Thursday, August 7, 2008

Mild-mannered Patricio Endara

Today Nicole and I had our final day of field interviews. Our 60th and final interview was with a prominent member of Quito's metropolitan council who will likely compete in the next mayoral election. His high profile and status was confirmed by the fact that our 3:00 appointment got bumped to 3:30, 3:45, 4:15, and finally 4:35. And our 30 minute slot was sliced down to 20 minutes. While we were waiting, we did electronic chores, charmed the office staff (yielded full access to the archives we needed), and ran into our friend Patricio Endara.
Patricio appears to be a mild-mannered Clark Kent type. He speaks in a quiet voice, doesn't emote much, and seems harmless. He says the following phrases all in the same tone: "I had coffee for breakfast," "I'm mobilizing 100,000 people to occupy central Quito next Saturday," and "Please pass the butter."

I met Patricio in 2002 when he was in charge of the Coordinadora Popular de Quito (Popular Coordinating Committee of Quito) which, when it (kind of) absorbed several other organizations (the most horizontal, consensual takeover you've ever heard of), morphed into the Foro Urbano (Urban Forum).

Patricio showed up to see the city councilman we were waiting to interview. It was clear from the office staff's reactions that Patricio would not need an appointment in order to cut in front of the entire line of well-dressed petitioners waiting their turn.

Patricio has no plans to run for office, but I predict a Paul Wellstone-like trajectory for him. He'll try to stick to movement politics, but in another decade he'll be dragooned into electoral politics by his allies and supporters who decide he's just too good to not put him in charge. His current project is to lead a massive groundswell of support for the "Sí" ("Yes") vote in the upcoming September Constitutional referendum (that's what the 100,000 people are for).

I once asked him to describe his greatest defeat. He was quiet for a long time, then shrugged, his only answer a faint smile that betrayed just a trace of ego, as if to say "I'll let you know if that happens. But don't hold your breath."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

As Nicole's mom, I have been perhaps your most avid reader of Equal Footing (in fact I probably check it 10 times a day to see if there is a new entry, to check out the weather where you are, to 'meet' some of your incredible 'interviewees, to feel connected.....etc.).

As a woman who has never been to South or Central America, who has not followed some of the issues you are exploring, but who is deeply commited to issues of human rights, social and and economic justice, and honoring the strengths of all woman/mankind, I read about your work with great interest. I appreciate the integrity with which you approach your work and the great respect with which you share some of the stories and photos of those who have shared so much of themselves with you.

And as Nicole's parent, I very much appreciate the opportunity that she has had to work with and learn from an amazing team, to be a partner in learning from the 'over-60' individuals with whom you all have met......and to be the recipient of the supportive, inspiring guidance of Paul. (and maybe she has guided him as well!) Lastly, thank you to Andrea and Araminta for welcoming Nicole to your family and for your support.

What can I say but 'wow', thanks and what next?

With appreciation,
Margie, Nicole's mom