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Indigenous groups from all over the Americas gathered in Quito over the past two weeks to participate in the Indigenous Social Forum and the first Social Forum of the Americas (FSA). Leading up to the closing ceremonies of the FSA on Friday, July 30th indigenous groups belonging to the Federación Ecuatoriana de Indígenas Evangélicos (FEINE-Ecuadorian Federation of Indigenous Evangelicals) marched from the Cultural Centre in modern downtown Quito to the Presidential Palace in a colourful train of singing and dancing.

Protesting against the most recent of a series of Ecuadorian governments that have been implementing neoliberal policies despite their almost universal unpopularity, the FEINE march was victim to none of the macho tactics that marred Wednesday’s anti-globalization march. “I think this march is much better than Wednesday’s,” explained a marcher from the Andean province of Chimborazo, “there was a lot of violence at that one, and we have more music here.”

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Ecuador’s indigenous population makes up approximately 25% of the population, and includes 11 distinct peoples. Arriving mostly from the Andean provinces that stretch from the Colombian boarder in the north to the Peruvian in the South, marchers reacted to the structural adjustment programs that have further impoverished their historically marginalized communities, the militarization that has threatened to drag them into Colombia’s civil war, and a culture of political cynicism in which Lucio Gutierrez is merely the latest in a long line of false prophets.

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“We’re marching for life and for peace,” said a marcher from the Andean province of Chimborazo. “For peace and liberty-we don’t want any more war here,” added another marcher from Tungurahua. As part of a long struggle against neoliberalism in Ecuador, this particular march had the distinction of articulating its anti-imperialism primarily through Christian songs, sung in Spanish.

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In the European streets of Quito’s old town, the Christian, Spanish-speaking, Indigenous marchers presented a symbol of the universal reach of imperialism, reminding the observer of the weight of five-hundred years of cultural and ideological oppression. Yet it simultaneously seemed as though the marchers had turned the imperialist tools of European language and religion against their new oppressors. To hear Ecuador’s indigenous pronouncing their rejection of the neoliberal project in Spanish, in Christian hymns sung in beautifully sad Andean tones was to be present at five-hundred years of lived resistance.