Yesterday was a brain buster day at Lakeside. The theme this week is Latin America. Although I had a Spanish minor in college, it had been 50 years since I looked into the geography, culture and economics of this huge and diverse continent. Today is literature, and tomorrow is devoted just to Brazil--it alone in LA has a full set of global connections--economic, industrial, military, diplomatic and cultural. Also, it was somewhat alarming to see the huge presence of China in LA.
For an Ecuadoran to travel to New York costs about $14,000 using local "loan sharks" and various networks to get him out of the country up through Mexico and across the border and more transportation to NYC. When there he may work as many as 3 jobs and have the loan paid back in 1.5 years (interest is 5% a month). Although there are a lot of illegal things going on in this story, there are also entrepreneurship, creativeness and very hard work. Remittances sent back to Ecuador supports his family and maybe his parents; also builds a nice home in a village that may be almost empty. One is left to wonder why Ecuadoran campesinos will work this hard with only the support of friends and family (no social benefits), but Americans won't.