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Extra! Spain's New Instability

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La Razon, May 25, 2015

"Instability," reads the Monday headline of conservative Madrid daily La Razon, after the strong showing of two upstart parties in Spain's local and regional elections threatened the longstanding two-party duel between the Popular and Socialist parties.

The conservative Popular party of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy suffered its worst local results in a generation, losing some of its support in Sunday's voting to the new center-right Ciudadanos party. The Popular party paid the price both for its economic austerity measures and for ongoing corruption scandals.

The biggest breakthrough was for the year-old left-leaning Podemos party, which sprang from 2011's popular "Los Indignados" movement that denounced economic policies as serving the wealthy few.

Ada Colau, an anti-poverty activist backed by Podemos, was elected mayor of Barcelona. The city's leading daily La Vanguardia characterized Colau's election as "Radical Change," an overall shift to the left across the country.

In the capital, 71-year-old former judge Manuela Carmena and her coalition Ahora Madrid, also backed by Podemos, scored surprisingly well, and could enter Madrid's city hall if it can pull together a coalition majority.

Nationwide, the landscape is indeed unstable and unclear after 40 years of the Popular and Socialist parties battling head-to-head following the end of the dictatorship in the early 1970s. Political leaders in a majority of regions will have to form coalitions for the first time to form a ruling majority.

Meanwhile, Rajoy, whose party lost 10% of the support it garnered in the previous vote, faces an uphill battle to win a second term in national elections slated later this year.

ABOUT THE SOURCE: La Razon is a conservative daily newspaper based in Madrid with local editions in many other Spanish cities, including Barcelona or Seville.

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Indigenous Women Of Ecuador Set Example For Sustainable Agriculture

In southern Ecuador, a women-led agricultural program offers valuable lessons on sustainable farming methods, but also how to end violence.

Photo of women walking in Ecuador

Women walking in Guangaje Ecuador

Camila Albuja

SARAGURO — Here in this corner of southern Ecuador, life seems to be like a mandala — everything is cleverly used in this ancestral system of circular production. But the women of Saraguro had to fight and resist to make their way of life, protecting the local water and the seeds. When weaving, the women share and take care of each other, also weaving a sense of community.

With the wrinkled tips of her fingers, Mercedes Quizhpe, an indigenous woman from the Kichwa Saraguro people, washes one by one the freshly harvested vegetables from her garden. Standing on a small bench, with her hands plunged into the strong torrent of icy water and the bone-chilling early morning breeze, she checks that each one of her vegetables is ready for fair day. Her actions hold a life of historical resistance, one that prioritizes the care of life through the defense of territory and food sovereignty.

Mercedes' way of life is also one that holds many potential lessons for how to do agriculture and tourism better.

In the province of Loja, work begins before sunrise. At 5:00 a.m., the barking of dogs, the guardians of each house, starts. There is that characteristic smell of damp earth from the morning dew. Sheep bah uninterruptedly through the day. With all this life around, the crowing of early-rising roosters doesn't sound so lonely.

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