Prof gets inauguration invite
A Minnesota State University Moorhead Spanish professor attended Monday's inauguration for the president-elect of Ecuador. Cecillia Mafla-Bustamante shared an office with Rafael Correa in the early 1990s when they both taught at the Universidad S...
A Minnesota State University Moorhead Spanish professor attended Monday's inauguration for the president-elect of Ecuador.
Cecillia Mafla-Bustamante shared an office with Rafael Correa in the early 1990s when they both taught at the Universidad San Francisco de Quito in Ecuador's capital city.
While visiting her native country over Christmas break, Mafla-Bustamante left a congratulatory note for the friend she's kept in touch with over the years.
When she got back to Moorhead, Mafla-Bustamante returned a phone message from Correa, and he invited her to attend his inauguration.
"I still cannot believe it," she said in an interview last week before leaving Saturday for Ecuador.
Several world leaders - including presidents of Venezuela, Chile, Brazil, Peru, Nicaragua, Bolivia and Iran - attended the inauguration, she said.
"It's such an honor," Mafla-Bustamante said. "I never thought I ever would be in a presidential inauguration of any country, but it's more meaningful that it is mine."
Before he became involved in politics, Correa was a well-known and influential economist in Ecuador.
Mafla-Bustamante said she's proud that someone who has not been involved with traditional politics in Ecuador could reach the top.
"The fact that he called me, being in such a high position in Ecuador, I think that really shows that he's not the kind of person that once he goes to the top he forgets about his friends," she said.
Correa told Mafla-Bustamante that he once interviewed for a job at Concordia College in the economics department, but instead chose to return to Ecuador to teach.
Concordia confirmed that Correa interviewed at the college but could not comment further because of privacy about the college's hiring practices, said Amy Kelly, director of Concordia's news bureau.
Another North Dakota woman, Patricia Bryant, of rural Souris, is Correa's cousin and also planned to attend Monday's inauguration.
Bryant has not seen her cousin in more than 25 years, but occasionally hears from him by e-mail.
"Definitely he has some connections to the north Plains," Mafla-Bustamante said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report
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