Ecuadorian Mobil Consulate at the Vera Court
Bringing Service to the People
|Top Left: Alexis Pazos, consular agent (l-r) , Catalina Landivar, vice
consul and Vicente Almeida,
Top right: Leonardo Bravo, Verónica Vega, Diego Campoverde and
By Jonathan Gramling
For the past 30 years, the international economy has gone through
some drastic changes. Coupled with tremendous advances in
communications and transportation, trade agreements like NAFTA
have caused major shifts in where goods are produced and how
services are provided. And as the economic changes occurred, they created a delayed reaction in population shifts as people have had to go
where the jobs were — oftentimes in disregard of political and national strictures. Ecuador was not insulated from the economic changes.
“My understanding is my ancestral people who live in this area originally came from the mountains,” said Catalina Landivar, vice counsel of
the Ecuador Consulate of Chicago. “There are small towns that are affected by economic crisis 20 years ago and again 10 years ago. It resulted
in a massive exodus and it was just about survival. It’s a very large group that live here who come from tribes in the north. They are
entrepreneurs and travelers from Ecuador who have gone all over the world without knowing any other language. And they have amazing
trading skills. They are promoting textiles and the music and the culture. And they have traveled all over the world. Wherever you go, you’re
going to find some of them. You have some of them in this community. I think it’s a great example of hard working people from my country. They
are ubiquitous. They are everywhere. I am very proud that they are a part of the Ecuadorian community. It is a very small country, but it has this
very rich culture and it is a very multicultural country. We are very proud of each one of us. If you bring a group of Ecuadorians together and
you ask, ‘How does the typical Ecuadorian look like,’ we look like everyone. What does the typical Ecuadorian look like? They are all of the
colors of the rainbow and many different heights.”
Some of those Ecuadorians have landed in Madison to pursue their dreams.
“The Ecuadorian community in Madison has been growing for many, many years here,” said Diego Campoverde. “The Ecuadorian Association
has been doing a lot of events to support the Ecuadorian community socially as well as fundraising and events like this one to bring the
Ecuadorian Consulate of Chicago to Madison to provide consular services here. We estimate that approximately 200 Ecuadorians live in
Madison. I know that we have more in Wisconsin and Dane County.”
Landivar is proud of her fellow Ecuadorians and feels that they are an asset to the United States.
“It is the younger cohort of the population who are the ones who are able to work, the ones who go out to try to provide for themselves and
others,” Landivar said. “They have the energy. The United States should take advantage of those hardworking, young people willing to put the
hours and the energy in.”
Landivar herself came to the United States seeking opportunity.
“I was a Fulbright scholar at the University of Cincinnati,” Landivar said. “An important part of my Fulbright background was cultural exchange.
You become more aware and become an ambassador of your own culture among others. You learn a lot and then what you learn from the
community, you take it back and share it with others. You get to know Americans in a different light. It’s not the cartoonish images, but the real
ones, the ones that are normal families with the same aspirations as any other family in the world. It’s not the cowboy who goes out kicking the
dog. I hope that our job, each one of the Ecuadorians whom you encounter, becomes a cultural ambassador of our country. But it is hard
working, friendly and have exactly the same aspirations as anyone else, to provide for their kids and others.”
Landivar uses that understanding and knowledge in her role as vice counsel. The Ecuadorian consulate has jurisdiction over seven states:
Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky and Missouri. And while the Ecuadorians who live in the Madison area may have need
to avail themselves of some of the consular services, a trip to Chicago may be time and financially burdensome. And like the saying goes, “If
Muhammad can’t go to the mountain, then bring the mountain to Muhammad. And so every few years, the Ecuadorian staff, at the invite of and
through the support of local Ecuadorian groups, will visit areas with a concentration of Ecuadorians to provide consular services.
And so on March 4th, the Ecuadorian consulate made the trip to the Vera Court Neighborhood Center where they set up shop and “opened their
doors” for members of the Ecuadorian community.
“We try to go to different parts of our jurisdiction to provide the consular services such as passports, consular IDs, those kinds of documents
that you need to prove who you are when you are in your host country,” Landivar said. “Those are things that you have to do in person. For
some people because it is very hard due to your family or your work, it gets more complicated. Every so often, the consulate packs up all of the
equipment, fights with the technology to make sure that we provide that service to our fellow countrymen. In this very charged political
environment, besides doing that because those documents are very important, we are also trying to provide information to our countrymen in
terms of what to do and how to deal with encounters with immigration, for example. We let them know what resources the consulate can offer
them. They need to see us more than just the organization that gives you a passport. We are also there to take their emergency phone calls if
they are detained at the airport, if they are detained on the street, if they are in a detention center or in the jail or if they have a medical problem.
We are here to be their personal advocate for their rights because we abide by the Vienna Convention, for example. Just like the United States,
Ecuador is a signature of that. So we are someone who speaks for the rights of Ecuadorians when they are in other countries.”
While they are residents of Madison, Ecuadorian citizens are still eligible to vote in the Ecuadorian presidential election. For those who could
make the trip, local Ecuadorians had to travel to Chicago on April 2nd to vote. Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno has been officially declared
The visit of the Ecuador Mobile Consulate has also allowed Landivar to meet with local officials to discuss the services of the consulate.
“We are going to have Chief Koval, Alder Bidar and Sheriff Mahoney come in to talk about the Ecuadorian community in Madison, some of the
efforts that the consulate is doing in Chicago and the Ecuadorian government as well,” Campoverde said. “This is very, very important to us.
We are very happy to be able to have this here. To be able to have a passport or an ID is super important. It is also very crucial to be able to
have these conversations with the Ecuadorian community.”
While the local Ecuadorians are volunteering their services in hosting the consulate, it also affords them the opportunity to get to know their
“New faces come in,” Campoverde said. “A lot of new families have been living here. It’s very interesting because we don’t know everyone.
This is an opportunity for us to spread the word, to let them know that we are here and we are also providing services for the Ecuadorian
community. This is very important to us as well.”
The visit of the Ecuadorian Mobil Consulate has been a win-win-win event for the Ecuadorian government, Ecuadorians living in Madison and
the Madison area as a whole. It is always important to be prepared.