America has (nearly) always been the destination of choice for the world's migrants. Spanning an entire continent, the country has historically offered land, jobs, and tolerance to those who seek them. For South Americans especially, the United States had been attractive for its accessibility and welcoming nature, the latter thanks in large part to an American sense of shared interest and history for its other Western Hemisphere/ex-colonial brethren. Ecuadorians have come to the United States for many of the same reasons as other South American immigrants – economics. America's steady growth of demand for low-skilled jobs, particularly in the latter half of the century, has given Ecuadorians an easy in into the country, although this is not always the case, as we shall see (Gratton 580). The focus of this paper will be on those Ecuadorians who came to the United States between the late 1960s into the early 1980s, an era of turmoil both at home and in the U.S.
[...] A nationalist military regime seized power in 1972, nationalizing the oil industry just in time to enjoy the fruits of a worldwide spike in oil prices. Ecuador's economic well-to-do enjoyed unprecedented growth of their wealth and influence, and the government did much to improve the nation's infrastructure. Unfortunately, in order to appease the influential elites and continue with its policies supporting import substitution industrialization, the government borrowed heavily and did little to aid the plight of the country's poor (Gerlach). [...]
[...] She also had the support structure already in place and had no need to go out and search for a job or face the strains any parent supporting a child must face, let alone when that parent is living alone in a new country. Alisva told me that Gladys actually insisted that Alisva speak English at home, as much as possible, although Spanish was still the predominant language because Gladys had never really been comfortable speaking the language of her adopted homeland. [...]
[...] Many Ecuadorians at the time were coming to the New York metro area to fill in the manual labor positions of the Garment District. Skilled with a sewing machine, they would serve as the back end of New York's booming fashion industry. Unlike many others, however, Gladys was certified in the fashion industry in Ecuador, and took her certifications with her in order to be more marketable to, as she described them, the fashion “sweatshops” of 1970 New York City. [...]
[...] In the stereotypical case of Ecuadorian emigration, “Ecuadorian men entered the United States with limited human capital and, initially, few networks or support systems. Women who followed these men enjoyed considerable benefits from the ethnic support systems in place,” (Gratton 595). Gladys went beyond this narrow conception of what was appropriate; she even went against the wishes of her own family. Gladys left Ecuador in order to escape her husband, who abused her and was seeing other women. Coming from a very religious, Catholic family, Gladys could not endure the stigma of divorce and so instead decided to leave; with every intention of bringing her children with her once she was of the appropriate means to do so. [...]
[...] She succeeded in a male-dominated activity, without the support of family, friends, or other Ecuadorians already in the area. Gladys acted as an anchor for her daughter to follow in her footsteps and join her in America. Gladys's courage has rippled across four generations now, as an entire family has been born into the system of support she began. Her pioneering spirit speaks volumes of the thousands of men and women who emigrated from Ecuador in the early 1970s, laying down the groundwork for over half a million more in the years to follow. Works Cited CIA World [...]
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