Parades are for Suckers. Unless You Want to Change the World

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In many countries Three Kings Day celebrates the coming of the Three Wise Men. Here in Cuenca Ecuador they recognize the holiday but have created an event that has nothing to do with it.

Today is a little bit like April Fools mixed with Halloween with a touch of carnaval.

It starts off as a normal day but once night falls people dress up, pull pranks, all with the intention of amusement. The centerpiece of it all is the night parade.

University faculties compete with themes to make you laugh, often with parodies of the recent year. Such as:

chilean miner parody

Chilean miner rescue – and one wife’s discovery her husband had a mistress

michael jackson thriller costume

Michael Jackson being ressurrected in Ecuador.

Private universities spent hours on elaborate entries and the most impressive was a humorous look at music with massive comedic tribute of popular music:

pink floyd parade float

kiss costume

elvis presley costume

I love how some people don’t know a lick of English but can sing You shook me
all night long.

oil protest

One entry that stood out didn’t make many people laugh the most but showed the danger of drilling for oil in the rainforest.

Unfortunately Ecuador depends on foreign countries to drill for oil and they had one of the world’s worst environmental disasters as it spilled oil, destroying wildlife and refused to clean it up.

If you haven’t seen the Yes Man campaign here’s the short and dirty version of it:


…deliberately dumped more than 18 billion gallons of toxic wastewater, spilled roughly 17 million gallons of crude oil, and left hazardous waste in hundreds of open pits dug out of the forest floor.


ecudorian shaman

Texaco is back, under a new name, and it wants to drill in Yusuni, a very special part of the rainforest where many of the species haven’t even been documented.


How can Ecuadorians trust a company that already created such a gigantic disaster it’s being called
The Rainforest Chernobyl.


bat parade float

But this is on top of the minds of students, depicted by a bat with the well earned sign gringos chupa petroleo or petroleum sucking gringos.

It made me think about how we always want more money and think it will make our lives better, but what are we really jeopardizing?

What are we doing to poorer counties, tempting them with money, asking them to do things that are not in their best interest.


Forget international aid,
let’s just stop screwing them over.


Even if the systems that are supposed to protect these countries don’t and Chevron/Texaco gets away with sabotaging the trial. It’s heartening to see a movement to stop the destruction.

They don’t have a lot but they know some things are more important than oil money.

It’s a lesson that rich countries should learn.

Join the Conversation

  1. Camels & Chocolate says:

    I’m generally not a fan of parades, but this is one cause I could get behind!

  2. LeslieTravel says:

    I hadn’t heard about the Texaco issue in Ecuador. No wonder they’re upset. Anyway, fantastic photos! Looks like an amazing parade.

  3. Justin Hamlin says:

    Ayngelina, wonderful photos and a great report on the situation in Ecuador.

    I think you touched on a great point about the smaller countries that need the large companies for money, but routinely get screwed over. That alone is an enormous topic on socio-economics and social dependencies.

    Keep up the killer work.

  4. Zablon Mukuba says:

    great post, it looks like a beautiful festival, its great that you highlighted the environmental issues

  5. Looks like a cool parade, great photo’s!

  6. That’s crazy, I had no idea that they refused to clean up their dirty act – thanks for putting emphasis on this in the post!

  7. I love these types of quirky events with political/ cultural commentary. My hometown has a few, and I always love discovering them in new places. When I was in Quito, I heard some mention of indigenous people currently fighting off oil companies, but I did not know the details. Thanks for bringing this to light.

  8. What a great looking parade. Love the “pig?”. Another case of the rich get rich and the poor get poorer!

  9. What a cool thing to get to see. I totally agree, let’s stop screwing them over!

  10. I loooove parades, love the energy of them. What an interesting and unique parade!

  11. Sometimes I wonder if “international aid” is really just an attempt to make the rich countries feel better have they have indeed screwed the poor ones over.

  12. It’s amazing how uninformed we are sometimes of things like this going on in the rest of the world. When I was traveling in South America, I was constantly amazed of the things my country was involved in that I knew nothing about. At least I knew that Lindsey Lohan was in rehab again though. Ahh, American media, gotta love it. 🙁

  13. Todd | Todd'sWanderings says:

    @Claire that would be giving them too much credit! Most aid is used to maintain foreign policy goals which are not in the interest of most recipient countries. Humanitarian assistance may be the one exception to this rule.

  14. This must be the weirdest parade in the whole wide world. Great shots you got here.

  15. Crisis averted – seems your bloggers block is over! Thanks for sharing what looks like a very interesting event!

  16. I love the Gene Simmons outfit with the extra toungue attached… classic

  17. Thomas - IT Blog says:

    You really get to see a lot girl. I guess Ecuador must be a lot different than Canada. Nice pictures by the way.

  18. April Thompson says:

    Wow! Looks like an amazing time and for a great cause too! I’m no longer shocked and the blatant disregard and lack of concern “rich” countries and big business has for people and the environment. It’s sickening! Wake up people!

  19. Christy - Ordinary Traveler says:

    Thank you for bringing this to light. I wasn’t aware of it, myself. It’s so true that we can learn a lot from poorer countries. Maybe someday we will listen…

  20. Oh my goodness! I’ve never seen Three Kings Day like that wowow!

  21. David @ Malaysia Asia says:

    Oh wow, never seen any of those parades and some of them look really interesting too. Sadly over here in Malaysia, we have the most nationalist parades… sigh…


  22. Anis Salvesen says:

    Right on! I always marvel at the power of the “common people,” particularly in Latin America, to stand up to the profit-hungry corporations. And I’ve marched in my share of parades myself.

    I loved reading about the parade and seeing all of the crazy pictures. I must say that of all the ways to celebrate on El Dia de Los Reyes, the residents of Cuenca get the prize for the most creative! It makes me curious about all of the events out there that happen on traditional holidays but have nothing to do with the holiday itself.

  23. The parade is fascinating! It’s interesting to see how and why people celebrate different things around the world. And interesting how this parade shed light on some controversial things that are happening that many people don’t know about.

  24. Some issues are worth marching for. If we don’t we run the risk of companies being able to do anything they want. The public need to demonstrate their concern, so governments and companies work to better standards.
    Viv la revolution!

  25. James St. James says:

    Awesome pictures, its like I was right there with you! I wish we had sweet parades like that here – I wonder if anyone has ever attempted an Online Social Justice Parade? Everyone Tweets once per minute for an hour in protest of something. hmmm…would they hear our collective voice? Anyway – yours truly – a guilty petroleum sucking gringo.

  26. I got to a local art car parade pretty much every year. Not changing the world, but always a great time! Good post!

  27. Haha 🙂 I wonder what the Three Wise Men and baby Jesus would think about the costumes.

  28. Beautiful pictures. I like how Cuenca created a festival that looks so fun but Halloween like type of event. I know that looks like nothing to do with the three king days heehee

  29. thank you to the artists* creating awareness! the truth is in art.
    paz y amor

  30. The thought of the Rainforest Chernobyl just makes my skin crawl.. It’s interesting that when you leave people to their own devices they come up with parade statements that make the most impact on them. Michael Jackson and rainforest damnation. I pray like you do that the rich stop screwing the poor.

  31. Awesome post, Ayngelina. Had no idea this happened. Thought parades were supposed to be all happiness and celebration, love seeing them being used for something noncommercial!

  32. Corinne @ Degustinations says:

    These are so much fun I can’t pick a favourite! Great photos you have here, they almost draw us into the parade… 🙂

  33. wanderingtrader says:

    If you asked me to look at these pics and guess where this was from the last place I would pic is Ecuador.. looks like you had a great time!

  34. Lauren Fritsky says:

    These pics are fantastic.

  35. Shannon O'Donnell says:

    Our subjugation of countries still in the process of developing industry and trade is one of those often overlooked issues and topics – add in the environment into the mix and it’s a sad mixture. So glad you highlighted this Ayngelina.

  36. Great post, when are major news corps going to report this stuff? I feel for these poor people.

  37. Interesting parade and it is great they found a creative outlet for their frustration. Just wish it did something to stop the wrecking of the environment.

  38. Lindsay aka @_thetraveller_ says:

    HAHAHAHA “Michael Jackson being ressurrected in Ecuador”… awesome. Your sense of humor is coming out more and more lately… I love it!

  39. ann wellwood says:

    Thanks for making us all more aware of what is really going on in the world!The pictures of the parade are wonderful!!You can almost feel the excitement!!!

  40. Lorna - the roamantics says:

    YES! “Forget the international aid, let’s just stop screwing them over” love that. the photos here are gorgeous too and love the cultural lesson. and the title?! LOL!

  41. Yes Men was a real eye-opener. Corporations suck.

  42. I had never heard of the damage done in the Ecuadorian rainforest and had a look at the website. What they did totally sucks and then trying to get out of cleaning up???

    Why did this not get the same press coverage as the BP spill in the Gulf? Politics at work and cover-ups?

  43. Sadly, Ecuador is not alone when it come to big companies causing major environmental issues. In an ideal world countries would put the environment first and the dollars second. Let’s face it, it’s all about money.

  44. It makes me angry reading about the petroleum deal, but I also see it form another point of view. Yes the gringo companies are bad, they don’t give a shit, it’s al about the money, but what really makes me angry is the corrupt government…
    I’m sure that they get there share and they don’t care about what’s going to happen to their country, their people and their future… I’m sure that Ecuador too has laws to protect the environment and has signed international treaties…

    I just can get so mad at politics… why don’t they care?

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Well the somewhat good news out of all of this is that Chevron was just ordered to pay 17 billion in fines but who knows if they will actually pay that amount.

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