Ecuador opened the doors of its first presidential museum Monday, putting on display all the gifts received by President Rafael Correa over the course of his 10 years leading the country ahead of the end of his term in 10 days.
The museum will be housed in the presidential palace, known as Carondelet, and will be open to the public for free. The full collection is valued at US$2.3 million, according to the president.
"You will be able to go to Carondelet and find even the last pen that I have received as president of the republic and the gifts my family has received," Correa said during his weekly televised program in Quito.
Correa has insisted on multiple occasions that all the gifts he received from presidents and personalities around the world were given to him in the name of all Ecuadoreans, so they belonged to all citizens of the country and should be open to the public to view.
Since 2007, the president has received 11,428 gifts that will be on display, according to the presidential records, including watches, pens, jewelry given to his wife, sculptures by famous artists and a bicycle presented by Chinese President Xi Jinping.
About 83 percent of the gifts were given by people in the country and the remaining 17 percent from international figures or organizations.
Among the symbolic present are the signature white handkerchief given out by the human rights legends of Argentina's Mothers of Plaza de Mayo, a copy of the of the revolutionary Ernesto "Che" Guevara's diary and an original work from the Colombian writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
Some of the gifts are also going through an auction process in order to raise funds to finance social projects.
The president criticized the fact that there has never been a law to prevent heads of state and their spouses from keeping the gifts, but only referred to appealing to their "ethics."
"We are the government of honesty, we will not allow those who have plundered this country to rob us of the banner of honesty," Correa said.
Correa presented a reform named Decree 501 to deliver all presents and begin a collection of artifacts, which later became a museum. Correa said that the current Carondelet museum has become the most visited in Ecuador with 1.5 million visitors and will add new exhibition halls and at least five new spaces.
He said the same practices have been organized within other public offices, including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which he said receives many gifts which are to be seen by all Ecuadoreans.
The museum also has an exhibition focused on explaining the key social, political and economic events in the history of the country.