If you get a chance, a great town to visit in Ecuador is Salinas de Guaranda. (There is more than one Salinas in Ecuador--this is the one in the Andes, near the city of Guaranda.)
Salinas is one of the few towns in the Andes where the land is owned by the people who live there. It's an amazing community that has developed a series of small industries, a system of financing, and a community development strategy that has given people living there a much higher standard of living than most people in the Andes.
If you go, talk to the people about their community and how it runs. You'll see a pretty remarkable example of how strong leadership can mobilize poor people in the third world and help them improve their lives.