The Dandy Dozen: My 12 Favorite Street Shots For May 2015

The shot above was taken during an opposition May Day parade in Quito last month. I covered a handful of demonstrations while in the Ecuadorean capital, knew what to expect, and decided to focus some attention to what was happening on the fringes, which at times was even more interesting.

The man had an audience of thousands, but none were in the market for reading glasses. Not even at three dollars a pop. By the time he moved on, his expression turned grim. That departure from the scene remains one of the most poignant memories of that morning and afternoon that I spent walking among tens of thousands of people.

It’s also one of my favorite street shots snapped during the month of May, leading off my monthly dandy dozen street shot compilation which I began in late April. (It’s here if you missed it.) I’m happy to report that for the fifth consecutive month, none of the subjects flung sardines at me or punched me in the crotch. Not one.

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May Day in Quito Part II: Thousands join anti-Government Holiday Parade

As I mentioned yesterday, politics is complicated in Ecuador these days.

There were two opposing parades and marches yesterday to mark the international workers’ holiday; one ostensibly organized by supporters of President Rafael Correa and his Alianza Pais party, and another by a loose knit association of opposition labor, civil society and student groups.

Both attracted several thousand people and I walked alongside both. The latter appeared to be better-attended, with participants out-numbering the anti-government demonstration on March 19 that largely followed the same route. The parade routes were different –the Correa march began in a neighborhood south of the city center and the opposition to the north, with both converging in the historical center in large squares five blocks apart. Police made sure the separation was maintained and respected, which for the most part it was. Unlike the March 19 event during which some minor clashes were reported and about a dozen demonstrators arrested, no violence, incidents or arrests were reported.

I’m working on a longer piece on the day’s activities and the complicated political scene in Ecuador, which I’m planning to post sometime next week.

Here are 22 images from the opposition march; coverage of the pro-Correa march and parade is here and here. For licensing and editorial use, please check out my images filed for Corbis and Demotix.

 

A woman beats on a drum with a sign that reads, "The Family Plan equals state violence" at an anti-government May Day Parade in Quito, Ecuador.

A woman beats on a drum with a sign that reads, “The Family Plan equals state violence” at an anti-government May Day Parade in Quito, Ecuador.

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May Day in Quito – Part I: Correa leads thousands in pro-government Parade

When it comes to politics, nothing is simple in Ecuador.

Case in point: not one but two May Day Parades / marches were held today, one pro-government which began in the south of the city and led by president Rafael Correa (above), and another organized by a loose knit association of opposition groups, which began in the north. Both attracted participants in the tens of thousands —although the opposition one looked significantly larger to me— and both converged in the city center in squares five blocks apart. Police made sure the separation was respected and for the most part, it was.

Correa, who remains widely popular but faces increasing criticism and opposition, led the march, which ended with a rally in the Santo Domingo Plaza in Quito’s historical center. The entire march and post-parade rally was broadcast live to a national audience.

Here are 22 images from the pro-Correa march; photos from the opposition march and additional notes on the gatherings to follow tomorrow. For licensing and editorial use, please check out my images filed for Corbis and Demotix.

Ecuadorean president Rafael Correa at a Pro-government May Day March in Quito 04

Ecuadorean president Rafael Correa (c) leads one of two 2015 May Day parades in Quito

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American Spiritual Ensemble Performs in Quito For Holy Week Festival

Soprano Andrea Jones-Sojola, a member of the American Spiritual Ensemble, sings “Lord I Have Seen” at the Iglesia de la Merced, an early 18th century church in Quito’s historical center district.

Soprano Andrea Jones-Sojola, a member of the American Spiritual Ensemble, sings “Lord I Have Seen” at the Iglesia de la Merced, an early 18th century church in Quito’s historical center district.

Concerts in Quito continue to move me to tears. Last night’s was the latest.

I had the great fortune to attend a concert by The American Spiritual Ensemble, a group comprised of some of the finest opera singers in the world. It was the third concert of the four I’ve attended in Quito in recent weeks that left me in tears.

Founded in 1995 by Everett McCorvey (below, snapping his fingers to “When the Saints”), the group’s mission is to preserve the tradition of the negro spiritual, one of the oldest musical forms of the post-colonial U.S., with a repertoire that ranges from spirituals and the classics to gospel and Broadway.

Everett McCorvey, director of the American Spiritual Ensemble, at a concert in the Iglesia de la Merced, an early 18th century church in the historical center of Quito, Ecuador.

Everett McCorvey, director of the American Spiritual Ensemble, at a concert in the Iglesia de la Merced, an early 18th century church in the historical center of Quito, Ecuador.

The members are seasoned opera performers and soloists as well as well-traveled minstrels of the art form, performing regularly at the Metropolitan, New York City, San Francisco, Boston and Atlanta Civic Operas, as well as with companies around the world.

The group is in the Ecuadorean capital for a three-performance visit as part of the city’s Holy Week Musica Sacra Festival. The setting for last night’s 18-piece performance, the early 18th century Iglesia de la Merced in the city’s historical center, couldn’t have been better.

Members of the American Spiritual Ensemble perform at the Iglesia de la Merced, an early 18th century church in Quito's historical center district.

Members of the American Spiritual Ensemble perform at the Iglesia de la Merced, an early 18th century church in Quito’s historical center district.

The highlight? Picking one is an impossible chore, so I’ll offer four:

“No More Auction Block / Go Down Moses”, the first to give me goosebumps, performed by Martin Hargrove and Kevin Thompson; Denisha Ballew’s moving rendition of “Soon I Will be Done With the Trouble of the World”; Matthew Truss’s powerful treatment of “There’s a Man Going Round”; and Andrea Jones-Sojola’s uplifting “Lord I Have Seen”.

Kenneth Overton (Left), Larry Hylton (Center) and Sam McKelton (Right), members of the American Spiritual Ensemble, sing

Kenneth Overton (Left), Larry Hylton (Center) and Sam McKelton (Right), members of the American Spiritual Ensemble, sing “Sit Down Servant” in concert at the 18th century Merced church in Quito, Ecuador.

Twenty-three photos in all are on my blog. For editorial use and licensing, check out the images filed for Corbis and Demotix. Enjoy!

 

Palm Sunday in Quito

Worshipers pray at a small chapel during a Palm Sunday Mass at the 18th century La Merced Church, or the Iglesia de la Merced, in Quito, Ecuador.

Worshipers pray at a small chapel during a Palm Sunday Mass at the 18th century La Merced Church, or the Iglesia de la Merced, in Quito, Ecuador.

QUITO — More than ninety percent of Ecuadoreans consider themselves Roman Catholics. Whether that figure is a realistic representation of the country’s faithful or not, it does make Palm Sunday a major holiday here.

Here are a few shots taken before, during and after today’s Palm Sunday mass at the Iglesia de la Merced, an early 18th century church located in Quito’s historical center, the first area in the world to be named a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

For licensing and editorial use, please check out the images I filed for Corbis and Demotix.

A boy selling Palm Sunday fronds in front of the La Merced Church, or the Iglesia de la Merced, in the historical center of Quito, Ecuador.

A boy selling Palm Sunday fronds in front of the La Merced Church, or the Iglesia de la Merced, in the historical center of Quito, Ecuador.

Worshipers celebrating Palm Sunday mass at La Merced Church in Quito, Ecuador

Worshipers celebrating Palm Sunday mass at La Merced Church in Quito, Ecuador

 

Hundreds Take Part in Fourth Quito Slutwalk to Protest Sexual Violence

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QUITO – Several hundred people gathered in Quito to take part in the fourth annual ‘Marcha de las Putas’ on Saturday, part of the growing trans-national network of ‘Slutwalk’ marches to protest sexual and domestic violence towards women.

With an infectious rhythm of beating drums and the shrieks of loud whistles as a non-stop soundtrack, marchers chanted slogans demanding sexual and reproductive freedom and an end to rape culture as they set out on the two-hour march from the Parque El Ejido, a few kilometers north of the city’s historical center district. Night descended by the time the parade route reached its end at the Plaza Foch entertainment district.

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One of the goals of the demonstration was to loudly denounce slut-shaming, victim-blaming and gender violence, which, organizers claim, is becoming less invisible thanks largely to awareness-raising actions such as the annual Slutwalks.

Another objective, said coordinator Ana Almeida prior to the march, was to challenge society into accepting responsibility for sexual violence, harassment and violence against women in general.

Indeed, the prevailing theme was one of women, tired of intolerance, male chauvinism and machismo, demanding respect and control over their own bodies. The mood was energetic, colorful, festive and confident.

While the majority of participants were women, men made up a substantial portion of the crowd, which also included families with young children, tourists and members of the LGBTI community from throughout Ecuador.

There was a sizable police presence whose role was limited to traffic control, with one notable exception.

A heavy metal guitarist, who La Hora identified as Juan David Benitez, stripped down to his socks for a three song set under the shadow cast by a statue called ‘La Lucha Eterna’, or ‘The Eternal Struggle’.

Two policemen approached and asked him to put his pants on, requests that went ignored. The standoff, accompanied by a growing crowd’s calls for encore after encore, ended in a surreal scene a few minutes later when Benitez found himself surround by nearly a dozen helmeted officers dressed in full riot gear who didn’t back off until they watched him put his pants back on.

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The Slutwalk idea was found in Toronto in 2011 as a reaction to a local police officer’s suggestion that “women should avoid dressing like sluts” as a precaution against sexual assault. The concept has since spread to dozens of countries where events are organized annually.

A few more images are below; forty-six in all are on my blog. NOTE: Some of those are probably NSFW.

All images © Bob Ramsak 2015. All rights reserved. For editorial use, please check out the images I filed for Demotix / Corbis. Enjoy!

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