“Santa Elena en Bus” is a film produced by young comuneros in Santa Elena, Ecuador in hopes of sharing their stories to the world. The film is based on four myths that Wankavilka comuneros preserved for millennia in order to explain the anomalies and supernatural occurrences that still happen in 90+ comunas through Santa Elena Peninsula. According to the trailer, a couple of myths I am able to detect are as follows: El Ginete and La Dama Tapada.
El Ginete is a horseman who travels in Santa Elena Peninsula in search for lost souls. According to legend, he is a devil who makes pacts with comuneros who trade their souls for money and fame. When their time comes, he comes for their souls during the night time. Many comuneros fear him and believe he exists. This is their explanation for comuneros who vanish into thin air in one night. La Dama Tapada is a dead woman who comes back to life to trick men into death. There are many version to her story, but in the film, she takes the role of a beautiful woman who lures men into the sea.
I’m so proud of the comuneros for taking an initiative in preserving and sharing our stories via film and media. The interview states that they wrote the script, directed the film, choreographed the steps, and launched the movie in Santa Elena, Ecuador. They are proud of their first success in sharing their stories, their culture, and their comunero identity to Ecuadorian society. In 2013, their comunas are going through a war against international tourist and petroleum corporations that take their lands without comuneros’ permission. According to the law of 1937, comuneros in Santa Elena, Manabí, and Guayas were appointed as official communal owners of collective lands. This means that as a people, they possess x amount of hectares of land as a community, not as individual owners. The comuneros rightfully own 515,000 hectares of ancestral land, which is about the size of Rhode Island, and 100,000 hectares of their land are in the hands of foreign invaders.
The new generation in las comunas are taking initiative in reclaiming their Indigenous identity, protecting their lands, educating the new generation of their culture, and collaborating together as one community to push for national recognition of a Wankavilka Nation. The new constitution recognizes the comuneros in Santa Elena as a “Indigenous community of 86+ comunas with a common identity, history, and culture.” Los comuneros, on the other hand, believe that they should be declared as an Indigenous nation that will bring together these 86+ comunas into one Wankavilka people with legal protections to their land and legal rights as Indigenous people in Ecuador. This is the first step. This film demonstrates who we are as a people with a rich history of Wankavilka culture, traditions, and stories.
Watch the trailer and share it with your family and friends!