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New Jersey’s Ecuadorian Community is Focus of The Newark Public Library’s Annual Hispanic Heritage Celebration
August 23, 2007
Media only, please contact:
Ingrid Betancourt at (973) 733-3637

Yellow, blue and red—the triadic colors of Ecuador—will fly proudly this fall at The Newark Public Library as it launches its annual two-month celebration of Hispanic Heritage with a focused look this year at the lives and customs of the Ecuadorian people who make New Jersey their home.

"We celebrate the diversity of New Jersey’s Hispanic community every year to coincide with national Hispanic Heritage Month," said Newark Public Library Director Wilma J. Grey. "This year’s exhibit is dedicated to exploring the cultural contribution Ecuadorians bring to New Jersey. We will showcase their music, literary heritage, deep commitment to the towns and cities of their birth and their adopted home in the Garden State."

The exhibition and cultural program, Ecuador Expocultura 2007: New Jersey, opens Thursday, September 13 at 6 p.m. with a traditional, lively "banda de pueblo," a town brass band, which will welcome the public to the evening’s festivities.

Maria de Lourdes Vinueza, Consul for Ecuador in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, will be the evening’s keynote speaker. The audience will be introduced to this vibrant and ecologically important and diverse country through a brief audiovisual presentation courtesy of Sebastián A. Medina.

The exhibit, which runs through November 3, on the second-floor gallery, showcases the cultural traditions and American experiences of the Ecuadorian community; one of the fastest growing Latino groups in the state. According to the 2000 federal census figures, 45,392 Ecuadorians call the Garden State home. About 57 percent of that population is located in Hudson and Essex counties (15,396 and 10,487, respectively).

The exhibit will explore New Jersey’s Ecuadorian population through their art, music, literature, and news accounts and will feature information on immigration, festivals, and civic organizations.

Long known as the "Center of the World," Ecuador sits squarely on the equator, for which it was named.

"Ecuador is divided into four regions: Andean, Coastal, Amazon, and the Galápagos Islands. Yet such a significant percentage of the population has left the country to settle in the United States and Europe that many refer to this phenomenon collectively as 'la quinta region' or the fifth region," said Ingrid Betancourt, the Library’s Coordinator of Multicultural Collections and Services and co-curator of the exhibit.

Extraordinarily rich in natural diversity, Ecuador is home to about 1,600 bird species (one-sixth of all bird species on Earth), about 4,500 orchid species (one-third of the number of South America's total number), and 10 percent of all the earth's plant species. The Galápagos Islands, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, are located approximately 600 miles off the western coast of Ecuador.

While emigration from Ecuador to New Jersey and the rest of the United States started in the 1960s, political, economic, and cultural conditions prompted a great wave of migration in the last decade. Approximately one-fourth of the country’s residents, close to three million people, left Ecuador in the late 1990s; some departing during the 1995 war with Peru, others fleeing coastal devastation in 1998, the 1999 bank failure, and other economic and cultural phenomena.

Many settled in New Jersey; so many Ecuadorians live in the state that the government opened a consular office in Newark.

Library patrons can anticipate two months of events and celebrations replete with music, dance, and dramatic works. All programs will be held at the Main Library at 5 Washington Street.

On Saturday, September 15, at 2 p.m., the Library presents a musical adventure that will take patrons on a tour of the Andean mountain region through the performances of four groups: Inti-Raymi, Coro Nueva Esperanza 2000 Virgen de la Nube, Andinay and Club Social, Cultural y Deportivo Bucay. The show will be held in Centennial Hall at the Main Library.

Children can experience the magic of Ecuador and the diversity of its geography on Saturday, September 22 at 2 p.m. in the Main Library auditorium as they paint individual volcanoes to create a mural symbolic of the country’s location on the Pacific Rim’s "Ring of Fire," a chain of volcanoes that encircles the Pacific Ocean.

Ecuadorian artist Dario Scholis will direct a pre-registered group of 20 youngsters between the ages of six and twelve in the painting and construction of this canvas mural that will be displayed at the Library during the celebration. Youngsters who wish to participate in the program must register by calling 973-733-7772.

On Saturday, September 29 at 2 p.m., the public is invited to attend a theater presentation of Cuestión de Vida o Muerte (A Matter of Life or Death) by Teatro Tocando Puertas. The play presents a wry look at the impact of Ecuador’s agrarian reform on the lives of country folk. The play will be performed in Spanish in the Main Library’s auditorium.

On the evening of Thursday, October 11, patrons will find a gathering of Ecuadorian writers, poets and musicians for an evening of literature and music. Galo Vaca, José Saguay and Beto Ortero will be joined by the musical group Los Hermanos Herrera in the auditorium at the Main Library. The program starts at 6 p.m.

More music is scheduled for Saturday, October 20 at 1:30 p.m. in Centennial Hall at the Main Library. The three-part program offers patrons a glimpse of different musical instruments indigenous to Ecuador, presented by musician and teacher Pepe Santana, along with performances of pre-Columbian and mestizo music by the group Inkhay and a dance workshop of folkloric dances presented by Ayazmana.

On Saturday, October 27, at 2 p.m. the Library presents La Mitad del Mundo Proyecto QuitsaTo y Música Académica Ecuatoriana. The program pairs a concert of classical Ecuadorian music with the screening of the documentary film La Mitad del Mundo (The Middle of the World), the search for the equinoctial line. The program is offered in the auditorium of the Main Library.

"We are proud to bring together and highlight the diverse aspects of the cultures of Ecuador this year for the Library’s celebration of Hispanic Heritage," said Mariana Cando, editor of the community newspaper, Noticiero Ecuatoriano, and chair of the exhibit committee. "Many representatives of New Jersey’s Ecuadorian community worked together to create this interesting and educational program."

The Library’s Hispanic Heritage Celebration is made possible in part by funds from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/ Department of State, a partner agency of the National Endowment for the Arts, and administered by the Essex County Division of Cultural and Historic Affairs.

The exhibit is open during regular library hours. All programs are offered free to the public. For more information about the exhibit and programs, or to arrange a group tour of the exhibit, please call 973-733-7772, or log on to


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