Ecuador Infrastructure – A Current Snapshot

Nothing often speaks a higher volume about the relative progress of a nation, or lack thereof, than the current state of its infrastructure.  In fact, some great world powers, such as India, are routinely plagued by a lack of sufficient infrastructure advancement, routinely lagging the infrastructure.  Recent evidence suggests that investment inflows into India have slowed dramatically, as the infrastructure bottle neck continues.

Other great nations, which one were ahead of the infrastructure curve, such as the USA, have failed to modernize a once cutting edge infrastructure network.  Think about it.  When was the last time the USA built a great and extensive highway project?  How old are the water and sewer systems underneath many of the USA’s great cities?   When was the last time the USA extensively studied and revitalized its public education system?  Infrastructure must constantly be nurtured and cared for, like a cultivated garden, lest the “weeds” begin to choke off the progress.

Ecuador is no exception.  Its development lifeline is the evolution of its infrastructure.  A review of even recent past history suggests a nation in struggle, but fortunately for Ecuador expats, the events of the last 6 years have dramatically turned the infrastructure tide, into a positive and sustainable trend.  This report endeavors to provide a brief glimpse  of Ecuador’s infrastructure progress.

First, at least a loose definition of “infrastructure” needs to be established.  Unfortunately, many times the concept of “infrastructure” is viewed through an all too narrow and limiting prism.  Sure, infrastructure is definitely, potable water, sewer, electric and roadways.  These are the commonly recognized components of infrastructure development.  However, the true scope of infrastructure evolution, when practiced appropriately by national governments, entails so much more.  For example, arguably any and all of the following are also a part of a nation’s core infrastructure network:  schools, medical facilities, bridges, and police/fire services.  Our analysis of Ecuador will briefly look at all these components.

Ecuador was a nation in turmoil, just 14 years ago.  A collapsed currency, a banking system in crisis, a real GDP economic decline and an infrastructure system, which lay ignored for 50 years.  That is why it is said there is opportunity in crisis. If you go back 14 years, Ecuador was a “blood in the streets” investment only.  About 5 years ago, it became a mainstream value play, for the “early bird” savvy crowd.  Today, it remains arguably one of the top 3 relatively best investment values in the world.

Much of what rescued Ecuador was a deep socio, political and economic analysis, brought about by the crisis of 1998.  The dollarization of the Ecuadorian economy was a much needed brief respite, although one could argue even then, it was a bit like going from the fire to the frying pan.  Today, I wouldn’t blame anyone for feeling like we have come full circle, back to the fire, given the levels of USA debt and what this portends for the future of the USA dollar.  Still, with the Euro an equal or greater disaster, coupled with the absence of an immediately viable global currency, Ecuador’s U.S. dollar play should be recognized as a masterstroke on the way to economic recovery.

The aforementioned socio, political and economic analysis in Ecuador gave way to a new energy, national will and desired direction.  Ecuadorians well understood that there was nothing “magical” about the new U.S. dollar currency.  If they went back to the ways of old, they would likely wind up in just another economic crisis in the near future.  They, instead, opted for a new direction.

The new direction that Ecuador selected was that heralded by now President Rafael Correa, a USA educated economist, with an MS degree from the University of Illinois.  While the entire scope of Correa’s national vision goes way beyond the parameters of this report, his vision included a rapid overhaul of the dormant and decayed infrastructure of Ecuador.  An infrastructure which had laid largely neglected for at least 50 years.  The Correa Administration embarked on a massive public works campaign, with an extensive infrastructure renovation and creation program, which on a relatively comparable basis, mimicked the “infrastructure boom” seen in the USA at the onset of the Industrial Revolution and, again, in the immediate post-World War II era.  The results in Ecuador have been breathtaking, with a newly invigorated infrastructure sector, expansive domestic job creation and an impressive economic expansion.  Below, each major infrastructure sector is briefly reviewed, as a snapshot of where Ecuador’s vast progress has taken it, today.

Potable water: Even in the city centers, prior to the Correa Infrastructure Initiative, potable water was found only in 82% of municipalities.  While way ahead of traditional “Third World” nations, this was not a viable statistic for a nation that was looking to modernize into standards of the 21st Century.  Even worse, the rural municipalities saw numbers significantly below the aforementioned figure, although exact figures are hard to categorize, since government data was sporadic and relied mostly on uneven local data collection and processing.  This was all made worse by an utter reliance on federal government funding, with no effort made at recouping the costs at a local level.

Today, since the infrastructure reforms of President Correa, Ecuador’s potable water numbers stand at 96% for urban areas, and an 89% accessibility figure for improved potable water supplies in the rural areas.  However, this latter rural figure, while a vast improvement over previous available data, is tempered by a still very respectable 73% figure for true “piped on premises” potable water.  The advances, in a short 6 year period of time, have been nothing less than impressive.  However, much work remains within Ecuador, regarding potable water.  For example, only 8% of all collected wastewater is being actively treated.  Also, the levels of “non-revenue potable water” (that produced but “lost” prior to reaching the end user), still stands at a challenging 65%!  These items are a priority for the Correa Administration, moving forward, as is a continuation of the trend where local municipality initiatives are funding potable water projects, instead of 100% full reliance on federal government funding.  The trend, while still evolving, cannot be currently looked at as anything except having a positive outlook.

Public sewers: Improved sewer sanitation figures have risen from a pre-Correa figure of 77% to a 96% urban sector success, in the post-Correa infrastructure reforms era.  Quite a long jump, in a scant 6 year period.  Corresponding before and after figures for the rural districts are 53% pre-Correa programs and a current figure of 79% of household now enjoying improved services.  This latter rural figure is a particularly amazing improvement,  when one considers that Correa inherited a rural sanitation system that as recently as 2004 was deemed to be 38% collapsed, 20% seriously damaged, 29% somewhat damaged and only 13% considered fully sustainable in what had been the current condition.  That is what 50 years of infrastructure inertia will do for you.

If one looks at “piped to premises” full public sewer penetration, one finds that the urban areas enjoy a 72% penetration rate, while the rural areas show a 53% penetration rate.  Both figures represent jumps of over 20% from the basis prior to the Correa Administration reforms, even using conservative data.  Once again, one sees a positive outlook infrastructure development in Ecuador.  Still, much room exists to improve coordination between federal government agencies and the local authorities responsible for enhancing access to public sewer.  Clearly, the rural areas still have quite a bit of catching up to do.  The positive outlook remains firm, but also evolving.  The need for long-term sustainability programs is paramount and a top-priority of the Correa Administration.

Electric service: An immediate conversation starter to any discussion of electric service in Ecuador must begin with the consideration that 42.55% of the installed electrical capacity in Ecuador is directly provided by hydro-electric power.  That means that during unusual and infrequent drought periods, the Ecuador power grid can suffer.  This exact event occurred in late 2009, lasting for a 3 month period between November 209 and January 2010.  It generated a rolling blackout scenario, with some regions going for 2 consecutive hours without power and others for as long as 6 hours.

Still, despite this rare, but recent, shortcoming, 96.09% of the renewable energy capacity in Ecuador is hydro-electric power.  The Correa government has launched a bold 2020 plan, to achieve 86% installed capacity for hydro-electric energy, an almost doubling of the existing numbers.  The 40-year “freak drought” of 2009, taught the Correa Administration and the country of Ecuador much about water management, the need to maintain a significant back up generation system (since purchased) and to better plan for readily switching to alternative energy sources, during future droughts, as they may occur.

At the end of the day, electric capacity has seen an upswing of over 20%, during the Correa Reforms Era, with penetration to rural areas exceeding those numbers, and central coordination and planning showing vast improvements.  While Ecuador remains a net power importer, current projections show a strong upsurge in production through 2020, with electric energy production figures expected to surge between 30%-40%, from current levels.  Overall, a positive outlook remains in play, for the future of Ecuador’s electric sector.

Road network: Three words.  Ruta del Sol.  Literal translation – Route of the Sun.  If that had been the Correa administration’s loan accomplishment in road construction, it would still have been deemed a feat of excellence.  However, it was just one of many critical road networks developed under the Correa government, in a brief period of time.

The Ruta del Sol (now, by the way, rechristened the Ruta de Spondylus, with the literal translation of “Route of a really ugly crustacean” – never going to hear me call it that) was initiated as a superb highway connecting almost the northernmost tip of Ecuador’s coastal frontier, to literally almost the southernmost tip of Ecuador’s coastal expanse.  Instantly, what had been, until then, a limited access coastal wonderland, became a readily accessible tourism “hot spot”, with dozens of beachfront towns springing up across Ecuador, to entertain both domestic and foreign visitors.  Ecuador’s exotically beautiful beaches were soon opened up for all to gaze, wander and enjoy, thus making Ecuador the only country in South America with truly gorgeous Pacific Ocean beaches that were also readily accessible via an organized system of roadways.  Keep in mind, for all my friends from beautiful Colombia, that the premiere, accessible beaches in Colombia are Caribbean beaches, not Pacific Ocean side beaches.

One could argue that none of Ecuador’s infrastructure sectors was more ignored in the 50 years prior to President Correa than the road network.  Mud roads, in the tradition of what can readily still be found in Belize and Costa Rica today, were the order of the day for Ecuador.  Many sierra towns did not connect to each other, much less the beautiful Pacific coast.  Where semi-paved roads existed, the potholes could swallow a Buick.  It was not a pretty sight, let alone much fun to tour.  Against this backdrop, the Correa Administration dumped $800 million of road improvements into the economy of Ecuador, literally tripling the previous road construction rate in only his first 3 years in office.  Domestic employment, tourism dollars and the construction sector all flourished, as did the rural agrarian sector, which was now able to bring product to market and for international export, with much greater ease and efficiency.

Some have said that the road to Correa’s presidential success is, quite literally, the enviable success of his road construction program.  With the outlook in this infrastructure sector nothing but positive, including a 2011 pledge to up the ante and invest a total of $5 billion in new road infrastructure, Ecuador’s economy appears poised to ride a freshly paved the road to success.

Bridge network: President Correa inherited a country with mostly dilapidated or altogether nonexistent bridges.   More than 50 years of neglect and inertia had virtually ground major bridge infrastructure construction to a standstill.  Entire sections of the country did not have strategic interconnectivity.

Since the Correa Administration, a new urgency has taken root with regard to bridge construction.  Just a partial list of bridges overseen by the Correa government, includes:

  • The Atirantado Bridge in Quevedo
  • The Rio Pastaza Bridge in Baños
  • The Rio Napo Bridge
  • The bridge over the Copueno River
  • The bridge over the Catamayo River
  • The bridge over the Angel River in Carchi
  • The Guayallabamba Bridge
  • The Rio Chice Bridge
  • The Rio Esmeraldas Bridge
  • The Cascales Bridge in the Amazonas region
  • The Unity Bridge in Ambateña
  • The National Unity Bridge in Guayaquil
  • The Bridge over the Upano River
  • The Rio Chota Bridge
  • The bridge connecting Rio Verde and Palestina
  • The Segmental Bridge crossing the Babahoyo River in Durán
  • The Napo River Bridge in Orellana
  • The bridge known as Puente Internacional, connecting Ecuador and Colombia, and
  • The grandaddy of them all, the Los Caras Bridge, crossing the River Chone and linking Bahia de Caraquez with St. Vincente (the longest bridge in Ecuador)

Currently, plans exist to update additional bridges and to build new ones, under Correa’s previously mentioned massive $5 billion road network program.  The sector’s future outlook, for the first time in more than 50 years, looks extremely positive.

Schools & universities: To say that President Correa has undertaken a top-to-bottom overhaul of the public education system, still seems like an understatement.  One has to understand the sorry state of the system, when Correa took office.  In fact, the examples are so numerous of the systemic failure, it is almost difficult to know just where to begin.

However, perhaps nothing is more telling than to highlight that Ecuador had no formal testing or qualifications system for its national teachers – not at the grade school, high school or university levels.  The system was less merit-based than one of “who you might know” at the school administrative level.  Since then, the systemic testing of teachers has been implemented, with pay linked directly to test results.  More so, for those teachers failing the tests, they have a maximum period of time within which they must receive accreditation, or permanently face the loss of their career position.

In addition to the preceding, President Correa has endowed the education sector with dramatically increased public spending, raising the GDP % from 2.5% in 2006 to 6% of GDP in 2013.  The teachers that have met the new stringent testing and qualification requirements have also seen payroll rise by 25%.

Furthermore, students from throughout the country have received medical and nutritional assistance, in addition to the “free lunch” and uniforms program.  This attention to student detail has newly endowed Ecuador with the lowest illiteracy rate amongst all Andean region nations.

Correa pressed forward with a successfully ambitious school renovation and construction program, which witnessed the swift renovation or building of 5,000 schools throughout Ecuador, including in many rural towns and villages, which previously had no direct access to a local school.

In Correa’s Ecuador, university students are now receiving a free, merit-based scholarship education, at full government expense, for the world’s top universities, including Harvard, Oxford, Stanford, London School of Economics, and the Sorbonne.   Soon, students will have less of a need to seek the highest quality of education, outside of Ecuador, with the creation of a new national high-tech research complex, dubbed Yachay – City of Knowledge (covered in a separate report), under construction just outside of Quito, as well as a new national education university, to be located just north of Cuenca.  The latter is designed to provide world-class training to school administrators, policy makers and teachers, from primary school through the university graduate levels. The government has begun to recruit educators from other countries and announced in October 2012, the hiring of more than 100 Ph.D.-level professors from Spain.

Overall, the Correa Administration has reenergized the education sector of Ecuador, with scholastic enrollment now mandatory by age 5 and with a level of gross enrollment, which has seen a 10% jump overall and an over 20% jump at the primary level.  To suggest that such a rapid improvement is just shy of miraculous is no hyperbole, as we definitely portend a strong positive future trend for this infrastructure sector.

Medical & health: In the pre-Correa era severe needs in healthcare plagued Ecuador, including lack of hospitals, doctors that worked when they wanted, poor rural penetration of even basic medical care and absolutely no modernity and upgrading at hospitals and health clinics.  The sorry state of affairs was concisely summed up by the World Health Organization (WHO), which retroactively has stated, “The government funds 47% of outpatient and hospital services in the nation, in addition to the nation’s largest hospitals for referrals. But by WHO standards, there should be between 8 and 10 hospital beds available per thousand people. The number of available beds in the Ecuadorian hospital system was only 1.7 per thousand; many hospitals remain at full capacity.”

Against this backdrop, a newly elected President Correa vowed to massively increase the health budget; to dramatically increase the production and distribution of medicine; to create preventive health campaigns; to significantly increase the number of public doctors and nurses; and to implement mobile medical brigades.  His goal was to plow a whopping $5.3 billion into health care reform.

Signs of progress emerged when the healthcare budget saw a sharp increase from $561 million in 2006 to $1,774 million in 2012, which is now 6.8% of the national budget.  The Ecuadorian government also signed an agreement with the Cuban government to allow public company Enfarma to massively produce medicine at low cost.  Furthermore, working hours for doctors were increased to 40 hours/week and their salaries were also increased. Mobile hospitals have been rapidly created.  An economic incentive program has been introduced to persuade the return of medics amongst Ecuadorian emigrants.

The Ecuadorian government has also personally built 18 hospitals and 250 health centers across the nation, including many health clinics in rural towns and villages, which previously lacked access to basic healthcare, making primary healthcare, especially preventive treatment, more accessible to the poor.  The Correa administration has also hired more doctors to support the country’s growing Social Security health care system, which saw a 300% expansion, including the addition of new community facilities, latest high-tech medical equipment and the creation of state-of-the-art regional hospitals. Notably, expats under the age of 60 have the option to buy in to the Social Security insurance program for less than US$70 per month!

Due to such advances, Ecuador has already achieved remarkable progress in healthcare. One area, child mortality rates, can be cited as an example. To adequately analyze this progress, it is important to give context because of the diminishing returns that inevitably come as countries reach lower mortality rates. Ecuador began the period, starting in the year 2000, slightly ahead of its peers: mortality rates were 2 to 3 percent lower in Ecuador than in the overall group. But these gaps have continued to widen, both in absolute and relative terms. By 2010, Ecuador’s infant and child mortality rates had fallen to nine and 12 percent, respectively, below the group average.

Despite the significant advantages ushered in by the Correa Administration, Ecuador still needs decades of increased investment in health care to reach an appropriate level, but plethora of current data on the substantial progress made under Correa, indicates a strongly positive trend for Ecuador’s medical infrastructure.

Police & fire services: Police and fire services had been reasonably advanced in major cities, but rudimentary, at best, elsewhere, during the Pre-Correa period.  Police/Fire sub-stations, where they even existed, were dilapidated and not worthy of being occupied. Equipment was old, training near non-existent and morale low.  Even worse, both police and fire services – but especially police – were highly susceptible to the politics of local patronage.

Correa took office and immediately declared the modernization, training and specialization of these critical forces, a matter of top-priority.  He immediately identified the need to separate the functions of the police into four areas: narcotics, border, transit and public safety, while recognizing the need to enhance fire fighter training, based on the best global service practices. Additionally, partially to address existing morale and partially to attract better skilled and educated cadets, Correa proposed to increase salaries and improve the physical condition of Police/Fire buildings and structures. Finally, Correa pushed for the creation  of a public safety ministry, to better coordinate professional activities and secure public safety.

Immediate successes and results could be seen.  The Correa administration successfully completed an accelerated restructuring of the National Police.  The traffic-focused,Transito Police was born, to ensure traffic safety and cut down on an extremely high traffic accident rate.  Local area Fire departments were paired with international “sister-city” Fire departments to ensure proper training of best practices and the newest fire-fighting techniques.  For example, quite ironically, my local Salinas Fire Department is paired with the Chicago Fire Department (CFD), which was my home town, when I lived in the USA.  So, I routinely get to see and interact with members of the CFD, who train our local fire fighters.  Additionally, new trucks and ladder equipment, better suited to address the increasing number of Ecuadorian high-rises were purchased for fire departments throughout Ecuador.  In fact, in total, the police and firefighters have received thousands of new official cars, to replace the previously dilapidated fleets.

However, the greatest majors changes probably are three other accomplishments, not even mentioned, yet.  First, the Correa Administration has built and/or renovated over 50 police sub-stations and fire stations, each, throughout Ecuador. The communities receive more functional buildings and services and the public servants receive more decent, humane and habitable accommodations.  A definite win-win!

Secondly, the Correa government has extensively expanded the mandatory scope and quality of professional training & education, for both Police and Fire forces.  This has led to increased professionalism, better response times and a more successful service rate, for each of the specific departments.

Finally, the Correa Administration implemented a zero tolerance policy on bribes or gifting to professional Police and Fire personnel. Patronage had been alive and well, but now has been completely eradicated or greatly curtailed, depending on the specific locale within the country of Ecuador.  Such actions have restored the faith in the regional communities, and increased their support, for their local Police and Fire departments.

Still, despite these successes, much work remains to be done in terms of response times (especially in remote rural areas), the technological upgrading of equipment, and the full eradication of the patronage system.  In the final analysis, however, the Correa Administration has ushered in a new era of modernity and professionalism, clearing setting this infrastructure sector on a path to a positive outlook and exceptional progress.

In closing this report, I merely wish to observe that despite the tremendous improvements, in such a short period of time, accomplished by the Correa Administration, literally across most infrastructure sectors, much remains to be done and an exceptional, near unprecedented opportunity exists for the commitment of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) to come in and not so much lead the change, but augment the already substantial and successful progress achieved.  Over 50 years of poor management, no matter how well addressed, cannot b eradicated in 5-6 years.  The need for FDI, present and for the foreseeable future, is clearly a priority for Ecuador, which strongly merits a “boots on the ground” consideration from the global investment community.  Relying on third-part anecdotal data or, worse, stale press coverage, has never been the method by which capitalist entities have ushered in progress, innovation and financial success. Ecuador should be no exception.  I guarantee that a “boots on the ground” experience will generate perspectives far different from those all too commonly held, by many entities that could benefit greatly from contributing FDI to Ecuador and, through which cooperation, Ecuador and its people would benefit greatly.  It would be almost remiss of me not to conclude a report on the infrastructure sector, without saying that we are traveling well on the road towards success in Ecuador, and that additional FDI would best bridge Ecuador’s humble past and its dynamic future.

If you have any questions regarding the topic(s) covered in this article, or have an interest in pursuing more information about FDI opportunities in Ecuador, please contact: Hector G. Quintana, email:, or call +1.786.220.4987 (global).

About the Author: EscapeArtist Ecuador is a new section we’ll be launching around August, 2013. There you will be able to read more articles about so many facets of life and adventure in Ecuador, as well as contact our partner as well as subscribe to their upcoming newsletter. We’ll post more articles when we are ready to launch the new site.

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  1. Ruth Cassidy July 14, 2013 at 5:49 pm

    Very helpful information – we bought in Cuenca last month and look forward to relocating. Any info you might have would be much appreciated. THANKS!!

  2. Jon wright July 14, 2013 at 10:35 pm

    I have been living in Ecuador for about 10 years, and every time I read an article like this, it makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up. The reason for my response is because of the effect these kind of articles have on this country that I call my home.
    When I first came to Ecuador, the number of Gringos living here were very minimal, as well as being a totally different kind of expat than those who are now flocking here in droves. By different, I mean they were people looking for a new life, which included a different culture, a different, language, and a much slower pace for everything.We embraced the new culture, and tried to assimilate, and become part of it.
    Unfortunately, the majoriry of the new influx of people are not motivated by the same things. Instead, it is all about money, or more precisely, how cheap they think it will be to live here. They do not embrace the culture, instead they think only of how they can change things to be just like Kansas, or Nebraska, or wherever they left behind to relocate here. They distain the language and extensive culture, opting instead to try and change things to be just like the place they fled because it had just become unbearable. The worst part is that they bring their American sense of entitlement with them as well, which means they not only whine about every inconvenience, but think they are somehow doing Ecuador a huge favor by coming here.
    The results of this BS attitude are quite predictable, as the same results always follow any expat migration to the current ,”cool”, place to invade…..and there have been so many. Here, in Cuenca, for example, the onslaught has raised the cost of food about 50%, the price of properties has at least doubled, as well, and the total cost of living is through the roof. At the same time, wages for Ecuadorans are almost where they were 10 years ago. What this does, of course, is drive what was the middle class into low income existence, as the price for everything has soared while wages stayed just where they were.
    Most of the newcomers know little to nothing about Latino culture, nor do they care to. They don’t know many if any locals, and congregate with the new Gringo herd, and strive to change this society to meet their needs, instead of fitting in with the rich, existing way of life to be found here. I am horrified, on a daily basis, as I read on the gringo website here about Gringo only church services, Gringo restaurants, crystal healing sessions, as well as a myriad of other Gringo activities, meant to make it easy to pretend that Ecuador is just like,”home”, or at the very least, can be made into that image with a little work. The major problem with that theory is, of course, the actual Ecuadorans kinda like the life they had before the onslaught
    The major source of the migration stems from articles spewing misinformation, and blatant lies about what life is like in Ecuador. Telling prospective expats that they can live here for $800 a month, buy a new condo for $50,000, hire cheap peasant labor to clean your house, and mow your lawn….. And live happily ever after.
    Well, that is not the case. Ten years ago, you could live here very well on a low income, and all of the current lies were pretty much true, but the incoming herd has changed that forever, by driving the prices up on everything.
    A far as investment goes here for expats, this is not the land of golden opportunity, but instead the land of opportunity to lose your money, because there are a bazillion ways to get lost in the process. The Government is different, the laws are different, the pace of life and business are different, and trying to make things work here without a good working knowledge of the language is impossible. Not to mention how risky investment is, because moving money is difficult, expensive, and not a priority of the current administration.
    I guess what I am saying is, if you are thinking about moving here because you think it will be cheap, or because you simply can’t stand having a black man in the White House, or for the reasons written about in more and more articles every day, stay where you are.

    • JERRY July 18, 2013 at 6:34 pm

      Do you mean Gringos in Ecuador are like illegal Latin Americans that come to the US that refuse to teach their children English, create their own neighborhoods, abuse our welfare system, work under the table pay no taxes then send the money out of the country, have their own churches, fill up our prisons, deal drugs, ignore our history, drive uninsured, abuse our medical system, now they want us to change our laws so they can further bankrupt the all ready bankrupt government ?

      • mac September 1, 2014 at 12:14 am

        I think he means they are worse than that. The gringo expats (estadounidenses) have been bringing among other baggage their self-entitled attitude of ‘exceptionalism’ and bigotry which has led to most of the problems now being experienced in the good ol U.S. of A.rrogance. the Latinos immigrating to what was originally their territory are simply evening the score of inequities created by the neoliberal policies of Reagan, Clinton and others called ‘NAFTA’ and the insidiously counter-productive ‘war on drugs’, as well as other U.S. hegemonic atrocities.

    • Clifford Fogleman July 23, 2013 at 2:12 am

      Couldn’t of said it better. Just the 8 months that I have lived here in Manta, with all the Good, Bad, and mostly Indifferent, I would recommend that my Family not come here unless they are ready for a total different way of life and with no reservations on trying to bring their present life here, expecting it to be like the USA. I was a General Contactor in working in the Northwest and I have seen that same process work up there with influx of Californians and Easterners bring there style of Local and State Government, Raising Property Values, and Segregation of the Influent from there purposely working class, and incarcerating the rest.
      I truly wanted to learn and to live Ecuadorian. I had enough of the Entitlement Affect that has somehow made the USA citizens what they hold to be a right, given to them by God or Money. I remember back in the 90’s crossing over to Canada and the Border Crossing would ask my Citizenship and I would say American. Then he would ask me again, till I said I was a Citizen of the United States of America. That’s when I first took a look at myself. The Arrogance of me. Now here in South America, should I still have that right to be American, with all that perceives to inherit. I Hope not for my own relationship to Ecuador’s People.
      I could go on, but thanks for your words that I truly see and believe to be happening, Sorry for my Countrymen…. Ecuador… we’re all not like that…

    • Hector G. Quintana August 7, 2013 at 9:09 pm


      I think you make some good points regarding the motivations some bring with them when they become expats. It is not an “Ecuador thing”, but a global one. If one brings the spirit of integration and assimilation, it is always best. Sometimes – and not making excuses – for those that are not bilingual, it becomes hard. It is too seductive to hang mostly with Expats that share the common language. It then becomes habit. People begin to feed into the often “disinformation-laden” ways that often haunt Expat-centric communities. It feeds on itself. It is a hard cycle to break. You address the content matter well. I am a little confused as to why this type of article “raises the hairs on you neck”, within the context of your intriguing observations. The infrastructure explosion in Ecuador is very real and keeping that a “secret” is not a panacea for the issues you raised. Enjoyed reading your response to my article.

      Hector G. Quintana

  3. Ecuadordean July 19, 2013 at 12:34 pm

    Jon Wright is absolutely right on with this commentary. Ecuador expat or websites trying to promote life in Ecuador are springing up like weeds. One even calls itself and they are doing their best to make life unaffordable for the indigenous people around Cotacachi in the north by giving real estate tours etc. One company is building a retirement/assisted living type of business there. Living at 8000′ is not that great for people in mediocre health. Vilcabamba in ‘the valley of longevity’ has been completely overrun. Next will be the coast? I am curious to see what motive or direction will shown by ‘EcapeArtist Ecuador’

    • Hector G. Quintana August 7, 2013 at 9:19 pm


      Also some good points. I share your concern. In fact, you mentioned two of the three regions in Ecuador where relations between the native Ecuadorian populace and the Expats are most strained – Vilcabamba and Cotacahci. These are realities that many in my core industry, real estate, shun away from addressing. I don’t. It’s valid…it’s real. I concur, my 30 years experience in the industry suggests that a retirement community at 8,000 sf is far from ideal. Plausible…but certainly not ideal. I think you are going to get a lot of COPD and CFH issues up there and would advise anyone thinking of purchasing in such a community to seek professional legal advice, prior to making a real estate acquisition commitment. Lastly, don’t get e started on the “real estate tour” industry. No self-respecting, genuine real estate professional operates tours, with the only stated goal being to “show property”. Any genuine professional will show you more property for free. If these tours offered a value-added service at any level, I could forgive them…maybe even applaud them. However, I haven’t see one that does so yet. People pay more…for less, to go on these tours and, like lemmings, one after another…they do. Caveat Emptor.

      Appreciate your comments.

      Hector G. Quintana

  4. Andre J Cariello July 20, 2013 at 11:32 am

    Hector writes a very insightful article and well researched. Jon Wright experiences the changes of a third world country emerging and too is insightful.

    The true motives of leadership are the unknown. For the country, the people, or they become sideline beneficiaries of the growth that is bound to make the rich richer and the powerful more powerful.

    Expats are not driving up the costs of housing I have been told, but Ecuadorians that have left their country even their families to earn money and buy properties for or upon their return with lined pockets. Smart people, willing to work hard, just not yet able to generate that income in their emerging country. Fact or hearsay?

    Washing clothes in the river, wash machines cost more than a month’s income. Americans will not buy food in the open markets, but food in them is not over priced. Go to malls and Super Maxi’s like a USA Walmart, for sure you will find $$ not $ priced .

    That’s my view from my bridge.

    • Clifford Fogleman July 23, 2013 at 2:23 am

      I have Ecuadorian Friends here in Manta trying to sell there property to Expats for 1 price and to there Natives another at a lot lower price if they feel no Expat will buy it. Not counting when Expats buy and flip the property for a price gouging amount.

      • Hector G. Quintana August 7, 2013 at 9:26 pm


        I like the balance in what you present. It is not a “Gringo thing” or an “Ecuadorian taking advantage thing”…it cuts both ways. Truly, it is a market thing. Supply…demand…and valuation perceptions. Ecuadorians value some parcels of land very differently than a Canadian or USA resident might, as examples. There are varying reasons why, which go beyond the scope of this reply. Might write an article on it. In any case, sometimes it is a failure to recognize comparative global pricing, sometimes it is just a perspective of what has value and not. For example, yes, Ecuadorians value oceanfront property on the coast, but not in the way many Expats crave it. Different perceptions…different valuations. Into that market come sellers and buyers – nationality is not the issue. They see a duality on the market, where different folks value the same parcel differently…and they price accordingly. In my opinion, the key is surrounding yourself with a real estate professional that can provide an objective and empirical analysis, separate from the perception bias elements. Enjoyed reading your post.

        Hector G. Quintana

  5. Hector G. Quintana August 7, 2013 at 9:52 pm


    I think you make some good points regarding the motivations some bring with them when they become expats. It is not an “Ecuador thing”, but a global one. If one brings the spirit of integration and assimilation, it is always best. Sometimes – and not making excuses – for those that are not bilingual, it becomes hard. It is too seductive to hang mostly with Expats that share the common language. It then becomes habit. People begin to feed into the often “disinformation-laden” ways that often haunt Expat-centric communities. It feeds on itself. It is a hard cycle to break. You address the content matter well. I am a little confused as to why this type of article “raises the hairs on you neck”, within the context of your intriguing observations. The infrastructure explosion in Ecuador is very real and keeping that a “secret” is not a panacea. Enjoyed reading your response to my article.

    Hector G. Quintana

  6. David Steckenreiter August 8, 2013 at 7:15 am

    Just a note to begin with, Hector Quintana is a specialist in international real estate with over 30 years in the business. He currently lives in Ecuador and first started doing business there 25 years ago. He is not a ”Johnny come lately” but a professional business man with a well researched and informed background.

    Each of these comments presented are valid. Jon’s concerns about the effect of many articles on Ecuador or Colombia or where ever the ”next best greatest place to live for the least amount of money” generally are true.

    You will find Hectors’ articles to be different. In fact Hector will be the lead contributor to the EscapeArtist Ecuador website. Andre noted that the piece was well researched and this sets this column apart from the great majority of chaff that you will find floating around the internet.

    It is inevitable that foreigners will continue to flock to the Latin American countries. If the Correa government did not want the influx of cash they would change the rather low residency requirements. Jon was absolutely correct that there are ”bazillion” ways to lose your money. This is true in any country where you don’t understand the system. Cliff’s experience that there may be two different prices for real estate is also valid throughout South America.

    The EscapeArtist Ecuador website is almost a reality. It is going to encourage readers to embrace Ecuador and its culture. In fact, some of the site will be in Spanish. The portal will present Ecuador, ”warts and all”. It will be both inciteful and insightful. It will also present ways and means to navigate the issues that Jon has defined. We should be online by the end of August and we invite your continued participation.

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