except on mules or on the backs of men.
FROM BODEGAS TO QUITO
This town of Bodegas or Babahoyo is the half-way station on the road to Quito... It takes twenty-four Indians to carry a piano, and the cost of the freight is greater, by the time they reach Quito, than the cost of the piano itself. Thus ordinary packages of goods put up in bundles or boxes of 100 pounds each form a load for a mule, and such a load from here to Quito costs from $6 to $7...
I had intended to have made the journey to Quito, and bought a camping outfit at a cost of $55 to do it. Here, however, I am told that owing to the recent floods it will take at least ten days of mule riding through the mud and rain, and the Brazilian Minister, who has just come through from Quito, tells me that he had to wade part of the way through water up to his waist...
There is, in fact, only one good piece of road in all Ecuador. This is about seventy miles long, and it runs from Ambata on the plateau to Quito. There is an English stage coach which carries you over it, and takes you from one point to another in about a day and a half.
Ecuador also has about fifty-four miles of railroad. This is a narrow-gauge running from a station on the river Guyas, opposite Guayaquil, to Chimbo. The road has cars and locomotives which were made in Pennsylvania, and it was built by an American named Kelley. It is now owned by the government, and an American syndicate has, I am told, a concession to complete it to Quito, though the requisite capital, $12,000,000, has not yet been raised.
The road now runs to the foot of the Andes, and it is said by engineers that its completion is, without doubt, a mechanical possibility. As to whether it would pay or not is uncertain, as is also the question as to how far the government would contribute to its support.
FRANK G. CARPENTER.
The Federal Reserve Bank's estimated consumer price index shows that $1 in 1898 was equivalent to $24.60 in 2007.
The New York Times, September 7, 1913 p.SM14:|
What He Saw In Bolivia, Peru and Ecuador--
By Gen. Rafael Reyes.
Strange Reminders of Civilizations Older Than the Pharaohs
and Modern Problems Met with in a New Way.
Former President of the Republic of Colombia.
...THE REPUBLIC OF ECUADOR.
As is well known, the Republic of Ecuador in the epoch of its primitive independence formed a part of the extensive empire bequeathed by the conqueror, Huay-Napac, to his sons Huascar and Atahualpa; but the rivalry between these princes led to a violent revolution which continued until the conquest of the territory by Pizzaro, Almagro and de Benalcazar. Until 1717 the country was ruled by a viceroy, whose seat of government was in Lima, and whose juridiction extended over the courts of Panama, Caracas, Santa Fé, Quito, Lima, Cuzco, Charcas, Santiago and Buenos Aries.
The initial demand for independence in Spanish America was proclaimed by Ecuador, and in 1809 the revolutionary party named the Marquis of Selva Alegre its first President. Ecuador, however, did not then enjoy complete independence, as it was practically a State of the larger republic of Great Colombia, in which was also included New Granada (now Colombia,) and Venezuela, governed by Bolivar until 1830.
On the death of the Liberator Venezuela and Ecuador seceded from the republic, the latter becoming a self-governing republic under the constitutional Presidency of Gen. Juan José Flores. From that date to the present time, the Republic of Ecuador has had eighteen Presidents, and, as the result of a long series of revolutions, no less than eleven different constitutions.
But She Is Advancing.
...The territory of Ecuador, embracing a population of less than 3,000,000 inhabitants, is rich in mineral resources and produces large quantities of gold, silver, lignite, marble, coal and petroleum, while the manufacture of hats from the toquilla palm, or jijijapa fibre, (incorrectly described as Panama hats,) constitutes an important industry. Ecuador also contains a number of sugar estates capable of great extension, and other industrial establishments devoted to the production of shoes, cigars, cigarettes and textile fabrics, but the lack of railroad communication has hitherto been the chief factor in limiting the output of these industries.
Guayaquil, which is the principal port, is also a city of some importance, owing to its population, its commercial movement, and its general up-to-date appearance, while Quito, the capital, which is connected with Guayaquil by a railroad belonging to an American company, is distinguished by the artistic character of its buildings, its monuments, and above all, bu the quality of its society, which ranks high in Latin America.
One of the great difficulties of the country is the absence of roads and highways for vehicular traffic, there being little else than mule tracks for transport between one town and another; and in some parts of the republic there are merely fords in the smaller streams during the dry season and primitive suspension bridges across deep gorges and swift mountain currents.
Same Bridges Pizzaro Crossed.
These bridges are constructed from a species of hard fibre and are exceedingly dangerous to cross, rendering it necessary to bring frequently into use short river channels along the coast. Railroad construction is, however, now proceeding at various points, and with its gradual extension and the increase of revenue from commercial expansion, resources will be available for the making of new roads and highways for local transport.
Notwithstanding the fact that the Indians and mestizos form the bulk of the population of Ecuador, caste sentiment is very pronounced among those who claim pure white descent, and, as in Chile, the latter are the governing classes. The mestizos, who are generally traders and artisans, are uneducated and indolent, possessing similar characteristics to those of the civilized Indians to which type they really belong. As in Peru, there are still many tribes of wild Indians who inhabit the forests and stoutly resist any effort to civilize them and administrative measures to subject them to obediance to the law.
Education is very backward and confined chiefly to the better classes, as, although primary instruction for children from six to twelve years of age is obligatory, there is an insufficient number of public schools, and even at those established the attendance is irregular and not enforced. A programme has recently been laid down for an entire reorganization of the educational system, and with the assistance of the authorities of the Universities of Quito, Guayaquil and Cuenca, it is hoped that considerable improvement will be shown in the future.
Much of the backwardness of Ecuador in all that pertains to modern progress owes its existence to the lack of financial resources as much as to the want of means of communication; and it is to the fact that Ecuador has no credit in the great financial centres and is thus unable to effect necessary reforms that progressive measures have been regarded with indifference, which may be illustrated by the statement that Ecuador, despite the adoption fifty years ago of the metric system, still exclusively uses the old Spanish weights and measures.
The extreme poverty of the people and the other circumstances here described have combined to produce a lack of public spirit and of civic ideals typical of states whose inhabitants labor under continues depression and of others where the rapid accumulation of wealth frequently results in a forgetfulness on the part of the people of their duties and obligations as citizens.
In the case of Ecuador, however, there is a sentiment of ardent patriotism beneath this apparent apathy, and I have little doubt that, more than in any other of the Latin republics on the Pacific Coast, when the Panama Canal is opened, a new era will dawn upon the isolated little republic and bring, with its material advance, corresponding improvement, morally, intellectually, and socially. The national resources are sufficiently abundant and the possibilities presented are great enough to justify this belief.
It is merely a question of time for the country to emerge from its present comparative obscurity and to be placed on a footing of equality, from the standpoints of progress and order, with her sister republics. Ecuador is at present a poor member of the Latin American family, but her prospects are bright and give early promise of a happy realization.