Between goals and shots: the most violent province in Ecuador is the cradle of Enner Valencia

Enner Valencia inaugurated the goals in the World Cup in Qatar. The best footballer in the Turkish Super League and Ecuador’s top scorer in the World Cups, he is originally from a province abandoned by the state. (REUTERS/Matthew Childs) (MATTHEW CHILDS/)

the victory of Ecuadorian team in the opening match against the host of the World Cup Qatar 2022 not only brought joy to the country but also opened a debate on state abandonment in emeraldsthe border province that has become one of the places most violent in Ecuador by the presence of criminal gangs Y armed groups irregulars who have ties to the drug trafficking.

Enner Valenciawho inaugurated the Qatar 2022 World Cup scoring goals for the Ecuadorian team and who established himself as the historic Ecuadorian goalscorer in the World Cups, is originally from Esmeraldas, the most forgotten province of Ecuador.

The triumph of the trias Ecuadorians call the soccer team, happened on the same day that Esmeraldas commemorated 175 years of provincialization.

Enner Valencia was born in San Lorenzoone of the cantons of Esmeraldas, known not only for being the birthplace of the Ecuadorian striker but also for the violence, kidnappings and deaths that happen there

In January 2018, there was a bomb attack on a police station in San Lorenzo.  In April of that same year, three journalists were kidnapped and murdered.  (Esmeraldas Governorate)
In January 2018, there was a bomb attack on a police station in San Lorenzo. In April of that same year, three journalists were kidnapped and murdered. (Esmeraldas Governorate)

San Lorenzo is located 290 kilometers from Quito. The canton is located on the border with Colombia and its population is constantly intimidated by groups drug criminals that they operate there, because that is the gateway for the drug grown in Colombia to Ecuador.

In 2018, San Lorenzo, was the scene of the attack on a police station and after the kidnapping of the journalistic team of the newspaper Tradewhose members were assassinated by the Oliver Sinisterra Fronta group of dissidents from the Revolutionary Forces of Colombia (FARC).

San Lorenzo, as well as other cantons of Esmeraldas, have seen the great figures of Ecuadorian soccer grow. Sport has become a pass so that children and young people aspire to a better quality of life, but today even that opportunity is elusive, because criminal gangs are co-opting minors to join their crimes.

A good part of the Ecuadorian team's squad and its stars come from Esmeraldas.  (REUTERS/Molly Darlington)
A good part of the Ecuadorian team’s squad and its stars come from Esmeraldas. (REUTERS/Molly Darlington) (MOLLY DARLINGTON/)

Enner Valencia, who now plays for the fenerbahce of TurkeyHe grew up in a situation of poverty. During his childhood he helped his father to milk cows and sell milk, but his soccer skills allowed him to play in the best teams in Ecuador and later to be recruited by international teams.

Today Valencia is not only the Ecuadorian scorer who opened the World Cup goals, he is also the best player in the Turkish Super League this year.

But in contrast to the success of Enner Valencia and other athletes from Esmeralda, until October 20 of this year, the province of Esmeraldas registered 416 violent deaths since January 2022, 179% more than the 149 homicides in 2021.

Esmeraldas has a rate of 64 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants, which is the highest rate in the history of the country and one of the ten highest rates per city in the worldalong with the Mexican Tijuana and Acapulco or the Venezuelan Caracas and Ciudad Guayana.

Fear has seized the inhabitants of the province of Esmeraldas, in Ecuador, who feel unprotected against the criminal groups that operate there.  (Elsa Guerra)
Fear has seized the inhabitants of the province of Esmeraldas, in Ecuador, who feel unprotected against the criminal groups that operate there. (Elsa Guerra)

The state’s abandonment of the border province not only demonstrates government inefficiency but also the racial exclusion which is still installed in Ecuador.

The people who excitedly shouted Valencia’s goal belong to the same Ecuador that still discriminates against Afro-Ecuadorians, whom, according to the United Nations Organizationthey are constantly denied their right to a clean environment, as well as access to justice, education, and decent work.

Afro-Ecuadorians, like Valencia, represent 7.2% of the national populationHe, however, represent 40% of those living in poverty. That is why the places with the largest Afro population, such as Esmeraldas, have high rates of poverty and inequality.

Children and adolescents represent a third of the total population of Ecuador, however they are a sector exposed to multiple vulnerabilities.  (UNICEF)
40% of Afro-Ecuadorians in Ecuador live in poverty. (Unicef) (SANTIAGO ARCOS /)

The President of the UN Working Group on People of African Descent, Ahmed Reidexplained that “Esmeraldas is one of the poorest provinces in Ecuador; 85% of its population lives below the poverty line23% have access only to the most basic services, and 15% of the population is illiterate”.

Proof of inequality, in something as basic as access to education, is that in Ecuador Afro-Ecuadorians, like the Montubios and indigenous people, have the lowest levels of schooling and while 32% of whites and 24% of mestizos enter the university, only 11% of blacks can enter higher education and of these only 6% graduateas shown by the 2010 Census and the Integrated System of Social Indicators of Ecuador of 2013.

The Ecuador that is still racist is the same one that is happy and recognizes Afro-Ecuadorians when they win medals or sports tournaments, but that after the hubbub excludes them.

Enner Valencia played 77 minutes in Ecuador vs. Qatar and scored the goals that gave the Andean country victory in the opening match of the World Cup.  (FIFA)
Enner Valencia played 77 minutes in Ecuador vs. Qatar and scored the goals that gave the Andean country victory in the opening match of the World Cup. (FIFA)

Like other sports stars who reach the top and who do not forget their origins or ignore the reality of their own, Enner Valencia has decided to donate all the economic prizes to Esmeraldas you get during this year’s World Cup.

Enner Valencia, as mentioned by several fans on social networks, with his football, his history and his altruism has done more for his province than many authorities. Enner Valencia’s goals not only gave Ecuador its first victory in Qatar and made it the first team in the world to beat the hosts in the opening match, but have once again brought to the fore the problems that Esmeraldas and his population face.

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Source-www.infobae.com