jueves, 27 de marzo de 2014

Quito Seen by a Kid: City of Coup, and Politics

Coup! Politics! Those were the key words to remember in several periods of our History. However, I would like to remember a specific one: The day before the fall of President José María Velasco Ibarra, in Tuesday, November 7, 1961.

I remember the great demonstrations promoted by former allies, months before. You could not walk around freely because suddenly you may be involved in a big strike. Sometimes they erupted at night and the mounted police appeared menacing with their sabers. Of course there were some tricks, for example to throw marbles between the hulls of the horses so they slipped and the riders lost balance. All looked very funny and many of the young people were there just for the amusement, despite the danger.

Because, in fact, it was dangerous, specially when in our neighborhood the students of the Universidad Central (Central University) started firing at the police and it answered alike.

The day prior to the fall of the President -all schools have been closed for a while- a group of friends met at the house of one of us, just in the corner of the street that became the ‘battle field’. When fire started we went to the terrace, say a third floor. The police below spotted us but they soon discovered that we were simple onlookers; nevertheless they stared at us once in a while.

It seemed to us that the armed students had some Mauser rifles, the very ones used by the police, and they were three streets far and uphill from the corner where we were, so we could hear the firing just perfectly. Furthermore, some bullets were hitting against the walls and the balconies of the houses placed in their shooting range. So it was too dangerous leave the house and go out, worse still to cross the street. But it was exactly what happened next: A lady, dressed in a very red garment started to walk, despite police advise to stop and return. She walked a few paces before a bullet hit her and fell and started to bleed profusely. It was shocking. After that, all of us went down indoors until night, when police took control. We never knew what happened to the lady, although next day papers talked about deaths and injured people.

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