Ecuadorian twitter users celebrated the anniversary of the independence of their country in a very special manner. Each year on August 10, the people of this South American country commemorate independence from Spain in 1809, becoming the Luz de América (Light of America). It is also an opportunity to for civics, and as a national holiday, most government employees have the day off.
But this year was a bit different, especially for net citizens active in the use of blogging tools and social networks. Many of these users wanted to show a more positive side of their country. Through an idea of bloggers Pablo Garzón, Alfred Naranjo, Alfredo Velazco, Paúl Barahona, and Priscilla Riofrio, a website was built to support the project called Te Amo Ecuador (I Love You, Ecuador). The project promoted the use of the hashtag #teamoecuador to be used on the anniversary of Ecuador's Independence. According to the site [es]:
El objetivo es mostrar la deliciosa gastronomía, sitios turísticos, paisajes únicos, glorias deportivas, su historia y demás detalles de Ecuador, demostrando de esta manera nuestro orgullo de ser ecuatorianos.
No matter where an Ecuadorian was located, at home or abroad, the initiative found plenty of support. Even the national government participated with a tweet with the corresponding hashtag [es] coming from the official Presidential twitter account (@presidencia_ec). The organizers asked others to tweet at three different times: at 11:00, 16:00, and 22:00, which are considered to be peak hours for internet access in Ecuador.
Rocío Elizalde of the blog La Libertad de Expesión es un Derecho del Periodismo en Ecuador [es] (Freedom of Speech is a Journalistic Right in Ecuador) explains why she participated in the #teamoecuador project:
Se reflejó pasión por Ecuador, ya que cada twitter de #teamoecuador tenía una característica de porque Ecuador es una país para amar con pasión. Esto nos permitió reconocer lo megadiversos que somos, lo grande que somos, lo maravilloso que tenemos y la calidad de gente que hay en este maravilloso Ecuador.
Blogger Patty_LDU writes about why Ecuador's Independence is considered the first of its kind in Latin America [es] and what was the role of one of her founding mothers, Manuela Cañizares [es]. She asks how should Ecuadorians honor the founders of this country:
En la historia de sudamérica este fue el primer paso primordial, y mucho mas allá de la historia, hoy debemos recordar porque estos héroes de la patria lo hicieron? Será que ahora con tantas posibilidades tecnológicas en nuestras manos podemos decir PRESENTES?, y mostrarle al mundo lo que somos y por lo que peleamos
Inspired by the information [es] on ways to achieve trending status, #teamoecuador managed to reach seventh place for trending topics around the world on Tuesday, August 10. Twitter users also attracted the attention of many of the major media channels in Ecuador. However, this achievement followed a similar placing on the trending topic lists. On August 2, twitter users in Ecuador spread information about a UFO sighting in Guayaquil, but actually turned out to be a kite [es]. Blogger Stalin Granda cites some of statistics [es] and writes that at noon on August 10, there were 4,402 tweets with the hashtag from 1,034 different Twitter account.
While most people seemed to be pleased with the #teamoecuador initiative and the good feelings toward their country, there were people who did not feel like celebrating. Blogger Andrea Caracola [es] had doubts about this nationalistic pride. While she is happy that Google Ecuador featured the independence of her country, she writes that she is not especially proud of being Ecuadorian.
Soy ecuatoriana porque así dice en mi partida de nacimiento, porque me tuve que agachar a besar una bandera y porque así lo imprimieron en mi cédula, pero nacionalista jamás. Lo siento señores, pero no me siento orgullosa de haber nacido aquí. De 1 universo, 9 planetas, 204 paises, 5 continentes, 809 islas, 7 mares …¡justo tuve que nacer aquí!
There were other hashtags like #QuieroEcuadorEnTT (I Want Ecuador on Trending Topic) and #ApoyoEcuadorTT (Support Ecuador Trending Topic) that did not receive the same amount of support. Blogger from La Plegaria de un Pagano [es], even thought at one time, that the project was funded by the national government to show a false sense of conciliation.
Despite these suspicions and feelings of not being nationalistic, there were many Twitter users who enjoyed using the hashtag on the national holiday.