Grammar Police Correcting Graffiti in a country of paradoxes: Quito, Ecuador


 I almost pissed myself when I came across this story. A couple of blokes are cruising around this sprawling incoherent city and fixing spelling and grammar mistakes in graffiti.

According to Simon and Garfunkel, ‘the words of the prophets are written on the subway walls’ – Sound of Silence.

I live in Quito, Ecuador, nestled in the Andes, 10,000 feet above sea level .

Whilst I cannot say too much about the modern architecture, there are some lovely old buildings between the eyesores.


 Ecuador is a very fragmented country – unity really only comes through Football, the language of South America. Poverty and discontent are rife, though not as rife as theft, lies and corruption. The outgoing President, Rafael Correa is a billionaire on a salary of $80,000pa. The media is government controlled. Inertia results.

This is a country of extraordinary beauty. It is also one of the richest countries in the world in terms of mineral wealth, yet they have no mining know-how. It is the biggest producer of roses in the world (I can buy a dozen large roses for US$1). It is home to 10% of all the land animals in the world.


 The Amazon basin is on the eastern side, the Galapagos to the west. The magnificent Andes separates jungle from lowlands which are so fertile that fence posts will grow, forming what they call ‘magic fences’.

The very finest dark chocolate and wonderful coffee are produced here. They buy Nestle and Nescafe!

I would be very happy to live here – the former home of Guayasamin, artist.

 Education standards are poor. One teacher whom I knew briefly, as will become apparent, set about his work with great dedication and attention to detail. He was given the curriculum to follow and was amazed at the low levels of competence. After the end of term exams he failed every single student as they did not meet the criteria he was asked to follow.

He got fired.


 This leads conveniently along to the point of this post: Graffiti Police. Normally one would expect this to entail law enforcement officers catching hooded youths adorning public buildings with their stylised lettering and anti-authoritarian slogans.

No, this is a couple of young people who trawl the city of Quito and have taken it upon themselves to correct the spelling and grammar of graffiti artists. The movement has become an International crusade to make graffiti an art form which respects literary constructs. “Accion Ortografico”, run by Agent X and Agent Full-stop.

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