From the Independence to Mid XX century
2011-01-20 11:04:11

On August 10, 1809, Quito established the first self-governing Junta in the Spanish colonies in America. Guayaquil declared its independence on October 9, 1820. One of Bolivar’s generals and statesmen Antonio José de Sucre led the independence troops into battles against the Spanish Royalist Army and at the foothills of Pichincha; the volcano overlooking the capital city, victory was finally secured on May 24, 1822. Ecuador achieved independence and joined the Gran Colombia, established by Simón Bolívar who relinquishes his power on April 27, 1830. Ecuador as well as the other countries that conformed the Gran Colombia separated and became independent Republics.

The first years of the Republic were marked by instability and power struggles, caused mainly by the division between conservatives and liberals. The conservative landowners in the Sierra, most of them Catholics, supported church sponsored religious education for all, were dedicated to agriculture with not much communications with the outside world. In contrast, the people in the Coast where mostly liberal oriented who favored free enterprise, development of agricultural exports and trade and where less influenced by the Church.

Three outstanding Presidents shaped politics in the 19th Century: General Juan José Flores, first President of Ecuador, Venezuelan born, hero of the independence wars and connected to the aristocratic class of Quito, Gabriel García Moreno who consolidated the country, carried out many useful public works and lead an era of conservatism with support of the Catholic Church until 1895 when General Eloy Alfaro Delgado led a liberal revolution that reduced the power of the clergy and sparked an era of capitalist development.

During the end of the 19th Century and the first quarter of the 20th Century, the country flourished economically associated with the cocoa exports boom that helped to improve and stabilize the country´s administration. Political instability predominated during the 1930s and 1940s. In 1941, Ecuador was invaded by Peru and lost control over much of its Amazon Territory. After World War II, Ecuador´s economy received a boost due to banana exports. A period of peace and prosperity from 1948 to 1960 followed with three freely elected Presidents completing their terms in Office. One key figure during these years was the five-time President, Jose María Velasco Ibarra.