NMU Student Witnesses Government Overthrow

NMU senior Angie Hewitt spent the waning days of last semester witnessing a government overthrow. Lucio Gutiarrez, Ecuador’s president, was ousted from power in late April after a week of constant, violent public protests. Gutiarrez had reportedly stolen money from the government, put his friends and family into political offices that they were not qualified for, and led a corrupt leadership that the citizens of Ecuador took upon themselves to change.


Hewitt was doing her student teaching in a valley near the city of Quito. She and other teachers were put on lockdown at the school when the protesting reached its peak.

“The major roads to get back into the city were blocked, and the minor roads were already in the process of being blocked, so the school decided to send the students home,” said Hewitt. “After all but about 100 students had left, the teachers were sent to the cafeteria. None of us were allowed to leave.”

Because she taught at a school that was removed from the large downtown protests, Hewitt said she was not afraid of the situation.

“At first it was really no big deal. I was used to all of the political unrest. I had been to a couple of the protests, participated in one of the marches, and had days off of school because of it all. However, I did become scared when there were reports of robberies at Ecuador 's main grocery store chain and kidnappings in the valley where I was. That was followed by this image of someone shooting out of a government building at the crowd, and the crowd starting the building on fire in response. That was unreal and intimidating for me. I knew at that point this was more than just the normal Ecuadorian protest.”


Despite the elevation of the violence, Hewitt was in no immediate danger. Her host family in Quito had relatives who lived close by the school, so in the event of the school being completely evacuated, she would have had somewhere safe to go. Nonetheless, the experience has had a profound effect on her life.


“That day alone made me so much more appreciative of the system we have in the United States," Hewitt reflected. "I think our generation is rather spoiled and doesn't appreciate the government we have. The situation in Ecuador has only encouraged my desire to travel. It has made me so much more appreciative of other cultures, countries and governments.”


After Gutiarrez’s removal, vice president Alfredo Palacio was sworn into office. He is the 10th president Ecuador has had over the last decade. The Brazilian government offered Gutiarrez political asylum. His opponents are working to have him stand trial in Ecuador on corruption charges.


Copyright by the Board of Trustees of Northern Michigan University, 1401 Presque Isle Ave, Marquette, MI 49855 1-800-682-9797
Northern Michigan University is an equal opportunity/affirmative action institution.
Admissions questions | Technical questions | NMU Web Team
Updated: October 26, 2005

NMU logo