“Why is it called Nuevo Rocafuerte and not just Rocafuerte?” - was my first question when I met Mr Tito, one of the founders of this village. “Well” - he said - “it used to be called Rocafuerte before the Peruvian invasion of 1941. See, Rocafuerte wasn’t located here, it used to be a couple of hours down the Napo River, in Peru. When the war started, the inhabitants of Rocafuerte fled to El Coca and the Peruvian army used the town as their military base. After the peace treaty of 1942, what was once known as Rocafuerte became Cabo Pantoja, a Peruvian village. A couple of years after the war, some of the former inhabitants of Rocafuerte decided to go as close as possible to where we used to live and founded a new village, which is this one, Nuevo Rocafuerte.”
I love border towns because of their vitality, commerce, noise, smells and mixes of culture, but Nuevo Rocafuerte is exactly the oposite. It is a small town of around 1400 inhabitants where not much goes on. Not many Peruvians cross the border to get here and not many Ecuadorians travel there. People assured me that it is not because they are still angry after the war, but because there is just not much to do.
I stayed there 3 days and I’m now posting pictures from the second. I was lucky enough to have met a couple of families that let me enter their homes and see how they live. They told me that Nuevo Rocafuerte used to be the parish’s cantonal head but after a referendum in 2008 the new head became Tiputini, a town 60 km to the north. They asked me to publish that they consider this referendum illegitimate and argue that the major has moved to Tiputini and never returned back. “Because he is afraid of us. We know what he did and how much he stole” - they added.
Everybody here knows about the Manta-Manaus commercial route project, but nobody is optimistic about it. “It could boost the economy in this region, but it seems the project is dead now” - said Mr Tito.
There may be a bit of a fuzz about the picture of a boy with a collar and a swastika drown on it. I’d like to put of the fire before it starts by saying that I asked him about that and he didn’t know what it represents. He is not a neonazi nor practises hinduism. He just likes the graphics and hasn’t heard about WWII.
Next stop: Cabo Pantoja, Peru