Ecuadorian Americans

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Author: Jeremy Mumford
Editor: Thomas Riggs
Date: 2014
Publisher: Gale, a Cengage Company
Document Type: Topic overview
Length: 10,887 words
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Page 47

Ecuadorian Americans

Jeremy Mumford


Ecuadorian Americans are immigrants or descendants of immigrants from Ecuador, a small country on the northwestern coast of South America. Ecuador is bordered by Colombia on the north, Peru on the south and east, and the Pacific Ocean on the west and is roughly the size of Colorado. The earth's equator, for which the country is named, runs through Ecuador only a few miles north of its capital, Quito. Ecuador measures 108,109 square miles (280,000 square kilometers) in area.

In 2012 the CIA World Factbook estimated Ecuador's population to be about 15.2 million, which is larger than the population of Illinois (12.8 million) but smaller than the population of New York state (19.6 million). Ecuadorians are about 95 percent Roman Catholic and 5 percent Protestant; however, the proportions of the two faiths are slightly more equal among Ecuadorian immigrants in the United States. The majority of Ecuadorians are descended from Spaniards and South American Indians, although there are also significant numbers of Ecuadorian Americans who are descended from Lebanese, Italians, Germans, Chinese, and Japanese. In addition, the Afro-Ecuadorian population numbers between 800,000 and 1.1 million people, making this segment about 1 percent of the total population. In 1999 Ecuador suffered a huge economic crisis, and the economy became destabilized. As a result, the poverty rate increased significantly. But since about 2002, Ecuador's economy has begun to move gradually but surely down the path of recovery. The unemployment rate as of 2011 was 4.2 percent (14.1 percent for workers younger than age twenty-four), and 28.6 percent of the country lives below the poverty line. This number has grown due to the increasing number of refugees who have fled to Ecuador, especially from Colombia. Ecuador's primary natural resource is petroleum and the source of its greatest wealth in recent times.

Prior to the 1960s, few Ecuadorians immigrated to the United States; however, certain factors caused this number to skyrocket after 1965, and over the last thirty years, between 200,000 and 500,000 Ecuadorians (between 2 and 5 percent of the national population) have immigrated to the United States. They settled primarily in New York, as well as in New Jersey and Connecticut, and they work in all levels of employment, from sweatshops and kitchens to entrepreneurial and professional positions. Since the start of the twenty-first century, Ecuadorian Americans have begun to claim dual citizenship by becoming naturalized U.S. citizens while still retaining their Ecuadorian citizenship and affiliation.

A total of 523,000 Ecuadorian Americans live in the United States (Pew Research Group, 2007); this group is approximately the size of the population of the state of Wyoming. Most Ecuadorian Americans live in the Northeast (around 67 percent), with about 42 percent living in New York and the rest mainly in New Jersey and Connecticut. Another sizable group lives in Los Angeles.


Early History A clearer understanding of the history of Ecuador can offer insight into the practices, pastimes, and preferences of modern Ecuadorian Americans. Many civilizations have inhabited Ecuador over the millennia, and because of this diversity in the population over an extended period of time, some segments of the modern population derive their historical origins from a broad spectrum of various groups. For example, many Ecuadorian indigenous groups have tracked their heritage and identified themselves as being linked to earlier groups such as the Cañari, Saraguro, and Otavalos. Coastal Ecuador has been called the cradle of South America because the earliest evidence of advanced human society was found there.

A shroud of mystery covers the first settlement of the continent. Most historians assume its first inhabitants were migrants from northeast Asia who crossed the Bering Strait to Alaska and worked their way south. In any case, the earliest South Americans whose artifacts have survived were coastal Ecuadorians—the Valdivian civilization in Manabí Province, whose pottery dates from 3500 BCE. Later Ecuadorians, known as costeños (people of the costa, or “coast”), produced finely worked gold and platinum ornaments; their descendants may have carried their pottery and metal-working skills into the Andean highlands and beyond.

While the earliest settled societies in Ecuador were on the coast, in later centuries, the most powerful and advanced societies were found in the mountains. Page 48  |  Top of ArticleVarious ethnolinguistic groups with varying degrees of political organization divided the highlands among them and were sometimes at war, sometimes at peace.

During the middle of the fifteenth century CE, the Incan state in what is now southern Peru began to expand rapidly under a series of gifted leaders. In the 1460s the Incan army penetrated the southern part of what is now Ecuador. The Inca were able to transform their conquered lands in a short time. They built excellent roads, leading to rapid and efficient communication within their empire. They forced whole villages to relocate, placing those who spoke their language (Quechua) on the conquered land while moving the conquered subjects to places where they had no roots or allies. In a short time, the Inca virtually obliterated the political entities that had preceded them in Ecuador. Incan rule in Ecuador was relatively brief; however, their legacy lingers on in the widespread use of Quichua (a derivative of Quechua), the most common Indian language in Ecuador. The circulation and adoption of this language was largely a result of Spanish colonization.

By the early sixteenth century, the Spanish conquistadors entered the picture. A minor nobleman named Francisco Pizarro, with an army of fewer than two thousand, was able to conquer an empire of half a million people within ten years. This conquest led to a three-hundred-year Spanish rule in South America. Until 1720 Ecuador was part of the viceroyalty of Peru; after that date, it was grouped with what is now Colombia in the viceroyalty of New Granada.

Modern Era At the time of South America's independence in the early nineteenth century, Ecuador was again a pivotal territory and was again contested by outside powers. Two great generals shared the glory of South America's liberation: Simón Bolívar, from Venezuela, and José de San Martín, a Spanish officer born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, who defected to fight for his native land. Starting at opposite ends of the continent, each achieved a series of stunning victories. After Bolívar had advanced as far as Quito in Ecuador, and San Martín had taken Peru from Spain, the two generals met in Quayaquil—the chief city of coastal Ecuador.

That meeting in 1822 between the continent's two greatest heroes has become legendary. Nobody knew how the great talents and plans of the two men would accommodate one another, and no one knows what they said to each other that day in Quayaquil. But after the meeting, San Martín left South America forever while Bolívar became known as the continent's liberator, and an Ecuadorian city was the point where the two movements of liberation met and the continent's destiny was decided.

After establishing its independence, Ecuador joined with what are now Colombia, Panama, and Venezuela to form a nation called Gran Colombia, and once again, Ecuador became a lesser section of a larger unit. This arrangement did not last long, however. When Bolívar's chosen successor, the Ecuadorian Antonio José de Sucre, was assassinated in 1830, the union collapsed, and Bolívar fled to Europe.

In modern times, the uncertainty of Ecuador's national identity with regard to its powerful neighbors has persisted. In 1941 Peru seized more than a third of Ecuadorian territory in the south and east. Most of this land was thinly inhabited Amazonian forest, and most of the people living there had little sense of being Ecuadorian.

Ecuador was governed by constitutional rule between 1947 and 1960, followed by a period of instability and military rule that lasted for almost twenty years and was particularly intense between 1972 and 1979. In 1973 Ecuador gained entry into the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). The cultivation and extraction of its petroleum reserves created a period of strong economic growth. Following the economic growth that had taken place from 1972 to 1979, the economy of Ecuador in general had stabilized and resulted in the nation being a more harmonious place to live.

In 1979 Ecuador became democratic with the election of Jaime Roldos Aguilera as president; however, Aguilera was killed in 1981 in a suspicious plane crash. In keeping with the terms of the country's constitution, the vice president, Osvaldo Hurtado, took over control of the government. His tenure faced extreme challenges by the end of the petroleum economic boom. An economic crisis arose during the early 1980s, and inflation soared. Hurtado strove to maintain Ecuador's financial security on an international basis. Despite his relative success in achieving this objective, however, the economic crisis continued through the tenure (1984–1988) of his successor, León Febres Cordero, who inaugurated free-market economic policies. Cordero also made attempts to crack down on drug trafficking and terrorist activities and maintained close ties with the United States.

Economic problems continued to plague the country through the 1980s, until the Ecuadorian people organized a successful protest movement that catalyzed a National Assembly designed to overhaul the constitution and reorganize the political infrastructure of Ecuador. This process lasted a year, and after an extended presidential election, the mayor of Quito, Jamil Mahuad, was elected president in 1998. His presidency was marked by peace agreements with Peru in 1998 and 1999. Mahuad also reorganized the currency of Ecuador by adopting the U.S. dollar as official currency. This move, however, proved extremely unpopular with Ecuador's financially challenged lower classes, who had difficulty converting their previous currency (sucres) into U.S. dollars, even while the upper classes became wealthier. Inflation again soared to record levels.

In the twenty-first century, demonstrations led Mahuad to resign in 2000, to be replaced by his vice Page 49  |  Top of Articlepresident, Gustavo Noboa. One of Mahuad's final acts as president was to publicly announce his support of Noboa. The latter's presidency did not last long; in 2002 a new president was elected, military colonel Lucio Gutiérrez. Gutiérrez's tenure was also short-lived, however, as the public against protested his actions as political leader of the country. He was replaced in 2005 by his vice president, Alfredo Palacio, whose capacity to serve as president proved more effective than his predecessors'. Left-wing Economist Rafael Correa was took office in 2007 with promises to combat political corruption and increase social spending.


Before the 1960s very few Ecuadorians had immigrated to the United States. In the late 1960s, however, Ecuadorians began to immigrate in large numbers. Ecuadorian Americans come from every part of Ecuador. In the early period of immigration most came from the northern and central sierra (the mountainous central part of the country), a region that includes Quito and its environs. Later, large numbers of Ecuadorians came from the costa, or the coastal west.

This latter large wave of immigration was catalyzed by several factors. First, United States immigration law changed around this time. Before 1965 national quotas on immigrants strongly favored Europeans; after that, changes in the law made it easier for Latin Americans and other non-Europeans to immigrate to the United States. Furthermore, migration was physically easier, as air travel became affordable to ordinary people for the first time in history.

Another factor that impacted Ecuadorian migration was the Ecuadorian land reform of the mid-1960s. In 1964 Ecuador passed the Land Reform, Idle Lands, and Settlement Act. An attempt to end the feudal system that had existed in the sierra for centuries, the law redistributed land from absentee landlords to the peasants who farmed it. According to Ecuador: A Country Study, this act improved the lives of tens of thousands of poor Ecuadorians and brought a measure of social justice to the rural areas. At the same time, the act also unsettled what had been a stable society. Many of these new landowners ultimately were forced to sell their land because they went into debt due to a lack of understanding of how to manage it. In addition, many of these small plots of land (called minifundios) were virtually unusable. For these reasons, among others, large sections of the population left the sierra for the cities, the costa, and foreign lands such as Venezuela and the United States.

Once Ecuadorian immigration to the United States began, it snowballed. More than for any other reason, immigration becomes possible because people have contacts in the new country. As immigrants send money home and encourage others to join them, the immigrant community builds on itself. The 1990 U.S. Census counted 191,000 Ecuadorians in the United States, but there are so many undocumented Ecuadorian Americans that the true number was probably much larger. The Ecuadorian consulate in Manhattan estimated in the 1990s that there were 300,000 Ecuadorians in New York and New Jersey, and 500,000 in the United States altogether. During the early 1990s, the largest numbers came from the southern sierra, near the border with Peru. An estimated 5 percent of the Ecuadorian states of Cañar and Azuay have immigrated to the United States.

A majority of Ecuadorian immigrants have selected New York City as their destination of choice. The 2000 U.S. Census reported that 70 percent of the approximately 523,000 Ecuadorian Americans lived there. Ecuadorians in New York cluster in certain neighborhoods—usually the ones where other South Americans live. The greatest number live in the borough of Queens, especially in the northern neighborhoods of Astoria, Jackson Heights, and Flushing. Roosevelt Avenue in Jackson Heights is lined with Ecuadorian travel agencies, restaurants, and telephone and money-wiring services. Signs in local bars advertise South American soccer matches on cable television. Another group of Ecuadorians settled in the Bronx, in the Morris Hills and Highbridge neighborhoods north of Yankee Stadium. Still other Ecuadorian neighborhoods are found in Brooklyn, in Los Angeles, in New Jersey cities such as Newark and Jersey City, and in working-class towns in Connecticut.

One notable characteristic of Ecuadorians is their capacity to find their way to the United States through both traditional and undocumented channels. Many Ecuadorians arrive in the United States via legitimate paths; for example, a close relative or a prospective employer petitions for them, and they wait in Ecuador until a visa becomes available. This method, however, requires complex paperwork and can take years on a waiting list. Therefore, Ecuadorians sometimes employ other means of entering the United States. Some simply overstay their originally legitimate visas, until they can receive papers that allow them to remain as permanent U.S. residents. Other immigrants simply come and live in the United States for years without documentation. These Ecuadorians may smuggle themselves across the border without papers—either by foot from Mexico or by boat into Puerto Rico. Most often, they fly in with a limited-stay tourist visa and then never leave. One older study, reported in the New York Times (September 2, 1993) and conducted using a statistical formula applied to data from border crossings, airports, and the census, found that Ecuadorians were one of the three largest groups of undocumented aliens living in New York City at the time.

More recently, however, patterns of immigration from Ecuador to the United States have undergone a marked shift. In the first place, the decade of the

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1990s witnessed a huge increase in the number of individuals arriving from Ecuador. Possible reasons for this increase include slumping petroleum profits and skyrocketing inflation in Ecuador, which have negatively impacted its economy and elevated the poverty rate. As a means of dealing with these challenges, a number of Ecuadorian families have sent young male members of their clans to the United States not only to earn income to send back to Ecuador but also so that these young men might have a greater opportunity to become independent adults, as a struggling Ecuadorian economy has inhibited their capacity to do this at home.

Many of the undocumented Ecuadorian immigrants who arrive in the United States thus only do so as a means to an end; their migration is based on a desire to earn money from opportunities that might not be as available in their home country. Subsequently, as Jason Pribilsky notes in his book La Chulla Vida: Gender, Migration, and the Family in Andean Ecuador and New York, many of the undocumented Ecuadorian immigrants who arrived in the United States at the end of the twentieth century and in the early years of the twenty-first century have done so under the assumption that they will be able to earn more money than would be possible in Ecuador. As a whole, this group also harbors tentative plans to return to Ecuador after they have achieved greater financial stability.

As a result, a considerable gulf exists between the established community of Ecuadorian Americans whose families arrived in the United States years earlier and the population of undocumented Ecuadorians who arrived in the 1990s and later. Pribilsky observes that mention of undocumented workers in the Ecuadoran News, which is a popular periodical among Ecuadorian Americans, said virtually nothing about the challenges faced by the undocumented population. In addition, even the vibrant celebration of the Tenth of August Parade, which takes place in New York City and celebrates Ecuador's independence from Spain, effectively did not offer a means of support or an opportunity to foster a greater sense of community in the United States for undocumented immigrants. Instead, Ecuadorian undocumented immigrants might find some solace in attending Catholic masses offered in their language; however, as Pribilsky reports, this sense of connection to an established religious institution could just as likely cause undocumented Ecuadorians to miss their families back in Ecuador instead of giving them any sense of feeling at home.

A majority of documented or established Ecuadorian Americans are employed. They have only a 6.5 percent unemployment rate, as compared with a 7.3 percent unemployment rate among all Hispanics. Nevertheless, this number is still slightly higher than the national average of 6.3 percent (in 2009, according to a Pew Research report). They most frequently Page 51  |  Top of Articlework in the information, finance, maintenance, and other service industries, finding employment in trade and transportation, sales and office support, and even in management and professional positions in industries in which Ecuadorian Americans are frequently employed. Undocumented Ecuadorians living in the United States pursue other types of occupations. As Pribilsky reports in his book, Ecuadorian workers in 1999–2000 were most frequently employed in restaurants or supermarkets, or they served as day laborers or worked in construction.

More-established Ecuadorian Americans, whose families arrived during the mid-1960s, were motivated to relocate by the land reform in Ecuador. Immigrants from later generations (the 1990s and later), however, sought economic opportunities abroad because of a lack of financial stability in their home country. For this reason among many others, a considerable gulf exists between the Ecuadorian Americans who have resided in the United States for a generation and those—frequently undocumented—who have come to the United States during the last couple of decades.


Ecuador is a bilingual country. Spanish is the country's primary language, but Quichua is also quite prevalent. In traditional Indian communities in the sierra, for example, the first language is Quichua, although they may also speak Spanish. Quichua (called Quechua in Peru) was the language of the Inca Empire and took root after the Inca conquered what is now Ecuador. Ironically, the Spaniards are responsible for the continued spread of Quichua; Spanish missionaries taught Christianity to the Indians in the Quichua language, thus prompting other Indian communities to learn it. In the sierra, Quichua is the only surviving Indian language. It has several dialects and is no longer understood by the Quechua speakers of Peru.

In the Amazonian oriente, or eastern region of Ecuador, about half the Indians speak Quichua. The rest of the Amazonian Indians, such as the Shuur and the Achuar, speak the languages of their tribes. These more traditional groups live mainly in the southern part of eastern Ecuador.

Nearly all Ecuadorians who immigrate to the United States speak Spanish. So few immigrants come from traditional Indian communities that they lack sufficient numbers to maintain a Quichua-speaking community in the United States. But while Ecuadorian immigrants cannot avoid speaking Spanish, the same does not hold true for English. The cohesiveness of the Ecuadorian American community allows many of its members to avoid learning fluent English, even after ten years or more in the United States. According to the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey estimates for 2009–2011, only 51 percent of Ecuadorian Americans reported speaking English proficiently, and 90 percent reported speaking a language other than English at home. (In contrast, the overall English-proficiency rate for U.S. Hispanics and Latinos was estimated at 65 percent.) Since the last several years of the twentieth century, the number of immigrants whose native tongue is Quichua has risen rapidly; this population of Quichua speakers is also largely female.


In Ecuador, the majority of people belong to the Roman Catholic Church (around 95 percent), with the remaining 5 percent being Protestant. Among Ecuadorian Americans, the proportion of Catholics to Protestants is more balanced. This is due to evangelical Christianity's recent spread in Ecuador. In the last few decades, evangelical Protestant missionaries have converted many in Ecuador, especially in the countryside and urban slums. These missionaries, mainly of North American origin, have experienced the most success in the southern sierra, including Cañar, Azuay, and Chimborazo Provinces. In Chimborazo Province, by 1980 nearly 40 percent of the population was evangelical Protestant.

Nearly all Ecuadorians who immigrate to the United States speak Spanish. So few immigrants come from traditional Indian communities that they lack sufficient numbers to maintain a Quichua-speaking community in the United States.

During the 1980s and 1990s, the largest number of Ecuadorian immigrants to the United States came from these provinces in the southern sierra. This fact has contributed to the greater number of Protestant Ecuadorian Americans in the United States. Since many Ecuadorians associate the United States with the Protestant missionaries who originate there, Protestant Ecuadorians are more likely to emigrate than Catholics are. In the United States they are not as small a minority as in Ecuador, and perhaps feel they can practice their religion more freely. There are no reliable statistics on this subject, but some community members estimate that one-third of Ecuadorian Americans are Protestant.


Like most immigrants today, Ecuadorian Americans are ambivalent about assimilation. It eases the difficulties of immigrant life, yet it steals what remains of home. New Ecuadorian immigrants tend not to embrace an American identity to the extent that some immigrant groups do, or did in the past. Many return home after a few years or intend to do so. For those who do stay, however, assimilation is difficult to resist. Older immigrants often complain that their grownup children speak English better than Spanish, marry outside of the community, get divorced, abandon their religion, and ignore their parents.

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A notable assimilation trend on the part of Ecuadorian Americans is their tendency to adopt not mainstream U.S. customs but rather practices that reflect the culture of the Latino American community in general. For instance, in Mexican American families, a girl's fifteenth birthday, or quinceañera, is an extremely important occasion, a coming-of-age celebration. This custom has never been a common one in Ecuador. Among Ecuadorian Americans, however, it has become the current custom, just as it has among other Latino Americans.

One difficult decision related to assimilation that many Ecuadorian American immigrants face is whether to become naturalized U.S. citizens. Only a minority of Ecuadorian Americans officially change their citizenship allegiance. Those who are undocumented aliens cannot become citizens, of course, and even those who have legally obtained a green card must wait five years before they are eligible for citizenship. Among Ecuadorian Americans, the 2011 American Community Survey administered by the U.S. Census Bureau reports that 46.1 percent of males and 53.9 percent of females are naturalized U.S. citizens.

Furthermore, many Ecuadorians view becoming a U.S. citizen as a betrayal of their own country. But as of September 2002, Ecuador began permitting expatriates to become citizens of other nations without losing their Ecuadorian citizenship. In addition, Ecuadorians who live abroad are allowed to vote in national elections. On an emotional level, however, many Ecuadorians feel uncomfortable swearing allegiance to the United States. Naturalization and assimilation, however, often helps lessen the discrimination that Ecuadorian Americans experience.

The primary means by which Ecuadorian Americans maintain the culture of their home country is via the regional association, unofficial groups established to unite immigrants from the same Ecuadorian province or town. Ecuadorians frequently maintain closer ties and greater loyalty to their home villages, cities, or regions than to Ecuador as a nation. For example, an Ecuadorian from Ambato may identify himself first as a resident of the city of Ambato, second as a serrano (someone from the sierra), and only third as an Ecuadorian. In New York, the area of greatest concentration of Ecuadorian Americans, an immigrant can join a group associated with his hometown or region. These associations, many of which have very little formal organization but join in loose federations with those from other regions, are a vital part of immigrant social life. Outside of New York, an immigrant may join an organization for Ecuadorians generally.

Regional associations allow immigrants to associate with others who not only share their homeland and language but also their cultural background, their regional accent, and perhaps even friends at home. They provide an extended family to immigrants who may be homesick or lonely; they also offer a pool of credit for an immigrant to start a business, and they function as an informal channel for news and information as well as for sending and receiving gifts and money. The mail may be slow, and there may be no telephone at home, but at any given moment, someone from the regional association is about to visit Ecuador or has just returned.

Cuisine The cuisine of Ecuadorian Americans reflects their region of origin, as each of the different regions of Ecuador has its own cuisine. Perhaps the most distinctive and highly prized Ecuadorian dish, and what most closely approaches a national dish, is the ceviche of the costa. The dish is consumed in many regions of Latin America, but Ecuadorians claim to have invented it. Ceviche is raw seafood marinated in the juice of citrus fruits and served chilled. The acidic juice actually “cooks” the flesh, preserves it, and gives it a pleasing flavor. Ceviche can be made with many different kinds of fish, but shrimp is most commonly used. Lemon, lime, or even orange juice is used in the dish. Ceviche may also have vegetables such as onions, tomatoes, and peppers, and roasted peanuts may be sprinkled on top. The popularity of this dish can be demonstrated by its presence on the menu of any Ecuadorian American restaurant.

Besides fish, the other staple food of the costa is bananas. Ecuador was one of the original “banana republics,” a country whose economy depended utterly on banana exports. Bananas have always been at the heart of lowland Ecuadorian agriculture and cuisine and are a major part of the diet both in the costa and the oriente. There are many costeños in New York, and these New Yorkers eat a lot of bananas.

A wide variety of bananas grow and are eaten in Ecuador: guineos (the large yellow bananas widely known in the United States), magueños (short, plump, red bananas), oritas (tiny yellow bananas), and platanos (green plantains, a starchier type of banana used in cooking) are the main varieties. These and others are all prepared by Ecuadorian Americans in many different ways—whole, sliced, and mashed; raw, boiled, fried, and baked.

Where costeños use bananas, serranos, who live in the colder mountain climates where bananas do not grow, use potatoes. The potato, which was first domesticated by ancient Andean farmers, has been a staple in the region for millennia. Like the banana, the potato has many forms in Ecuador and is prepared in many ways. Ecuadorian Americans from the sierra, therefore, use many different potatoes, as they are accustomed to a variety. Besides potatoes, serranos also love corn (maize), which can be eaten on the cob or in tamales. Much of serrano cooking takes the form of soups. Before the Spaniards came, Ecuadorians did not use ovens but mostly boiled their food. This custom has Page 53  |  Top of Articlecontinued to influence their cuisine. The ordinary Ecuadorian meal will center on a sopa or caldo—soups made with potatoes and other vegetables and perhaps some meat.

The ordinary diet in Ecuador has very little meat. One traditional meat is the cuy, or guinea pig. Many Indian families in rural Ecuador keep guinea pigs, which they eat on special occasions. The meat is delicious, but there is very little of it. Ecuadorians in the United States have trouble getting cuy meat. But beef, chicken, and pork, which are more abundant and affordable in the United States than in Ecuador, have been more widely incorporated into Ecuadorian American cooking as a result.

In Ecuador one of the most popular drinks is chicha, a fermented liquor that is frequently referred to as “beer.” In villages in the costa, the drink is still made with yucca tubers by the women, who first chew the yucca and spit it out before letting it ferment. Chemicals in the saliva help to ferment the yucca. In the United States, this drink is difficult to obtain. Most Ecuadorian Americans have adapted to this shortage by drinking wine or beer instead. Other types of liquors commonly consumed include aguardient, a liquor made from sugarcane, which is consumed in both Ecuador and abroad.

Ecuadorians also drink a lot of coffee, and often insist on making it in the traditional way that it is prepared in Ecuador. This method requires boiling the coffee down to a thick sludge known as esencia and bringing it to the table in a small pitcher or bottle. It is then blended in the cup with hot water, milk, and sugar. The final product has an unusual, rather bitter taste that is quite different from the coffee most Americans drink; however, Ecuadorian Americans prefer it.

Dances and Songs Music is an important part of Ecuadorian culture, and Ecuadorian Americans enjoy it in celebrations and as an everyday part of life. One of the most prominent musical styles in Ecuador is Andean music. Like all American musical forms, it has European and African influences, but musicologists believe that Andean music in its most basic form has remained the same since before the arrival of the Spaniards.

Andean music has become increasingly popular in the United States. Many Ecuadorian Americans of serrano Indian background perform this type of music in traditional groups in the United States, and they often perform with Peruvians and Bolivians. Some of these groups play on university campuses and in music halls, but many more play in the streets and subways of New York and other cities. With their long, straight hair; homburg (derby) hats; and brightly colored serrano ponchos, they create a spectacle anywhere they have not been seen before and may earn good money in spontaneous gifts from appreciative listeners. These musicians wear working clothes that emphasize their Indian background but that they would probably not wear at home, either in New York or in Ecuador.

The essential instruments of Andean music are winds and percussion. The wind instruments are flutes or panpipes—a row of pipes of various lengths attached together—while the percussion comprises various drums and rattles. Andean Indians also utilize stringed instruments such as violins, guitars, and ukulele-like instruments. The music's mood, carried by the winds and strings, is generally plaintive, even melancholy. The percussion carries the music forward at a steady pace, inviting dancing. The typical musical group is large (six or more different musicians) and is usually all male. To those unfamiliar with it, Andean music can sound monotonous, with slight variations on a theme by the flutes. But to those who understand it, the long Andean song is a hypnotic exploration of a musical idea.

In recent years, recordings of traditional music have become widely available, groups tour, and certain musical groups have become famous throughout the whole Andean region. For instance, the Bolivian group Los Kjarkas won a wide following throughout Ecuador when they toured there, and their songs are now played throughout Ecuador. Certain songs have become standards and are played throughout the region. Panpipes from the southern Andes, called zampoñas, are also becoming popular in Ecuador.

In addition to Andean music, Ecuadorian Americans enjoy listening to musica nacional (literally, “national music”), a style of music that uses amplified and electronic instruments and blends elements of traditional and popular Latin music. This music is played at weddings and other festivities and is also called sanjuanitos, after the festival of San Juan. Ecuadorian Americans utilize this type of music in their celebrations and family gatherings. Ecuadorians in the costa play a musical style closely related to the coastal Colombian cumbia style, with strong Afro-Caribbean influences. Nevertheless, despite the popularity of this type of music, and even though traditional Andean music is Ecuador's most distinctive cultural export, Ecuadorian Americans at home are more likely to listen to sanjuanitos, or the various other Latin styles that have come together in the Latino American community. This trend could reflect the tendency of some Ecuadorian Americans to appropriate Latino American culture over and above their assimilation of mainstream U.S. culture.

Other types of popular music include the pasillo, a style that shifts according to the village in which it is performed. As a dance, the pasillo resembles a waltz; the instruments that provide the accompaniment for this dance include guitars, mandolins, and other stringed instruments; a rondin, a type of flute, is also used to accompany the

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El bote que pertenece a muchos se agita y hierve mal aún peor.

The pot that belongs to many is stirred poorly and boiled even worse.

Recuerden que manos que dan, reciben.

Hands that give also receive.

Cada secreto es finalmente revelado.

Every secret is eventually revealed.

La ira de la mente es veneno para el alma.

Anger of the mind is poison to the soul.

Es un buen sermón sobre el ayuno cuando el predicador sólo tenía el almuerzo.

It's a fine sermon about fasting when the preacher just had lunch.

No importa si el niño nace con una nariz chata, con tal de que el niño está respirando.

No matter if the child is born with a flat nose, as long as it is breathing.

El diablo es más sabio por su edad no porque él es el diablo.

The devil's wiser more on account of his age than on account of being the devil.

Gente fuerte perdonar a otros; personas débiles recordar transgresiones.

The strong forgive; the weak remember.



Refers to a local trying to act like someone from the United States


“Hello,” used when answering the phone

A la johnny—

Going to the United States

A precio de huevo—

Cheap (literally, the price of an egg)


An exclamation of surprise

Estar con la luna

Crazy (literally, “to be with the moon”)

La familia pavoni

Trying to get something for nothing, broke (literally, “turkey family”)

Mantel largel

Banquet in the house


Kiss (used in the sierra)

No sea mailto

Expression used when a favor is needed

Palo grueso

Influential person with a lot of power

Prenda el foco

Think (literally, “turn the light on”)

pasillo. Another popular type of song is practiced on Ecuador's coast—the amor fino, which is another example of a song that is danced to.

One of the most common occasions during which Ecuadorian Americans sing and dance are the fundraising parties hosted by regional associations in order to acquire contributions to send to schools, libraries, and soup kitchens in Ecuador.

Holidays The most important holiday for Ecuadorians is August 10, the anniversary of the primer grito, or “first cry,” of independence in Ecuador and South America. In New York, this day is designated as “Ecuador Day” and is marked by a parade on Thirty-Seventh Avenue in Queens. Ecuadorian New Yorkers also participate in the Desfile de Hispanidad, a parade of Latin American immigrants on the day before Columbus Day.

Many Ecuadorian Americans also celebrate the festivals of the Christian year, such as Christmas, Carnival, and Holy Week/Easter. In addition, individual saints have their festivals, which are associated with certain towns or regions of Ecuador. The feast of Saint John the Baptist (San Juan), celebrated on June 24, is of special importance to Otavaleños, and is celebrated by all-night music and dancing throughout the northern sierra. This festival is marked by three Catholic masses—a vigil (the evening before), a dawn, and a midday mass. In addition, flowers are collected and dried to make wreaths to be hung in the house over the following year. The feast of the Virgin of Carmen, on July 16, is observed by people from the town of Cuenca. Among Ecuadorian Americans, these religious holidays are generally celebrated in private, with family and friends, and not in public festivals as they are in Ecuador.

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Ecuadorians have two models of family life: the Spanish/mestizo (a mestizo is a person of “mixed” blood; i.e., both native and European descent) model and the Indian model. In the first model, the father rules the family. He has few responsibilities at home, spends much of his leisure time away from his family, and is tacitly permitted to see other women. The mother does the work within the family. Children are taught to be obedient to their parents. Daughters are allowed little freedom outside the house. In the Indian family, on the other hand, husband and wife have a more equal relationship. The wife plays a greater economic role and has more decision-making authority within the family. Extramarital affairs are socially unacceptable for either spouse.

Ecuadorian Americans are exposed to and frequently influenced by a third model of family life: that which exists in U.S. mainstream society and culture. In this model, the position of the two parents is relatively equal, there is more sexual freedom than in either style of Ecuadorian family, and children have greater freedom and independence. As do all immigrants, Ecuadorian Americans must grapple with the cultural differences in family life between their home and their adopted country, and they must decide whether to resist or to embrace American norms.

In terms of child rearing, the relationship between a child and a parent can be strongly impacted by gender, as Jason Pribilsky points out. Although children are expected to treat their parents with respect, the way that they interact with their mothers may contrast with their exchanges with their fathers. In Ecuador, many children experience a somewhat distant relationship with their fathers, based on a cultural expectation of respeto (“respect”), which produces rigid strictures in these relationships. Many Ecuadorian American fathers and children, however, find that they can relax this rigidity in their own relationships; through this structure, a sense of carino, or affection, can enter into the equation. This development, in turn, also allows mothers to move into a slightly altered role, in the sense that they can help cultivate affection in their husbands' relationship with their children. Since many Ecuadorian American immigrants speak of having relocated for the sake of their children, as much as anything else, children are also a highly valued component of families for Ecuadorian Americans.

Immigration inevitably brings change to family life, whether one accepts or rejects the adopted culture. This is due not only to new cultural norms but also to the ways in which immigrating divides and rearranges families. Often Ecuadorian men immigrate alone, leaving their wives and children in Ecuador. In this respect, Ecuadorian immigrants differ from other South American immigrants, among whom women outnumber men. Such men may plan to get settled in the United States and then send for their families, or they may intend to return home after earning some money. Often such immigrants will first send for their older sons, and only later do their wives and other children join them. In working-class Ecuadorian neighborhoods in the United States, there is a predominance of men, which means that many Ecuadorian villages are currently made up mainly of women.

In general, Ecuadorian Americans tend to be married (51.1 percent); however, records show that more than one-third (34.5 percent) of Ecuadorian American women between the ages of fifteen and forty-four who gave birth around 2006 were not married. This rate is comparable to the average for U.S. women (33.4 percent). At the same time, however, some immigrants are young, single women who experience a level of freedom and independence they would not experience in Ecuador. Among the community of immigrant Indian street peddlers from the Otavalo region, for instance, there are many single women. Alone in an American city, they have a more independent life than they would have had at home.

One of the entities that greatly influences the type of life that Ecuadorian Americans live in the United States is the regional association. For example, not only do these associations provide a sense of community to immigrants, but they also offer services that would not otherwise be easily accessible. One major practice that these associations foster is the offering of charity. Individually, Ecuadorian immigrants send money to family and relatives. Through their membership in regional associations, however, they can extend this generosity beyond their families. Regional associations send large amounts of money to Ecuador every year—to schools, libraries, youth sports clubs, orphanages, and soup kitchens. One fundraiser, for instance, may be held to renovate a hometown church, another to bring a sick child to the United States for an operation.

The associations use a variety of fundraising techniques to garner contributions, including raffles, fund drives, and radio promotions; however, by far the most popular method of acquiring money to provide charity is the fundraising party. Members will rent an appropriate space, perhaps a community center, dance club, or South American restaurant, or they will convince a community businessperson to let them use the space for free. They will advertise the event in community newspapers and with flyers in Ecuadorian neighborhoods and businesses. The party will have a modest admission price and will feature food, drink, music and disco-style lighting. The band will be Ecuadorian and will play a mix of traditional Ecuadorian folk music, romantic ballads, modern Ecuadorian dance music, and other Latino music.

Besides the regional associations, Ecuadorian Americans rely heavily on a range of services offered Page 56  |  Top of Articlewithin the community. They depend on grocery stores, restaurants, travel agencies, and undertakers for services, and the buildings that house these service providers have even transformed sections of Queens into a little Quito, where one never has to feel like a foreigner. One of the most important of these services is Spanish-language banking. New York banks are notoriously unfriendly and will refuse to open accounts for those without much money, a job, or a Social Security number, so Hispanic banks are a crucial service for immigrants. Banks such as First Bank of the Americas, a Colombian-owned bank with branches in Queens, mean a great deal to Ecuadorian immigrants.

Whereas these communities and businesses offer options and connections to Ecuadorian Americans, their purpose is not to cover every aspect of life, to prevent Ecuadorian Americans from fully integrating into American society, or to replace American government in the lives of immigrants. Regional associations do not undertake to provide work or housing for new arrivals, as the institutions of some immigrants from other countries do. Ecuadorians are not insular, and they willingly seek out the benefits and services of society at large. The general average of Ecuadorian Americans who live below the poverty line is 14.8 percent; this number is higher than that of the general U.S. population (11.9 percent) but below the average of 19.5 percent of all Hispanic Americans.

Education In general, Ecuadorian Americans complete higher levels of educaion than do Hispanic Americans overall. Of all Ecuadorian Americans who are twenty-five years and older, 18.2 percent have earned a bachelor's degree (12.6 percent of all U.S. Hispanics have attained this educational level). Overall, 71 percent of Ecuadorian Americans have earned a high school diploma, and 38.95 percent have completed at least some college coursework (including the aforementioned 18.2 percent who have graduated with a four-year degree).


In general, Ecuadorian Americans occupy positions in a wide variety of industries, including construction and agriculture, manufacturing, trade and transportation, and information and finance. In fact, the greatest number of employed Ecuadorian Americans work in the information, finance, or service industries (50.9 percent). Almost half of employed Ecuadorian Americans work in this type of industry: other industries they work in include construction, agriculture, and mining (16.6 percent); manufacturing (12.2 percent); trade and transportation (21 percent). Within these industries, they occupy a wide variety of positions. The roles they occupy within the industries include the following breakdown: management and professional positions (18.4 percent), service positions (23.5 percent), sales and office support (19.8 percent), construction and farming (15.8 percent), and maintenance, production, and transportation (22.5 percent).

More established Ecuadorian Americans who have been in the United States for a generation or longer have created a business organization, Profesionales Ecuatorianos en el Exterior (PRO-ECUA), which offers support and advocacy for trade issues, as discussed by Pribilsky in La Chulla Vita. This group of Ecuadorian Americans are financially stable, to the extent that they take part in groups that organize philanthropic fundraising for Ecuadorians. The organization La Casa de la Cultura Ecuatoriana (CCE) is one such group.

For other Ecuadorian Americans, however, the working conditions they encounter do not prove as dependable. Many of them pursue work as esquineros (“street corner men”), as described by Pribilsky. In this occupation, they frequently run the risk of inclement weather, prejudicial treatment by passers-by or business owners, and intense competition from other persons engaged in a similar pursuit. Likely the most challenging element of this occupation is the unpredictability of its success. Because they are frequently not protected by laws concerning work conditions, they risk their health and safety in their attempts to secure work and complete jobs. A somewhat more stable but still challenging position would be that of a jornalero, or a person who meets at a predetermined place to engage in day laboring work. Although this occupation provides flexibility and seems easier than that of the esquineros, they both prove difficult to pursue on an extended basis. Other than these positions, many Ecuadorian Americans also pursue employment in garment factories or restaurants, as Pribilsky notes. Both of these types of jobs prove more secure and offer more consistent work than that of the esquineros or jornaleros.

Another group of Ecuadorian Americans is the entrepreneurs. Many immigrants with initiative and capital start businesses catering to the Ecuadorian community. These include Ecuadorian restaurants, travel agencies, and telephone and money-wiring services. Such community-oriented businesses also provide jobs for other Ecuadorians.

A third group of Ecuadorians is the professionals. Of all the immigrants, the members of this group occupied the highest status in Ecuador, received the most education there, and are often the unhappiest in the United States. Immigrating with great ambitions, they meet great disappointments. To resume their profession in their new country, doctors, lawyers, architects, and social workers must receive new training and pass new tests, and they must become fluent in English even to begin this process. One group of Ecuadorian Americans who pursue professional positions has founded an association designed to help individuals form a sense of community and to benefit Page 57  |  Top of Articlefrom their continued associations with each other. The Young Ecuadorian American Professionals Business Association (YEAP) is based in South Florida, and it serves its members by sustaining relations and network connections among them.

Overall, the median income for Ecuadorian Americans aged sixteen and older in 2007 was $21,655, according to Pew Research. This level is representative of the median earnings for U.S. Hispanics during the same period ($21,048). A considerable percentage of Ecuadorian Americans do own homes (41.8 percent), but this number is still lower than that of U.S. Hispanics in general (49.9 percent of whom own homes) and the U.S. population in general (67.2 percent).

Of particular note is one group of Ecuadorian immigrants to the United States whose close ties to their home community have not only maintained their sense of identity and purpose but have made them a success story in the United States: The Otavaleño Indians have made a unique contribution to the American economy and society. Living in the northern sierra near the modern town of Otavalo, this group has preserved its economic role—woven textile goods for sale to outsiders—since before the Incan conquest of their land.

Otavaleños are both weavers and farmers, and whereas the land redistribution created challenges for some Ecuadorians and caused them to immigrate to the United States, the Otavaleños actually benefited from the passage of this law. They left their workshops and took their weaving home. Otavaleños were determined to no longer allow others to reap the benefits of their skilled labor and traditions. Returning to a pre-Incan model, they sent members of their own community to other countries to market their woven goods. While other Indian communities practice traditional weaving, the Otavaleños are unique in their resourcefulness and success in selling their wares, without middlemen, on the international market.

In small factories in or near Otavalo, the Indians make heavy woolen sweaters, ponchos, hats, and blankets, all in bright colors with traditional designs. They send these items to Quito and other South American cities; to Mexico City, New York, and other North American cities; and to Europe and Asia to be sold by street vendors. At any given time six thousand Otavaleños, or 10 percent of the whole community, live abroad as itinerant vendors. The sellers may be the grown children of the manufacturer who are working in the family business and seeing the world at the same time. Even if they are not related, all the people involved are Otavaleño. The profits do not leave the community.

Otavaleño street vendors in New York, though relatively few in number (about three hundred by one estimate), are highly visible, with their traditional dress and appearance in outdoor shopping areas such as Canal Street. The men wear their long straight hair in braids and wear blue ponchos and white pants. The women wear embroidered white blouses, red wristbands, and heavy dark wraps around their shoulders and skirts. Otavaleño clothing is very traditional; in fact, the women's clothing has changed only slightly from the time of the Inca. The appearance that Otavaleño peddlers project helps them to sell their inventory, because it adds to the perceived authenticity of their products.

The outfit an Otavaleño peddler would wear in the streets of New York is not necessarily what he or she would wear at home. Furthermore, the product sold is not timeless and unchanging. Each year Otavaleño street vendors send home samples of the latest fashions, and the manufacturers make changes in style and color, even introducing new products, such as headbands. Many of the street vendors hold licenses from the city whereas others are unlicensed. Some sellers cannot afford the license fee whereas others only intend to stay in the city for a short time and so do not buy the license. Laws against unlicensed street selling are often only loosely enforced, but at times such street vendors must face having all their goods confiscated by the police. Furthermore, like all people who do business out of doors, Otavaleño merchants must operate within the complex and risky society of the street. They are subject to the whims of police, the maze of city regulations, the unwritten laws of those who sell clothes, food, stolen goods, sex, and drugs, and the extortionists and predators of the street. But the international marketing of their clothes has brought the Otavaleños great rewards.

Most Otavaleños abroad ultimately return home, often to attend university and enter a profession. Otavaleños have become wealthy and influential in their home province; indeed, the mestizo community of Otavalo is poorer than that of the Otavaleño Indians. The Otavaleños tend to convert their earnings into education and opportunities for their children.

Chinese Ecuadorians One small but significant segment of the Ecuadorian American community is that of Chinese Ecuadorians. People from southern China immigrated in the nineteenth century to every American country, including Ecuador. When Ecuadorians began immigrating to the United States in large numbers, after the mid-1960s, many Chinese Ecuadorians joined the migration—probably in greater numbers proportionate to their numbers in the general Ecuadorian population. This was partly because the Chinese Ecuadorians had shallower roots in Ecuador than others and had experienced discrimination there, and partly because New York, where most Ecuadorians went, had a large and established Chinese community. Today there are Page 58  |  Top of Articleseveral thousand Chinese Ecuadorians in the United States, about 1 percent of the Ecuadorian American community. Chinese Ecuadorians are more likely to be in commerce or the professions than other Ecuadorians but in general are not demographically different from the rest of the community. Most have some familiarity with both Chinese and Spanish but are more fluent in Spanish. They typically live in Latino neighborhoods, not Chinese ones, and most live in New York City.


In general, Ecuadorian Americans are not very active politically, either at home or in their adopted country. Ecuador does not encourage its expatriates to cast absentee ballots in elections at home. While taking a keen interest in the news from home (Ecuadorian newspapers in the United States carried extensive news and analysis of the 1995 border hostilities between Ecuador and Peru, for example), this group of immigrants seldom organizes around specific policy issues at home. At the same time, few Ecuadorian Americans are U.S. citizens with the right to vote in the United States. This trend has limited their capacity to be influential in U.S. politics, but because many Ecuadorians plan to return home one day, they do not concern themselves much with U.S. politics.

One of the few legislative acts for which Ecuadorian Americans actively lobbied was the passage, in Ecuador, of a dual-citizenship law. The Ecuadorian congress passed the measure in response to vigorous and coordinated efforts by the Ecuadorian American organizations—in particular, by the New York umbrella group Comite Cívico Equatoriano. Because of the passage of this bill, Ecuadorian Americans no longer have to choose between being Ecuadorian citizens or American citizens but can embrace both sides of their identities.

Because Ecuadorian Americans are frequently more closely connected to their villages or cities of origin than they are to Ecuador as a nation, when Ecuadorian Americans do take a political stand, it is often linked to their region of origin. Costeños tend to be liberal while serranos are conservative. This difference can be seen in the different attitudes in serrano immigrant neighborhoods in Queens and costeño neighborhoods in the Bronx. Overall, however, Ecuadorians from all regions are socially conservative by U.S. standards. For instance, they are among the most outspoken proponents of the death penalty, long an topic of controversy in the state of New York.

One other notable area of political interest and activity for Ecuadorian Americans is labor unions. Because Ecuador itself fosters a more dynamic activist labor culture, Ecuadorian Americans who work under less than ideal conditions or who earn less than minimum wage frequently seek alternative avenues for ameliorating their undesirable working circumstances. These endeavors, however, sometimes fail, which can lead them to become disillusioned and apathetic.

In general, though, Ecuadorian Americans are a noncitizen, nonvoting community. Many Ecuadorian New Yorkers live in state legislative districts with Latino majorities, but politicians, tend to focus attention on the needs of Puerto Ricans and other voting Latinos. Noncitizens become ever more vulnerable as politicians across the nation advocate anti-immigrant measures. Concern over such measures is now prompting more Ecuadorians to file for citizenship, especially because they can do so without relinquishing their Ecuadorian citizenship and allegiances.


Because large-scale migration from Ecuador to the United States began only relatively recently, there are not many famous Ecuadorian Americans. There are, however, Ecuadorians who have made a mark on American society.

Art Oswaldo Guayasamín (1919–1999), born to an Indian father and a mestizo mother, forged a powerful art that addresses what it means to be Indian, to be mestizo, and to be Ecuadorian. His semiabstract paintings are generally figurative and feature the rugged faces and bodies of Indians at work or at home; they often illustrate scenes from Ecuadorian history and express his leftist views, his spirit of protest, and his sense of sadness at social injustice. His work is internationally acclaimed and has been exhibited all over the world.

In 1988 Guayasamín caused controversy in the United States by painting a mural in the Ecuadorian hall of Congress. One of the panels in the mural—intended to summarize Ecuador's history—showed a skull in a helmet, with the letters CIA. Despite his frustration with aspects of American policy, Guayasamín lived in the United States during the 1950s, when Nelson Rockefeller arranged an official invitation for him to come to the United States. He lived for several years with his family in the Bayside neighborhood of Queens, New York. In 1960, however, a visit to Communist China earned him official hostility in the United States, and he returned with his family to Ecuador.

Lady Pink (1964–) was born Sandra Fabara in Ambato, Ecuador. She grew up in Queens (New York City) and began expressing herself through graffiti around the age of fifteen after her boyfriend was exiled to Puerto Rico following an arrest. She integrated her boyfriend's name into her tagging label, and her nickname is derived from a number of influences, including her love of England, especially during the Victorian period, and her enthrallment with historical romances as well as the British aristocracy. A student Page 59  |  Top of Articleof the High School of Art and Design in Manhattan, she soon made a name for herself as a renowned female artist in a field dominated by males. Lady Pink's work was featured in 1980 in the New York show “GAS: Graffiti Art Success,” and her efforts in decorating subway trains from 1979 to 1985 earned her accolades that launched her film career (in the movie Wild Style, 1983). Her work is featured in museums across the world, and her works on canvas are now considered collectors' pieces.

Journalism Cecilia Alvear was born in the Ecuadorian village of Baquerizo Moreno, and she loved books from a young age. She immigrated to the United States in 1965 and as a journalist covered major wars in the 1980s, including military skirmishes in El Salvador and Nicaragua. She was one of twelve journalists awarded a prestigious Nieman Fellowship at Harvard University, where she spent the academic year of 1988–1989. She has had a long career in broadcast journalism, primarily working for NBC, and she is the former president of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists. Alvear became a U.S. citizen in 1984 but continued to frequently return to the Galapagos Islands to work on a project to benefit the public elementary school first started by her father, Alejandro Alvear, the former military governor of the islands. She is viewed as an inspiration to Latino Americans who wish to pursue a career in journalism or broadcasting.

Business One Ecuadorian American who made an important contribution to American business is Napoleon Barragan, founder of Dial-a-Mattress in Queens, New York. Recognizing that speed and convenience matter the most to some people, he sold mattresses over the telephone and delivered them immediately. In 1994 his business was the ninth largest minority-owned business in the New York area.

Music The pop singer Christina Aguilera (1980–) is of Ecuadorian descent. She gained prominence as a Star Search contestant in 1990 and was a member of The Mickey Mouse Club (1993–1994) with Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears. Her self-titled debut album had three number one singles: “Genie in a Bottle,” “What a Girl Wants,” and “Come on Over, Baby.” She has currently released seven albums, all of which have been commercial successes and have solidified her international reputation. Along with her singing and other successes, she has been appointed as a United Nations ambassador and is extremely concerned with global human rights issues. She has earned a Golden Globe, four Grammy Awards, a Latin Grammy Award, and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. She has also earned the George McGovern Leadership Award for her philanthropic efforts.

Politics In 1993 Ecuadorian immigrant Aida González (1962–) was named director of cultural

Ecuadorian American Andres Gomez plays during the French Open in Paris. Ecuadorian American Andres Gomez plays during the French Open in Paris. DAN SMITH / GETTY IMAGES

affairs to Queens borough president Claire Shulman; she is one of a handful of Ecuadorian New Yorkers who are acquiring power and influence in the Democratic Party.

Sports Probably the most famous Ecuadorian athlete is Andrés Gómez (1960–), the world-class tennis player; many of his great matches have been played in the United States, and he has been a source of inspiration to Ecuadorian Americans and all lovers of tennis. He won the men's singles title at the French Open in 1990, and during his career from 1979 to 1992, he won twenty-one singles tournaments and thirty-three doubles titles.

Another important Ecuadorian tennis player is Francisco “Pancho” Segura (1921–), who has made the United States his home. An unorthodox but highly successful player in his youth, Segura surprised the professional tennis world with his powerful two-fisted forehand; the former tennis director at the La Costa Resort and Spa in Southern California, he retired from pro tennis and coached both Jimmy Connors and Andre Agassi.


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Various weekly, monthly, or occasional newspapers have been produced and distributed to the Ecuadorian American community in New York. Most do not last long. Magazines and daily and weekly newspapers from Quito and Quayaquil are also available at newsstands in Queens, with a lagtime of several days. These are rather expensive and do not contain local news or advertisements.

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El Diario

For most of their local, national, and international news, Ecuadorian Americans rely on the general Spanish-speaking press, especially New York's El Diario. This paper was originally founded for a Puerto Rican readership, but in recent decades, the growing New York population of Ecuadorians, Colombians, Cubans, and Dominicans has forced the New York Spanish press to broaden its focus. This paper now contains news from various Latin American countries, as well as local news that is relevant to the new arrivals.

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Susan DeCarava
One Metrotech Center
18th Floor
Brooklyn, New York 11201

Ecuador News

One of the most prominent newspapers in the Ecuadorian American community.

Dr. Marcelo Arboleda Segovia, CEO and Editor in Chief
64-03 Roosevelt Avenue
2nd Floor
Woodside, New York 11377
Phone: (718) 205-7014
Fax: (718) 205-6580


There are several radio shows in the New York area geared toward Ecuadorian Americans.

WADO-AM (1280)

Broadcasts Presencia Ecuatoriana(Ecuadorian Presence), a talk show discussing news, art, sports, and culture from Ecuador, hosted by Homero Melendez, president of the Tungurahua regional association on Sundays from 2:00 to 3:00 p.m. Its online address is:


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Alianza Ecuatoriana Tungurahua

M. Vargas
465 Forty-First Street
Brooklyn, New York 11232
Phone: (718) 854-1506

Comite Cívico Ecuatoriana

Oswaldo Guzman
41-42 102nd Street
2nd Floor
Corona, New York 11368
Phone: (718) 476-3832

Young Ecuadorian American Professionals

A nonprofit based in South Florida that provides networking opportunities for Ecuadorian American professionals.

Jimmy Chang, President


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UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability

Center for Tropical Research–Ecuador

Kelvin Fan, CTR Office Manager
La Kretz Hall
Suite 300 619 Charles E. Young Drive East
Los Angeles, California 90095-1496
Phone: (310) 206-6234

Ecuador Field School

Valentina Martinez
416 Bellefield Hall
University of Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15260
Florida Atlantic University
Department of Anthropology
777 Glades Road
Boca Raton, Florida 33431
Phone: (561) 297-0084

Latin American Network Information Center

The University of Texas at Austin

Carolyn Palaima, Project Director
LANIC Teresa Lozano Long Institute of Latin American
Studies SRH 1.310
1 University Station D0800
Austin, Texas 78712

Latin American Studies Association, Ecuadorian Studies Section

Phone: (412) 648-7929
Fax: (412) 624-7145


De la Torre, Carlos, and Steve Striffler. The Ecuador Reader: History, Culture, and Politics. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2009.

Handelsman, Michael. Culture and Customs of Ecuador. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2000.

Perrottet, Tony, ed. Insight Guide: Ecuador. New York: Apa Publications, 1994.

Pineo, Ronn F. Ecuador and the United States: Useful Strangers. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2007.

Pribilsky, Jason. La Chulla Vida: Gender, Migration and the Family in Andean Ecuador and New York City. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 2007.

Source Citation

Source Citation   

Gale Document Number: GALE|CX3273300066