BECK index

Ecuador 1850-1935

by Sanderson Beck

   Ecuador, Moreno & Robles 1850-60
   Ecuador, Moreno & Theocracy 1861-75
   Ecuador under Veintemilla 1876-83
   Ecuador of Caamaño, Flores & Cordero 1883-95
   Ecuador & Alfaro’s Liberals 1895-1900
   Ecuador under Plaza & Alfaro 1901-11
   Ecuador & Liberals 1912-35

Ecuador, Moreno & Robles 1850-60

Ecuador 1830-50

      General José María Urvina and the lawyer Pedro Moncayo in Guayaquil were Liberals who feared the ex-President, General Juan José Flores. Vice President Manuel de Ascásubi became Interim President of Ecuador on 15 October 1849. General Urvina took control of Guayaquil to finance a revolution, and on 20 February 1850 he rejected Ascásubi who resigned on June 10.
      Diego Noboa y Arteta had been president of Ecuador’s Senate 1839-48. A constitutional convention met at Quito on December 8 and proclaimed him the Interim President of Ecuador. On 25 February 1851 they elected Noboa y Arteta President. On March 25 the Convention authorized the return of the Jesuits. Their new Constitution on April 10 restricted male suffrage by age, income, and literacy. Voting was by local assemblies that elected a National Assembly which could elect the president by a majority vote. Three Secretaries of State were responsible for 1) Interior, Foreign Relations, Religion, and Public Education, 2) Treasury and Welfare, and 3) War, Navy, and Police. The legislature was to choose a Council of five to act when they were not meeting. They affirmed free expression and barred the same person from having civil and military authority. They abolished capital punishment for political crimes and allowed commutation to exile. President Noboa removed 63 military officers, exiling General Elizalde and others.
      In the summer of 1851 García Moreno persuaded Noboa to let the Jesuits return to Ecuador. In December he published a pamphlet defending the Jesuits. He satirized President Urvina in his ode A Fabio.
      General José María Urvina had President Noboa arrested while he was traveling from Quito to Guayaquil and shipped him off to Costa Rica. General Urvino claimed the presidency in July 1851 at Guayaquil, and his army defeated governmental forces at Guaranda, Urvina, Villamil, and Quito which he entered on September 27.
      General Juan José Flores had been President of Ecuador three times since 1830. He led a naval expedition that invaded Ecuador in 1852, but they were defeated before reaching Guayaquil. There the National Assembly met on July 18 and passed Ecuador’s 5th constitution which was similar to Cuenca’s in 1845. The Assembly decreed free primary education for all, and the Jesuits were expelled again. On 27 September 1852 Ecuador ratified its 6th Constitution that abolished slavery, and many former slaves joined the army. The Indians had never been slaves.
      On 30 August 1852 the Assembly elected General José Urvina a constitutional President, and he served for over four years. On 28 October 1853 he decreed the option of independent studies at the University of Quito with only an exam for a degree. Conservatives objected to the lodges of Freemasons and Urvina’s control over church affairs. He directed an honor guard of coastal Negroes that used force to collect contributions for the Treasury and to drive out his opponents.
      Gabriel García Moreno was born on 24 December 1821. His father was a Spanish nobleman who invested in shipping; he died when Gabriel was a boy. His mother María de las Mercedes was a devout Catholic from a wealthy criollo family also descended from Spanish nobles. She instilled in her son Catholic piety, and he studied theology as well as law at the University of Quito. He took steps to become a priest; but his friends and his study of law led him to choose a secular vocation, and after graduating in 1844 he was admitted to the bar. As a lawyer and a journalist he opposed Ecuador’s liberal government. He had advocated tyrannicide at literary meetings in 1843. He married a wealthy lady in August 1846. He criticized the current Roca administration in El Zurrigo (The Whip) and El Diablo. From November 1846 to March 1847 he published El Vengador (The Avenger) to denounce the activities of General Juan José Flores. In 1849 García Moreno went to Europe, and while in England, France, and Germany from December 1850 to July 1851 he learned about the Revolution of 1848. On his way home he visited Panama where he met Jesuits who had been expelled from Colombia.
       In March 1853 García Moreno and two friends began publishing the weekly La Nación. He lived in Peru from July 1853 to April 1855. At that time he read and reread the 29 volumes of Histoire universelle de l’Eglise catholique by the Abbé René François Rohbacher. Moreno earned a doctorate in law and became alcalde (mayor) of Quito and rector of the University. He was elected a senator for the provinces of Pichincha and Imbabura in May 1857. He started the weekly La Unión Nacional, and he criticized Urvina, Robles, liberals, and freemasonry. In Ecuador’s first presidential election with popular suffrage in 1856 the Constitution did not allow Urvina to succeed himself. He endorsed Guayaquil’s governor, General Francisco Robles, who defeated the Senate’s president Manuel Bustamente, the liberal Pedro Moncayo, and the wealthy Manuel Gomez de la Torre. President Robles continued to improve education, and in 1857 the Congress abolished the head tax which natives had been paying since the Spanish conquest. He made a contract to help pay off the foreign debt that was not popular. Robles offended Peru when he ceded 16,000 square kilometers of land in the Oriente to pay British creditors. He quarreled with Peru’s minister Juan Celestino Cavero, and diplomatic relations were broken. With war threatened the Congress gave President Robles emergency powers and approved moving the capital to Riobamba before adjourning in 1858.
      On 21 September 1857 George S. Pritchett for the Ecuadorian Land Company, Ltd. signed a treaty with Ecuador’s Minister of Finance Francisco de Paula Icaza, that gave creditors rights to territories in Esmeraldas, some on shores of the Zamora river, one million quarter sections in the Canelos canton, and 410,200 quarter sections near the Cañar river for a total of 2,610,200 quarter sections worth £566,900. Diplomats from Peru and Ecuador argued over this in November. This “paper war” of diplomacy continued from April to August 1858. On October 26 Peru’s Congress approved sending President Ramón Castilla in command of an army against Ecuador. The Peruvian blockade was in place by November 4.
      In early January 1859 Peruvians invaded Puná Island in the Gulf of Guayaquil. President Francisco Robles moved Ecuador’s capital to Guayaquil, and he ordered it defended by General José María Urvina. On May 1 the municipal officers of Quito rejected Robles and declared a provisional government led by the triumvirate of Gabriel García Moreno, Ecuador’s Vice President Jerónimo Carrión, and former Vice President Pacifico Chiriboga. They were supported by the mountain provinces of Imbabura, Pichinchia, León, and Chimborazo. Urvina returned to Quito on June 17, and he moved north and defeated the triumvir’s forces in Ibarra. García Moreno published a manifesto in the July issue of El Comercio asking Ecuadorians to accept Peru as an ally against Robles. Moreno went to Guayaquil and met with General Guillermo Franco who agreed to renounce Robles and call for elections. On August 31 President Castilla neglected his commitment to Moreno and agreed with Franco to end the blockade of the Guayaquil port. On September 2 the triumvir’s forces overcame government troops in Imbabura, and two days later Quito’s Governor Borja y Lizarzaburu surrendered the city to the triumvirs.
      The people of Guayaquil ousted the Robles Governor Teodoro Maldonado. On September 6 General Guillermo Franco claimed that he was the supreme chief of Guayaquil and Cuenca. The triumvirate held the rest of Ecuador. On September 19 Manuel Carrión Pinzano established a government over Loja, El Oro and Zamora. On September 20 Castilla in a letter declared his support for the Provisional Government, and Cuenca did so on the 26th. Robles resigned and left Ecuador, and General Urvina went to Peru. Castilla brought forces from Peru to Guayaquil, and he met with General Franco on October 5. Moreno arrived on the 14th. When he learned that Franco had met with Castilla, he refused to talk to Peru’s President and ended their alliance. Castilla and Franco negotiated an alliance by November 8, and Castilla had 5,000 troops land. Moreno sent secret letters to the chargé d'affaires of France, Emile Trinité, on December 7, 15 and 21 asking France for a protectorate.
      On 25 January 1860 General Franco and Peru’s President Castilla agreed to the Treaty of Mapasingue that ceded to Peru the southern provinces with the Oriente in exchange for Peru recognizing Franco as the head of Ecuador’s government. This aroused protests, and the Manabí province and coast communities defected. The triumvirate recalled General Flores from Peru and gave him military command against Franco. In the battle of Guayaquil on September 22-24 the Provisional Government of Quito led by García Moreno and Juan José Flores defeated Franco and took 700 prisoners. Franco left the country on a Peruvian ship.

Ecuador, Moreno & Theocracy 1861-75

      On 10 January 1861 General Flores presided over a National Convention in Quito that elected García Moreno as Interim President and then to a four-year term on March 10. He was inaugurated on April 2 in the National Cathedral. Ecuador’s Congress annulled the Mapasingue Treaty in 1861, and Peru did so in 1863.
      In 1861 President García Moreno led Conservatives, and their new Constitution provided a congressional deputy for every 20,000 persons and strengthened the executive. They divided Guayaquil into the provinces Guayas and Los Rios which gave Conservatives control in Los Rios. Moreno punished corruption regardless of party, and he applied his salary to public service. On 4 January 1862 the United States Minister to Ecuador Friedrich Hassaurek wrote about Moreno in Despatch 11.

He is undoubtedly, a mixture of strange elements.
He is very ambitious, and as intolerant in religious matters,
as vindictive against political opponents.
He is an honest, but not a liberal-minded man;
he wants to do right in his own way; but he is cruel
against those who dare to differ from him in opinion.
He is a man of strong passions, and will govern absolutely,
looking on the members of his cabinet
as on his clerks, not his constitutional advisers.
But his efforts, aside from the persecutions
of his antagonists, are well-meant,
although sometimes badly directed;
and if he succeeds in his main object, the building of roads
from the coast through the now almost impassable interior,
the blessings thereby conferred on the country,
will be so great, that
his political sins ought to be pardoned.1

Moreno proposed that France’s Napoleon III either annex Ecuador or provide a protectorate. These ideas had been sent to the French Chargé d’affaires Emile Trinité in letters in December 1859. Negotiations went on until the spring of 1863 when they rejected the protectorate.
      Moreno reacted to a border skirmish with Peruvians in July 1862 by leading an untrained force that was defeated at Tulcan on the 31st. He and his Minister of War Daniel Salvador were captured and were released after recognizing Arboleda’s Grenadine Confederation. President Moreno negotiated a concordat with Pope Pius IX which was signed on 26 September 1862 and greatly increased the role of the Catholic Church in Ecuador with new dioceses created in Ibarra, Riobamba, and Loja on December 29. The Concordat was ratified and proclaimed on 18 April 1863, but in August a majority of the Congress rejected it as invalid without their approval, though they worked out a compromise on some issues. In May an Urbinist revolt was defeated in Guayaquil.
      During a civil war in Colombia a border incident resulted in Liberal General Mosquera’s followers fleeing into Ecuador. The Conservative Julio Arboleda’s followers pursued the Mosquerites across the border, and they wounded an Ecuadorian officer. Moreno reacted by calling Arboleda a chief robber. Arboleda moved his forces to cut off supplies, and on 31 July 1862 they defeated the Ecuadorians at Tulcán. Arboleda was assassinated on November 12. On 15 August 1863 Colombia’s President Mosquera called upon his people to aid Ecuadorians who opposed Moreno’s policies. Moreno sent an army of 7,000 men led by General Flores to invade Colombia, but on December 6 they were routed at Cuaspud and had 2,500 men killed and wounded with at least 2,200 captured. In 1863 Moreno promulgated Ecuador’s first concordat with Pope Pius IX.
      In June 1864 a conspiracy led by General Manuel Tomás Maldonado was discovered and squelched. Moreno in July declared Ecuador neutral in the war between Peru and Spain, but he allowed Spanish ships to get supplies in Ecuador’s ports. He quarreled with the Peruvian Chargé d’affaires Barranechea who left Quito. Moreno supported public works, notably the construction of a wagon road in 1862 to replace the mule path from Quito to Guayaquil. He reduced the army and imposed strict discipline including on officers. Moreno was criticized for promoting torture, for keeping his political opponents in prison, and for having 24 prisoners executed after the Jambeli revolt was suppressed in June 1865.
      In May 1865 Moreno’s chosen candidate, Jerónimo Carrión, was easily elected President over the Liberal Gómez de la Torre. Before Carrión was inaugurated on September 7, Moreno banished Gómez de la Torre and most of the Liberals who had just been elected to the Congress. President Carrión declined to make appointments that García Moreno wanted. Instead he put his relative, the Liberal anti-Garcian Dr. Manuel Bustamante in charge of the ministerial offices. He retained only the Minister of Interior and Foreign Relations. General Ignacio de Veintemilla, Moreno’s enemy, became Minister of War. President Carrión sent Moreno on a diplomatic mission to Chile. Carrión’s administration followed the Constitution, and he restored freedom of the press, allowing liberal publications to flourish.
      In elections for Congress in 1867 Dr. Manuel Angulo was elected to the Senate with 1,526 votes over García Moreno’s 442 votes. The Provincial Junta rejected Angulo’s election because he held another office. Liberals still dominated the Congress, and on August 23 they elected Pedro Carbo their president. When the Senate met, they declared Angulo elected senator for Pichincha, defeating Moreno who blamed the writer Juan Montalvo for his loss. Congress brought charges against Bustamante for nepotism and acting arbitrarily. Bustamante tried to arrest Senator Mestanza and four Congressmen. Congress refused to be dissolved to hold new elections, and on October 4 Bustamante resigned. To keep his position President Carrión appointed Conservatives and friends of García Moreno. Congress did not like Carrión’s administration, and on October 18 they voted to revoke the extraordinary powers given to the executive. They censured Bustamante on November 4 and barred him from office for two years. Moreno persuaded Carrión to resign. Moreno and others agreed on Dr. Javier Espinosa who was a moderate Liberal and a good Catholic, and he was elected to serve for one year starting in January 1868.
      Juan Montalvo founded El Joven Liberal, and President Espinosa promised voters a free choice in 1869. On 16 August 1868 an earthquake had devastated the cities of Ibarra and Otavalo and killed over 20,000 people. Espinosa appointed Moreno to supervise reconstruction. He suppressed Indian rebellions in the area, and he organized the distribution of food and clothing, rebuilding of roads and bridges, medical efforts to prevent epidemics, and care of widows and orphans. He was accused of buying a herd of cattle at a very low price.
      In 1869 Conservatives nominated García Moreno, and the Liberal candidate for president was the 70-year-old Francisco Javier Aguirre. Moreno claimed that an Urvinist conspiracy was planning to seize the government on February 10, and he took control on January 16 by going to the barracks of the artillery unit at Quito. He proclaimed himself the supreme chief, and the electoral committees were dissolved. A revolt led by General José de Veintemilla broke out in Guayaquil on March 19. Garcian partisans defeated them, and Veintemilla was executed. On May 16 a constitutional convention met in Quito, and the members supported Moreno’s ideas. On June 9 they approved Ecuador’s 8th constitution. In the nation 13,640 people voted to approve, and only 514 voted against. The Roman Catholic Church was established as the religion of Ecuador, and all its rights and privileges were protected. Any member of a society the church prohibited would lose citizenship. The president’s term was to be six years, and direct re-election to a second term was allowed. The president was given broad powers to overcome revolutionary activities including searches and expelling people, and he could collect taxes a year in advance.
      The Constitutional Convention elected the next president, and they chose Dr. García Moreno. He was inaugurated on August 10 with the motto “Religion y Patria.” Ecuador supported Pope Pius IX, and they sent a formal protest when Victor Emmanuel II occupied Rome on 20 September 1870, the year they granted the Pope 25,560 pesos. On Good Friday in a public procession President Moreno with insignia of his office marched carrying a large cross on his shoulders. Then he dedicated the republic to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. On October 8 the national Congress confirmed the decree of the Sacred Heart of Jesus as the nation’s patron and protector. That day became a civil holiday. Moreno’s policy made the church the nation’s official censor to decide which books and other writings were obscene, immoral, or opposed to church dogma.
      Moreno’s administration added 300 new schools to the 200 existing, and special schools were for the Indians. A law made attending school compulsory for children between 8 and 12 years. Some Indians revolted against the school taxes. The largest uprising in December 1871 was forcefully suppressed, and two chiefs were executed. A central highway connected Quito with Guayaquil, and Ecuador’s first railroad went from Milagro to Guayaquil.
      Juan Montalvo and Eloy Alfaro began working together against the government while they were in Panama in 1869. In 1870 Pedro Fermín Cevallos published the last volume of his Summary of the History of Ecuador which contained a table of ethnic, racial, and psychological classifications and was declared an “official text” in 1871. On 2 October 1874 Montalvo published his polemical pamphlet La dictadura perpetua. The government reacted by printing Don Juan Montalvo y la verdad contra el in Guayaquil. The young liberals Miguel Valverde and Federico Proaño had begun publishing La Nueva Era in October 1873. Moreno charged them with fomenting seditious articles injurious to the President, and he had them arrested on 10 November 1874. They were tried in Guayaquil and were found not guilty. Moreno appealed to the Supreme Court which exonerated them. On 15 February 1875 he banished them. On August 6 García Moreno went to attend the Feast of the Transfiguration of Christ at the cathedral. As he was returning to this office on the steps of his palace, three men shot him. Moreno was carried to the cathedral’s chapel where he was anointed and absolved before he died. Montalvo in Ipiales exclaimed, “It is my pen that killed him!”

Ecuador under Veintemilla 1876-83

      Ecuador held presidential elections in October 1875. Juan Montalvo promoted the educated Antonio Borrero, and he was elected with 38,637 votes to 3,583 for the moderate General Julio Saénz. Borrero was inaugurated in the national cathedral at Quito on December 9. He promised that as a sincere Catholic he would protect the religion and that in his administration there would be “full liberty of suffrage, lawful liberty of the press, and moreover, all legitimate liberties will be real and effective.”2 He appointed General Saénz as Minister of War and the Navy, the Liberal Francisco de Paula Icaza as Minister of Hacienda (Treasury), and he named the Liberal Manuel Gómez de la Torre as the most important Minister of the Interior and Foreign Relations. Many Jesuits were leaving the country. Conservatives backed a movement to replace Borrero, and they were defeated on 4 March 1876. Moreno’s chief of police was one of those arrested.
      Eloy Alfaro returned from Panama and urged Liberals in Manabí and Guayas to convoke a constitutional convention in order to replace Moreno’s Constitution. President Borrero called for a convention to meet in April 5, and he proposed amending the Constitution. The writer Juan Montalvo returned from Colombia on May 2 and was welcomed by young Liberals. Many believed that Interior Minister Gómez de la Torre was the problem. Montalvo called for his resignation, and the next day Gómez resigned. Borrero accepted that and then appointed the loyal Garcianist, José Rafael Arízaga instead of the respected Liberal Pedro Carbo. Dr. Marcos Alfaro in his El Popular criticized the church so much that the Archbishop of Quito and four other bishops stopped reading the newspaper. El Comercio and El Joven Liberal in Quito were also anti-clerical.
      Liberals in Guayaquil wanted change. General Ignacio de Veintemilla had replaced Gómez de la Torre as the military commandant in Guayaquil. Borrero in June appointed Veintemilla commander of the Military District of Guayas, and Liberals chose him to lead their revolt. Veintemilla had supported Moreno’s first administration, and now Conservatives called him “the Apostate.” Veintemilla asked for reinforcements at Guayaquil, and he reduced Borrero’s troops at Quito. Veintemilla on September 8 at Guayaquil pronounced his support for the great Liberal Party and its principles; he opposed Borrero’s policies. Veintemilla proclaimed himself the supreme chief of the republic and captain-general of the army, and he announced that the Constitution of 1861 would replace the 1869 Garcian “Black Charter of Slavery to the Vatican.” On September 13 President Borrero declared,

   By El Popular one knows that those who aid the revolution
are those who deny the Divinity of Christ
and are certain that the nation is more sovereign than God.
If you are a nation of religious men,
defend our God, fighting atheism.3

      Col. Veintemilla had bought arms and ammunition from a New York company, and 1,000 Remington rifles and 500,000 rounds of ammunition arrived in November. His troops controlled the coast and therefore imports and customs revenues. On Ecuador’s Independence Day holiday on October 9 Juan Montalvo published his pamphlet Boletin de la Paz: El ejemplo es oro (Bulletin of Peace: The Golden Example). He asserted, “The essence of a just revolution is liberty, prosperity, dignity, enlightenment, the grandeur of a nation.”4 He said these could be achieved by prudence, good judgment, and love while he rejected war which is “iniquitous” and “not our revolution.” Montalvo proposed a provisional government led by one man from each of the three Departments of Pichincha, Guayas, and Azuay, and he named three men he recommended. On December 14 Veintemilla’s army defeated Borrero’s forces at Loma de los Molinos while General Urbino was overcoming the Constitutionalist forces at the Pass of Galte. Then Veintemilla and Urbino combined their armies and marched into Quito. Borrero was arrested, and after a few months in prison he went into exile for seven years.
      On 1 February 1877 the Supreme Chief Veintemilla decreed that education would be secular, and on March 2 he decreed,

   Ecclesiastics who, by pastoral letters,
sermons, or other means,
endeavor to alarm the consciences of the faithful,
with the aim of exciting them to rebellion and anarchy,
will be sent outside the territory of the Republic.5

On June 28 his decree suspended the Concordat of 1862, and he reinstated the old Gran Colombian law on ecclesiastical patronage from 1824. Riobamba’s Bishop José Ignacio Ordoñez and the Bishop of Loja criticized that. When the Italian Franciscan Gago preached to about 20,000 people in Quito’s Plaza de San Francisco, a riot erupted. Then on Good Friday on March 30 the Archbishop of Quito was murdered by strychnine in the wine. Conservatives planned a revolt for May 4 to bring back Borrero as president, and government troops quelled the conspiracy. Some Conservative instigators were banished for a while. Bishop Ordoñez issued a pastoral letter excommunicating Veintemilla. In late October the Conservative General Manuel Santiago Yépez led a thousand men in an attack on Quito, and in twenty hours of fighting the government forces led by General Cornelio Vernaza defeated them. General Urbino presided over a court martial that condemned three of the Conservative leaders to death. Juan Montalvo argued that the Liberals should be more merciful. He suggested sentences of five years in prison, and his proposal was accepted. General Vernaza had requested military aid from Colombia, and about 3,000 men arrived at Quito after the battle. They refused to leave unless they were paid 10,000 pesos to pay for their expedition. Montalvo wrote several articles on this standoff, and he warned against the precedent of Liberal partisans intervening in other Latin American nations.
      Veintemilla on July 28 summoned a convention to write a new constitution for Ecuador. They met at Ambato on 26 January 1878. They began by electing Veintemilla an Interim President, and they completed the 9th Constitution on May 31. The Liberals abolished the death penalty for homicide, and they banned the use of torture, flagellation, forced contributions, confiscating property, and banishment. They made primary education compulsory and allowed individuals to found schools. They extended amnesty to some exiled clergymen. Eloy Alfaro was still conspiring against the government, and President Veintemilla ordered him imprisoned. Juan Montalvo was also driven into hiding with friends, and finally in September 1879 he left Ecuador for voluntary exile. From there he launched a Ciceronian attack writing twelve pamphlets that he called “The Catilinades, or The Two-Edged Sword.” Alfaro paid for the first publications that were also printed in La Estrella de Panamá from March 1880 to January 1882. These personal attacks criticized Veintemilla severely for many things, and the purpose was to bring down his government. Montalvo accused him of corruption and many crimes, and he considered him another tyrant like García Moreno.
      Veintemilla’s administration negotiated a new concordat with Pope Leo XIII that was signed on 2 May 1881 and was ratified by March 1882, and it was similar to the Concordat of 1862. With “The Transformation” (golpe de estado) President Veintemilla assumed dictatorial powers on 26 March 1882. Conservatives blamed him for murdering Vicente Piedrahita and Checa y Barba, the Archbishop of Quito. To avoid elections he sent General Vernaza to command the Army of the Interior and strategic garrisons. He had designated Leopoldo Salvador on March 15 to have executive power so that he could go to Guayaquil to lead the troops. On March 26 the Municipal Council proclaimed Ignacio Veintemilla the Supreme Chief of the Republic with dictatorial power. News of this spread, and leaders in the province of Manabí on April 6 denounced The Transformation, and they proclaimed Eloy Alfaro as their supreme chief. After some early successes Alfaro had to retreat and reorganize his campaign. Alfaro’s secretary Miguel Valverde, who was their provisional government’s minister-general, was betrayed by foreigners and imprisoned on November 8. Valverde refused to cooperate, and Veintemilla ordered 300 lashes. Montalvo in Paris wrote his protest as Stripes for Virtues (Azotes por Virtudes), and it was reprinted in Panama and Ecuador.
      The Restorers led by Alfaro and General Francisco Javier Salazar took over Quito from the government troops on 11 January 1883. Three days later Conservatives and Liberals established a provisional government and declared the first Garcian Constitution of 1861 in force. Alfaro began another campaign in Esmeraldas and Manabí proclaiming on February 8 a Liberal triumvirate with himself, Pedro Carbo, and General José María Sarasti. On May 25 Alfaro’s troops met with the Pentavirate provisional government at Mapasingue, but they could not agree to merge. On July 9 the Restorers took over Guayaquil, ending the dictatorship. Veintemilla fled on an English steamship. In the election for Deputies 35 Conservatives and 27 Liberals gained seats in the Chamber.

Ecuador of Caamaño, Flores & Cordero 1883-95

      José María Placido Caamaño was born on 5 October 1838 in Guayaquil into a distinguished family. He attended public schools and earned a doctoral degree in jurisprudence at the Central University of Quito. He acquired wealth by commercial and agricultural businesses. He avoided politics until he supported Liberals in 1875. Caamaño was for Veintemilla’s revolution on 8 September 1876; but he became disillusioned by Veintemilla’s policies and supported Liberals. After the Transformation on 26 March 1882 Caamaño opposed the dictatorship, and he was arrested and deported to Peru with many conspirators. At Lima he organized resistance and used his money to support the Restorers’ forces. When he returned to Ecuador in early 1883, they made him a general. After Guayaquil fell, he resigned his commission. The Restorers captured Quito and made Caamaño a member of the pentavirate.
      On October 15 Ecuador’s convention chose the Garcian Conservative José Placido Caamaño as the Interim President. In February 1884 he was proclaimed President of Ecuador, and he served until the end of June 1888. He increased primary school enrollment to 53,000 students with 23 secondary schools for boys and girls. Veintemilla had closed the Central University. Caamaño reopened it on 13 February 1884, and he revived the Institute of Sciences. The Polytechnic School was combined with the School of Agriculture. Military and naval schools were founded in Quito and Guayaquil. His administration took a census that estimated the population at 1,200,000. Caamaño started National Archives, reorganized the treasury, increased tariff revenues, and reformed the customs service to stop smuggling. To end civil disorder in 1885 he established a national police force. He extended roads and improved the national road and funded railroad construction on the coastal plain and in the mountains in 1885 paid for by the $200,000 annual income from the salt monopoly. Gold mining in El Oro paid for railroads in the South. Caamaño believed in harmony between church and state, and in 1888 he told the Congress,

   God, cause of all good, has guided our steps;
He has sustained us
against the continual attacks of turbulent enemies;
He has strengthened us
amid difficult situations of every sort;
His light has shown us the way;
and you and I ought to render to Him a testimony
of thanksgiving for the benefits which in this epoch,
He bountifully has poured forth upon the Republic.6

      His administration also enforced religious laws in the articles of the Constitution to prevent divination, dream interpretation, and superstitious actions. Crimes included exhuming cadavers, profaning churches with immoral acts, uttering blasphemous words, and jesting of God, the Virgin Mary, saints, or church dogmas. Plays with expressions contrary to religion, morality, and good customs were prohibited. On 29 June 1885 Caamaño renewed Ecuador’s consecration to the Sacred Heart of Jesus that García Moreno had started. Dr. Ordóñez as the Archbishop of Quito was the head of the Ecuadorian Church from 1882 until his death on 14 June 1893.
      Liberal Juan Benigno Vela (1843-1920) was a blind lawyer and journalist in Ambato, and he criticized the neo-Garcian government in his newspaper El Combate from January 1883 to May 1888. He was often arrested and imprisoned for violating the 1883 law against blind people practicing law. Archbishop Ordóñez in a pastoral letter on 19 February 1884 condemned Montalvo’s Seven Treatises that was put on the Index of Prohibited Books. Montalvo responded by writing his polemical Mercurial eclesiástica. Ordóñez in July persuading the owner of the Panama Star and Herald and the Spanish La Estrella de Panamá to stop including reports on Montalvo or his work. Montalvo’s last work was printed in El Espectador at Paris on 15 March 1888.
      In 1887 Nicolás Martínez published articles for newspapers that criticized concertaje labor laws that tied Indians to haciendas by debt that was a harsher slavery than that of blacks. He wrote,

The Indians are the true pariahs of Ecuador;
they have no political rights and the Constitution
and the laws have not been written for them….
With such elements,
can there be a true Republic in Ecuador?7

      During Ecuador’s elections in the first week of March 1888 General Eloy Alfaro was in exile, and moderate Liberals nominated Dr. Luis Cordero of Cuenca. Conservatives offered General Agustin Guerrero with Dr. Camilo Ponce of Quito. President Caamaño endorsed his brother-in-law, Dr. Antonio Flores Jijón, with Dr. Pedro José Cevallos Salvador for vice president. Although Antonio Flores Jijón was a diplomat in Europe, he was elected with 29,555 votes to 777 for Eloy Alfaro. Pope Leo XIII persuaded Flores to accept the presidency, and Flores Jijón returned to Quito and was inaugurated on 17 August 1888.
      Antonio Flores Jijón was born on 23 October 1833 in the National Palace. His father, General Juan José Flores, was Ecuador’s first president. Antonio attended a public school at Latacunga, and he was tutored by Bolívar’s tutor Simon Rodríguez who sent him to Paris for secondary education. After his father’s second administration ended with a revolution on 6 March 1845, Antonio left Europe to join his mother at Lima, Peru where he studied at San Marcos University. In 1858 Antonio Flores Jijón began teaching political science at the university. In September 1860 he returned to Ecuador with García Moreno who sent him as a diplomat to Paris, London, Rome, Madrid, and Washington. At London he negotiated a loan from Queen Victoria for a highway in southern Ecuador. When he returned, Moreno made Flores the Treasury Minister. When his father was a candidate for vice president, the Flores relationship with Moreno deteriorated. Antonio Flores resigned, and in a special mission at Bogotá he negotiated an alliance with Colombia that General Tomás Mosquera later renounced. In 1864 Ecuador’s Congress directed that the 1862 Concordat be revised, and Antonio Flores was sent to Rome where he negotiated for a year. After coming home he was sent as an emissary to Chile and Peru.
      While at Washington in 1874 Flores Jijón married a Cuban woman. He returned to Guayaquil on 16 September 1875, and the next day he published his political program. Montalvo satirized it and called Flores a “simpleton.” Flores was upset by Veintemilla’s seizing power and suspending the 1862 Concordat. He wrote two refutations of the government’s arguments, and soldiers arrested him on 11 December 1877 for four days before he was sent to the United States. Flores lived in New York from 1878 to 1883. After the War of the Restoration broke out, he went back to Ecuador and fought at Guayaquill to end Veintemilla’s dictatorship. Reforms he advocated included suppressing the tithe to the church and giving women the vote. During the presidential campaign in 1875 Flores outlined these progressive principles:

1. Sovereignty emanates from God
2. Republican government best suits American nations
3. As the national religion, Roman Catholicism
   is to be respected and protected
4. Licit liberty, to be exercised free from the unjust laws
   imposed by the caprice or tyranny of men
5. The right of individuals to be secure in life and property
6. Duty requires a faithful performance of one’s obligations
   to God, fatherland, neighbors, and self;
   it does not obligate one
   to give blind obedience to would-be tyrants
7. Popular election of government officials
8. Just representation to be accorded to minorities
9. Equality before the law for all citizens
10. Decentralization of government
11. Mutual cooperation between the legislature,
   executive, and judicial branches of government
12. Protection of the nation’s territorial integrity,
   and rejection of all foreign armed intervention
   in Ecuador’s internal affairs
13. Enhancement of the nation’s credit
14. Governmental protection of agriculture,
   business, and industry,
   especially by improving the means of communication
15. Promotion of immigration
   and the colonization of government-owned vacant lands
16. Improvement of public education,
   the preeminent obligation of the executive power
17. Rejection of the penalty of confiscation of property
18. Prudently restrained freedom of the press,
   avoiding conflict with the rights of others
19. Freedom of association
20. Militarism, while rejected, should not interfere
   with the honest, patriotic, and noble exercise
   of the profession of arms
21. Clergymen should neither be elected to public office,
nor should they intervene in political affairs.8

      On 17 August 1888 President Antonio Flores Jijón called for “Morality and Work; Fraternity and Justice; Liberty and Order.” He attempted to conciliate the Liberal leader Alfaro and Montalvo, “the Sword and Pen of Ecuadorian Liberalism.” Flores appointed Montalvo the consul at Bordeaux. He made Juan Benigno Vela a member of his cabinet for public works. One of his first actions was to go to the Panopticon penitentiary and release the 43 political prisoners. At the end of the first session of the Congress he decreed amnesty for exiles. His government bought 500 copies of the Historia general del Ecuador by the Rev. Dr. Federico González Suárez, and he distributed them to law courts, public libraries, and secondary schools. He directed the revision of the civil law code, public education law, and reforms on tariffs, internal revenue, and fiscal measures. He founded the National Bank of Quito. His diplomatic experience helped the Congress ratify peace and friendship treaties with Italy, Switzerland, Guatemala, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and Bolivia.
      On 6 October 1888 Flores Jijón notified Pope Leo XIII that Congress approved four apostolic vicariates in the Amazon region, and the Pope assigned missionaries sending Jesuits to the Napo River, Dominicans to Canelos and Macas, Franciscans to Zamora, and Salesians to Galaquiza. Leo XIII also sent Archbishop Macchi as his apostolic delegate to Ecuador with a special benediction to President Flores, and in negotiations from 1 July 1889 to November 16 they agreed to abolish government tithes.
      General Francisco Javier Salazar was going to be the Flores administration’s candidate for president, but on 21 September 1891 he died of yellow fever in Guayaquil. On that day Guayaquil’s Governor José María Placido Caamaño announced that the official candidate was going to be Dr. Luis Cordero of Cuenca. In March 1892 Archbishop Ordóñez wrote to Cordero advising him that clerical rights and the freedoms of the church were guaranteed by the Concordat, and he warned that oppressing the clergy was oppressing the Fatherland. Cordero responded with a public manifesto in which he promised to uphold the church over the state whenever there was a conflict.
      The Conservatives nominated Dr. Camilo Ponce. In the 1892 election Cordero received 32,467 votes to 17,842 for Ponce. Cordero was born on 6 April 1833 in Cuenca, and he too earned a doctorate in jurisprudence from the Central University in Quito. He preferred to teach, and he wrote poetry. He did so in Quechua, and he compiled a Quechua dictionary. He founded Cuenca’s first daily newspaper and wrote for other periodicals. He became a professor of philosophy and literature and a dean at the national college. Cordero as a deputy in Congress introduced a bill to found universities in Guayaquil and Cuenca.
      Cordero’s presidency began on 1 July 1892. In his inaugural address he announced his motto “Justice, Peace, and Progress.” He repeated his policy that places the church above the state, and this would stimulate much opposition. Federico González Suárez in the fourth volume of his General History of the Republic of Ecuador wrote about clerical immorality in the late colonial and early national periods. This caused much controversy, and Dominicans wanted the book put on the Index of Prohibited Books.
      Cordero intended to continue the policies of the Flores administration promoting education and public works that included hospitals, electricity, and irrigation projects. On 25 October 1893 the Peruvian Congress demanded that changes be made to the treaty they signed at Quito in May 1890. Ecuador refused, and Peru did not ratify the treaty. On July 25 Ecuador withdrew its ratification. This conflict got mixed up with Japan’s war in 1894 and Chile’s Esmeralda cruiser. On December 13 the Quitenian Youth published a pamphlet that denounced “the Ring’s unbearable government.” On 3 February 1895 a celebration of the centennial of Sucre’s birth was marred by a protest that increased calls for Cordero’s resignation. In early 1895 Liberals and Conservatives accused the administration of “selling our sacred and blessed banner.” Cordero submitted his resignation to the Council of State on April 16, and it was immediately accepted. He found refuge in the Colombian Legation and went home to Cuenca.
      By 1894 Ecuador had 83,377 students on all levels. By then Ecuador’s economy was declining, and on June 26 the Congress suspended payments on the national debt until they could agree on a price for silver. Congress mandated that 10% of the customs duties be put in escrow twice a month for paying obligations. Cordero approved that on July 30 and was criticized for capitulating to that economic sector. In appropriations for 1895-96 Ecuador for the first time was spending more for education than for the military.

Ecuador & Alfaro’s Liberals 1895-1900

      José Eloy Alfaro was born on 25 June 1842 in Manabí province. His father was a Spanish merchant and his mother was a wealthy mestiza. He admired General Urvina and led revolts against the Garcian government. After defeats he escaped to Panama where his business skill made him wealthy. He married a rich woman in January 1872. In 1874 he funded the publication of Juan Montalvo’s anti-Garcian polemic, La dictadura perpetua. He communicated with Liberals in Ecuador. Alfaro supported Nicolás Infante’s conspiracy against President Borrero on 2 May 1876 and then fled to Panama. Alfaro returned to Ecuador and supported the Revolution on September 8. Captain Alfaro was Urvina’s aide-de-camp in the Galte battle. Col. Alfaro disagreed with Urvina and returned to Panama in 1877. He came back to Guayaquil in April 1878, and with Miguel Valverde he opposed President Veintemilla’s abuses. Valverde was exiled, and Alfaro was arrested on November 27. His imprisonment was protested by Montalvo in his pamphlet Eloy Alfaro published on December 31. Alfaro worked to make Antonio Flores Jijon president, and he was put in a dungeon. Montalvo wrote The Perpetual Shackles in January 1879. On March 3 Alfaro signed a petition against Veintemilla’s policies and was exiled to Panama. He promised not to return to Ecuador; but when Veintemilla’s Transformation made him dictator on 26 March 1882, breaking his agreement to free prisoners, Alfaro declared that freed him of his promise. He worked for newspapers in Panama. His money was running out in the 1870s, and he used the remainder to finance the publication of Montalvo’s polemical Las Castilinarias.
      In June 1882 General Alfaro went to Ecuador to support the War of the Restoration, and he was proclaimed the chief of the Esmeraldas and Manabí provinces. Their forces at Guayaquil drove Veintemilla out of Ecuador. Pentavirs promised free elections, but many Liberals were excluded from the National Convention in 1883. Police in Quito destroyed the press of El Siglo (The Age). Caamaño was elected President, and Alfaro discharged his army and went back to Panama, saying “I am an enemy of war while the resources of peace are unexhausted.”9 Reforms made during the war were nullified, and suppression of tithing was revoked. Alfaro had started two colleges; but they were suppressed because he was considered a heretic. Liberal editors were persecuted. Horatio N. Beach was the United States consul at Guayaquil, and in February 1884 he wrote,

   The Liberals are all dissatisfied with church rule.
Gen. Alfaro has been denounced in the convention.
Men are being exiled for their political opinions.
The army is being increased by forcible seizure of men
and putting them in the ranks.
These do not appear to be cohesive elements
and influences, therefore the probabilities
favor divisions and disintegration.10

      General Alfaro corresponded with revolutionary committees, and the presidents of Guatemala and El Salvador sent money and a ship. Alfaro bought rifles, bayonets, and ammunition from the United States that arrived on November 10. Panama’s government sent 500,000 bullets and weapons. Alfaro led the revolt, and the Council of State at Quito gave the President extraordinary powers. Both sides accused each other of being pirates. Alfaro’s army reached Esmeraldas on November 23. Government forces defeated his Radical Liberals at Portoviejo on December 1, and Alfaro lost 80 men. Alfaro retreated, fought a battle at sea, and then escaped to Colombia on 7 February 1885. He moved on to Guatemala and El Salvador where he wrote an account of his campaign. In March 1886 he went to Lima, Peru and was there until 1889.
      On 18 November 1886 Col. Luis Vargas Torres led rebels from Peru, and on December 2 they captured the capital city of Loja. Government forces regained the city five days later, and after a court martial Torres was executed in March 1887.
      Alfaro wrote satirical pamphlets and called the Caamaño and Flores families “The Stupid Dynasty.” From 1889 to 1895 Alfaro traveled to Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil, and Venezuela, and twice he visited the United States where he met with Cuba’s José Martí.
      By January 1885 firing squads had already executed three Alfarists. An attempt to assassinate Caamaño killed only the President’s aide on 6 January 1886. Caamaño’s Congress extended the death penalty for treason, arson, pillage, and piracy.
      On 5 February 1895 Eloy Alfaro proclaimed to fellow citizens that he would come and march with them for liberty. In June a Junta of Notables in Guayaquil invited General Alfaro to come home and take power.
      Vice President Vicente Lucio Salazar had assumed executive power on April 16. Alfarists rose up in the coastal provinces at Esmeralda and Chone. After three days of rioting against the government in Guayaquil the Radical Liberals were victorious on June 5, and in an open town meeting a junta of Notables adopted the following actions:

1. Disowned the Salazar government
and the 1883 Constitution
2. Named General Eloy Alfaro as the Republic’s
supreme chief and general in chief of the army
3. Conceded to Alfaro ample powers to reconstruct the nation
4. Requested the convocation of a National Convention
to draw up a new constitution; and
5. Provided for an interim government
pending Alfaro’s return from Central America.11

This document was signed by 15,784 citizens. News of this reached Quito on June 7. Azogues, the capital of Cañar province, pronounced for Alfaro on June 14, and other Sierra provinces soon followed. On the 18th Alfaro arrived at Guayaquil on a German steamship, and the next day for the new government he chose a cabinet and put the 1878 Constitution into effect. He assured people that he had no hatred or desire for revenge, and he hoped to embrace all his compatriots. On June 21 Alfaro at the feast of Corpus Christi ordered his soldiers to show homage to the procession of the Blessed Sacrament, and he gave artificial flowers to the Church of San Francisco which had welcomed him. These actions reassured some Catholics.
      In Quito the ill Salazar had transferred his executive power to the president of the Senate, Carlos Matheus Pacheco. The government’s supporters there were Conservatives who supported Garcian policies and Progressives who considered religion a private matter. General José Maria Sarasti commanded the army, and on June 9 they left and occupied Riobamba without opposition. Alfaro had obtained modern rifles for his infantry and a Krupp cannon for his artillery. He led a diverse army that was as large as Sarasti’s. The army of Liberals marched toward the capital and reach Quito on July 20. Alfaro proclaimed that his policy was “to assure the triumph of the Liberal program and to establish political morality in opposition to the corrupting system of vandalism, depredations, and iniquitous transactions.
      On July 25 Alfaro gave executive power to his Council of Ministers, and he left with 3,000 men on a train for the Sierra. On August 6 a Liberal division led by Co. Vernaza were victorious at San Miguel de Chimbo. Alfaro’s contingent reached Guamote at 10,000 feet on August 10, and on the way to Chimborazo province they were reinforced by 10,000 Indians led by their chiefs. Alfaro conferred with them and removed the territorial tax and subsidiary service. He ordered military and civilian officials to treat Indians as citizens of Ecuador, and he established schools for them.
      The two opposing armies fought a decisive battle at Gatazo on August 14 and 15. On the first day Sarasti’s men took over the trenches of the Liberals, but the next day Sarasti ordered his men to retreat to San Juan. Some released prisoners. The next day Alfaro used a cannon that helped the Liberals defeat the government troops, and many of them joined the Liberals. Alfaro granted amnesty to all who quit their government jobs or turned in their weapons within five days. He released prisoners who promised not to fight against the Liberal government. The Liberals won again at Gíron on August 22, and three days later they took over Cuenca. Salazar found refuge in the Peruvian Legation, and Acting President Matheus Pacheco resigned. The Minister of the Interior was Dr. Aparicio Ribadeneira, and he fled north with a few soldiers to Tulcán.
      Alfaro found the capital at Quito quiet and not enthusiastic. On September 12 he and his Council of Members by decree appointed Alfarists to the Supreme Court, superior courts, and to the Exchequer. He used soldiers and others dressed as peasants called “garroteros” to destroy opposition presses and terrorize the government’s opponents. On 6 March 1896 Alfaro decreed there would be an election of delegates to the National Convention of 1896-97. Clergymen were not allowed to be delegates, though government employees could be. On October 10 the delegates unanimously elected Alfaro the Interim President of Ecuador. Then the Convention held four secret sessions to consider the political situation, to approve the transfer to Quito, to ascertain the Treasury’s condition, and to exam reports of a conspiracy to start a revolt to grant the government extraordinary powers.
      On 12 January 1897 they proclaimed a new constitution that was similar to the one in 1883 except on religious provisions. The next day they elected Eloy Alfaro a Constitutional President and Dr. Manuel Benigno Cueva a Constitutional Vice President. The Council of State took their oaths of office on January 17. The Convention in February ordered the Ecuadorian Legation at the Vatican closed until the concordat was reformed. On March 3 Alfaro asked the Convention to approve building a railroad between Guayaquil and Quito, and the construction contract was signed on June 14. On April 19 the Convention approved other building projects. The Convention had stayed in session until June 14 in order to supervise elections for the Council of State, the Supreme Court, and the Exchequer.
      In October 1900 President Alfaro got the Civil Registry Act passed that established the government’s registry of births, marriages, and deaths and took control of cemeteries away from the church. During Congressional elections on November 12 General Leonidas Plaza Gutiérrez published a program to continue the policies of Alfaro calling for “Liberty, Tolerance, Civilization, and Progress.”

Ecuador under Plaza & Alfaro 1901-11

      Leónidas Plaza Gutiérrez was born on 18 April 1865 in Minabí. His parents were from Spain and had lived in Colombia before moving to Ecuador. At age 18 Leónidas Plaza joined Ecuador’s military, and he fought for Alfaro in the War of the Restoration. He was a captain on the Alajuela and was promoted to the rank of major. In 1884 he accompanied Alfaro in the long journey through the jungle to Colombia. In August 1885 Plaza went to El Salvador where President Meléndez recognized him as a major. He was put in command of the garrison at Santa Ana and later became governor of La Unión. Plaza was made a general during El Salvador’s war against Guatemala. After being involved in General Amaya’s failed plot, Plaza was expelled and went to Nicaragua and then to Costa Rica where he became the commander of Alajuela.
      Plaza returned to Ecuador on 6 January 1895 during Alfaro’s Revolution. He fought at Gatazo and was put in charge of a battalion. Plaza was appointed the Governor of Azuay province in 1896. He was in the National Assembly of 1896-97, and they confirmed that he was a general. In 1900 Alfaro appointed him the commander of the army on the coast. Plaza was a deputy for Tungurahua province, and the Congresses of 1900 and 1901 elected him president of the Chamber of Deputies.
      In the presidential election in January 1901 the Liberals’ candidate Leónidas Plaza got 65,781 votes; the wealthy merchant Lizardo García received 7,912, and General Franco had only 182. Those favoring Plaza now dominated the army and Congress. His administration stopped persecution of Conservatives, abolished the secret police, and protected freedom of the press. He continued Alfaro’s public works programs, and in 1903 they began using steel bridges instead of wooden ones. Congress cooperated with him more than they did with Alfaro, and on 3 October 1902 the civil marriage and divorce laws became effective. The Catholic Church reacted against this and warned those using the civil marriage and divorce laws that they would be excommunicated. Government advised that those with a religious marriage before a civil one could be fined or imprisoned under the new law. Minors not yet 18 needed the consent of their parents or guardians to marry. The new law defined the legal grounds for divorce.
      From December 1900 to March 1903 there were minor clashes between Peru and Ecuador by the Napo River and its tributaries. More serious were the conflicts at Angoteras in June 1903 and at the mouth of the Curaray River in July 1904. On October 22 Ecuador’s Foreign Minister Miguel Valverde and Peru’s ambassador, Dr. Mariano H. Cornejo, agreed to submit the conflict over Peru’s garrison at Torre Casuana to the royal commissioner. Menéndez Pidal on 29 January 1905 gained an agreement for the mutual withdrawal of forces to Quito, and they were carried out in April.
      Ecuador and Brazil signed a treaty on 6 May 1904. Colombia’s Congress did not ratify the Pardo-Tanco Treaty. Ecuador’s Minister to Colombia, General Julio Andrade, and Colombia’s plenipotentiary Julio Betancourt agreed to let Germany arbitrate the border dispute, and they signed a treaty in Bogotá on November 5.
      On 5 June 1904 Alfarists had met to select a Liberal nominee for President, and they decided to ask Eloy Alfaro and his nephew Flavio Alfaro, General Franco, President Plaza, and Lizardo García each to name six delegates to a Liberal Party nominating convention. Plaza and García declined. Those remaining chose Eloy Alfaro’s choice, Ignacio Robles, in late August.
      In his message to Congress in 1904 President Plaza asked for religious toleration, public education, expelling or suppressing religious communities with executive supervision, and abolishing vows for life. He opposed clergy having any public office, and the Congress cooperated with his programs. On October 13 they passed the Law of Religions. They banned any new religious communities in Ecuador. All convents and monasteries were subject to the government supervising them by the Boards of Health and Hygiene and by the police. Religious communities could not accept novices who were less than 18 years old. Churches with funds over the approved budget must apply them to charity or public works in their province. The prohibition on collecting tithes, first fruits, and mortuary or other fees was confirmed, and violators were subject to civil law. Priests and ministers were banned from public speech against the constitution or laws or any established political party. On 1 April 1905 President Leónidas Plaza married the daughter of the Spanish consul.
      Lizardo García was a business man and a banker, and in 1889 he co-founded the Chamber of Commerce. Eloy Alfaro had made him the Minister of Hacienda and Public Works in June 1895, and he was the Senator from Guayas province from 1898 to 1904. García did not like Alfaro’s polices and became a supporter of Plaza. He opposed the railroad contract, and that made Alfaro angry. In the 1905 election between three Liberal candidates Lizardo García received 64,369 votes which was 93% of the total, and he became President on 1 September 1905. The Congress appointed Eloy Alfaro and a commission to codify Ecuador’s military laws, and they met in November. Alfaro issued a manifesto to the Radical Liberal Party to unite all Liberals. On December 1 a directory was organized to plan a coup. On 1 January 1906 rebels in Riobamba and Guaranda declared Alfaro the supreme chief, and on January 13 his forces won the battle at Chasqui. In a short civil war they overthrew García on January 15, and he left for Europe. General Franco surrendered on January 16. The next day Alfaro entered Quito and claimed the presidency.
      A National Assembly was planned, and in late July 1906 the questionable elections provided 63 Alfarist deputies and no Conservatives. The Convention met on October 9 in Quito and elected Eloy Alfaro again as an Interim President. He announced his cabinet the next day. The National Assembly produced a liberal constitution on December 23 that mandated freedom of conscience, free and secular education, and religious toleration. They abolished the death penalty, made clergy ineligible for election to Congress, and required the President to take the oath of office in the Congress. General Antonio Vega had started a revolt in November in Azuay province, and government troops defeated him in Cañar province on December 9. They took Vega prisoner, and he was killed while in custody. On December 25 they elected Eloy Alfaro for a second constitutional term that was to end on 31 August 1911.       In late March 1907 labor riots on railroad projects had broken out in Ambato, Quito, and Guayaquil. Troops fired on mobs and killed several people and wounded many more. The government closed the University of Guayaquil, and the garroteros attacked students. Conservatives and Independents united against the Liberal regime, and they began a revolt at Quito in late April. On July 19 an attempt to assassinate President Alfaro failed. Some soldiers and police changed sides, and Alfaro led the troops against them. The opposition suffered heavy casualties, and 11 government supporters were killed. Court martials sentenced 15 men to death and others to solitary confinement. On July 29 seven had their sentences commuted to solitary confinement, and a firing squad executed the other eight.
      On 14 October 1908 Congress passed the Law of Charity that nationalized the property of religious communities. No more than one half of the income was to go to monks and nuns, and it was to be paid to individuals, not to the orders. Ecuador had a large foreign debt of 27,950,000 sucres and a domestic debt of about 11 million. The annual revenues were only about 12 million. The United States Minister William C. Fox noted that civilian employees were often four months behind in receiving their salaries.
      Border disputes between Ecuador and Peru were not solved by attempts at arbitration, though in June 1910 both sides agreed to withdraw their forces from the frontier. President Alfaro officially endorsed Emilio Estrada for president, and in January 1911 he received 103,024 votes which was over 90% of the total. Alfaro changed his mind about Estrada who was in poor health. President Alfaro called the Congress to meet in a special session on July 26 to annul the election and elect someone else. They were very divided and could not agree on anyone. On August 7 some military leaders and civilians in Quito telegraphed Estrada and demanded that he resign. Estrada refused and replied that a civil war would be their work, not his.
      Congress began a regular session on August 10 and elected Carol Freile Zaldumbide president of the Senate. The next day an uprising in Quito drove Alfaro from his office. After investigating the election the Congress on August 18 confirmed that Estrada won. He took the oath of office on September 1. He was ill and relied on Dr. Octavio Díaz, the Minister of Interior and the Police, who tried to form an alliance with the Conservatives. Estrada came to realize that Plaza and Alfaro were his enemies. Estrada died on December 21, and that made Zaldumbide the Acting President. Also on that day General Plaza began his campaign for president, and General Flavio Alfaro was proclaimed the supreme chief in Esmeralda province.

Ecuador & Liberals 1912-35

      General Pedro Montero supported Eloy Alfaro for president and proclaimed himself supreme chief in Guayaquil on 28 December 1911. He asked Alfaro to return from Panama and promised to turn over his forces to him. Eloy Alfaro left Balboa, Panama on December 30 and reached Guayaquil on 4 January 1912. He proposed that the three chief contenders send representatives to a conference to choose a civilian candidate for president. Both Flavio Alfaro and General Leonidas Plaza rejected that. Acting President Carol Freile Zaldumbide on December 26 had decreed that presidential elections would be held on January 28-31. Another short civil war occurred. Many on the coast rejected Montero’s Movement and went to Quito to support the President. Montero and Flavio Alfaro joined forces. General Plaza in Quito commanded the army with General Julio Andrade as chief of staff.
      On 11 January 1912 Andrade’s force captured the rebel Col. Belisario Torres in a battle at Huigra, and sent him to Quito where he was shot dead while entering a prison. On January 14 General Leonidas Plaza defeated rebels at Naranjito. In a large battle on January 18 at Yaguachi government forces led by Andrade and Plaza were victorious over the rebels led by Flavio Alfaro who was wounded. Montero then replaced Flavio with his uncle Eloy Alfaro. Three men in Montero’s cabinet resigned, and the Alfaros were divided. Montero and Eloy Alfaro sent five peace commissioners to meet with General Plaza. The British and United States consuls negotiated the capitulation of Guayaquil with the central government, and many rebels gave up their weapons. Plaza released all political prisoners, and he gave fallen leaders guarantees and let them leave Ecuador.
      General Plaza’s troops entered the city of Guayaquil on January 22 as rebels surrendered their arms. General Juan F. Navarro, the Minister of War, replaced Plaza whom he sent to court martial Montero. He was convicted of treason and sentenced to 16 years in prison; but Montero was shot in the courtroom, and his body was thrown out the window to the mob. Eight men killed Eloy Alfaro in his cell on January 28, and then Flavio Alfaro, Medardo Alfaro, and others were killed and had their bodies mutilated and burned.
      Acting President Zaldumbide was involved in a Conservative plot and was forced to resign. Power went to Francisco Andrade Marin, President of the Chamber of Deputies. He supervised the presidential election. Leonidas Plaza was elected President again, was inaugurated on September 1, and governed Ecuador 1912-16.
      The Liberal Party was still dominating politics while wealthy merchants and bankers in Guayaquil held economic power. During the Great War (World War I) they extended their influence and diversified their capital by owning the agriculture on the coastal plain. Cacao for making chocolate was still Ecuador’s major export, and sugar and rice were increasing. The Liberal Party borrowed from banks and increased the money supply that caused inflation and unemployment. Strikes were suppressed with violence, and conservatives in the mountains blamed the corruption of the coastal oligarchs for the nation’s problems. In 1918 Ecuador abolished imprisonment for debt. The Liberal Party elected President Alfredo Baquerizo Moreno (1916-20), José Luis Tamayo (1920-24), and Gonzalo S. Córdova (1924-25). During the 1920s the real rulers were the plutocratic bankers and agricultural interests who were called “the ring” (la argolla). Their leader was Francisco Urvina Jado and his Commercial and Agricultural Bank of Guayaquil. He influenced the choice of presidents, ministers, senators, and deputies.
      Ecuador experienced an economic depression in the early 1920s. The sucre was the national unit of currency, and it was rapidly losing value. Cacao plants were infected with the blight of the “witchbroom” disease. These crises caused urban discontent. Trade unions were organized in Guayaquil, and the suppression of strikes turned into massacres by the army. Hundreds of people died during a general strike of Guayaquil factories in November 1922.
      In the July Revolution of 1925 Ecuador’s army took more action in the tumultuous situation. The League of Young Officers managed a nonviolent coup that removed President Córdova on July 9, and Luis Telmo Paz y Miño became the President of the Supreme Military Junta of Ecuador. They claimed they were trying to restore national unity, and they blamed Ecuador’s problems on the merchant bankers in Guayaquil. This turmoil damaged social and economic order as one governing junta began to replace another. The period 1925 to 1948 has been described as “greater turbulence than Ecuador had ever known.”
      The Provisional Governments following the Revolution of 1925 were replaced by Isidro Ayora as the Interim President from 6 April 1926 to 17 April 1929. Then he held the military dictatorship as President Ayora until 24 August 1931. He appealed for help to the Princeton University economist Edwin Walter Kemmerer. He advised devaluing the currency in order to support highland exporters, and this raised consumer prices that affected the poor. They founded the Central Bank of Ecuador and implemented some banking reforms. Some labor reforms were legislated to regulate hours and improve working conditions, and they helped organized workers in urban textile plants and public service jobs. Yet rural workers and the marginally employed and unemployed in the urban areas continued to suffer. The July Revolution helped coastal commerce, elite bankers, highland landowners, and bureaucrats who moved into the middle class with the military. These power relations would last for several decades.
      The stock market crash in late October 1929 in the United States and the economic downturn affected Latin Americans. The price of Ecuador’s cocoa exports fell by 59% from 1928 to 1931; its coffee exports dropped 66%, and palm nut exports decreased by 48%. Ecuador’s total exports were $15 million in 1928 and fell to under $7 million in 1931. Ecuador had become involved in the world market and international politics, and the people were entangled in ideological conflicts between fascism, socialism, and Communism. Social modernization was increasing the rate of change while Ecuador’s disunity slowed down improvements in governing, land tenure, education, and communication. In August 1932 the somewhat fascist Consolidation of National Workers helped elect Neptali Bonifaz Ascazubi, but Liberals and other leftists prevented him from taking the office. Demonstrations and protests erupted in a four-day civil war in the last days of August, and the military made Luis Larrea Alba the Acting President until 15 October 1931. On that day the former President Alfredo Baquerizo became the Acting President until 28 August 1932.
      Ecuador had 21 governments between 1931 and 1948, and not one of them completed its term. Alberto Guerrero Martínez was President of the Senate, and he served as Acting President of Ecuador for three months and was followed by Juan de Dios Martínez. He was President of the Chamber of Deputies and became President of Ecuador from 5 December 1932 to 19 October 1933. He could get nothing through the Congress, and Abelardo Montalvo was made Acting President and served until 31 August 1934.
      Ecuador also suffered from the economic effects of the Great Depression in the 1930s, and after 1935 Ecuador’s economy and exports began to recover. The sucre against the dollar fell 65% from 1930 to 1943 while the cost of living was rising 298%.
      The populist José María Velasco Ibarra caused many conflicts. In 1934 he argued for a patriotic war with Colombia against their historic enemy Peru. They had forced the Acting President Martínez to resign, and Velasco Ibarra was elected with 80% of the votes. He was President from 1 September 1934 to 21 August 1935. His populism was called “Velasquismo,” and its street politics used marches and demonstrations to intimidate political rivals. He criticized political parties for being divisive and unrepresentative. He believed in strong leadership and using dictatorship to solve problems during a crisis.


1. Nineteenth Century Ecuador: A Historical Introduction by Frank MacDonald Spindler, p. 60.
2. Ibid., p. 94.
3. Ibid., p. 100.
4. Ibid., p. 104.
5. Ibid., p. 103.
6. Ibid., p. 123.
7. Ecuador Reader, The: History, Culture, Politics ed. Carlos de la Torre and Steve Struffler, p. 108.
8. Nineteenth Century Ecuador, p. 131-132.
9. Ibid., p. 150-151.
10. Ibid., p. 152.
11. Ibid., p. 240-241.

Copyright © 2023 by Sanderson Beck

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Latin America & Canada to 1850

Brazil 1850-1935
Uruguay 1850-1935
Argentina 1850-1935
Paraguay 1850-1935 
Bolivia 1850-1935
Chile 1850-1935
Peru 1850-1935
Ecuador 1850-1935
Colombia 1850-1935
Venezuela & Guianas 1850-1935
Haiti & Dominican Republic 1850-1935
Cuba 1850-1935
Puerto Rico 1850-1935
Panama 1850-1935
Costa Rica 1850-1935
Nicaragua 1850-1935
El Salvador 1850-1935
Honduras 1850-1935
Guatemala 1850-1935
Mexico 1850-1935
Canada 1850-1935

Chronology of Latin America to 1935
Chronology of Canada to 1935
Chronology of North & South America to 1786
Chronology of North & South America 1787-1844
Chronology of North & South America 1845-1896
Chronology of United States to 1896
World Chronology to 1830


BECK index