Liberal revolution (1895-1912)
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Ecuador civil war was in 1895: intellectuals, artisans and coastal peasants families were organized in "montoneras". These popular organizations were the basis to besiege the conservative army and the coup d'état was imminent.



PHOTO CREDIT: Vincente Muñoz

In this coup d ' état the Major General Eloy Alfaro, the "old fighter", was entitled the Supreme Authority of the Republic. The first Liberal Assembly was established in 1896 and the consequent Constitution (XI) issued in 1897 where fundamental civil liberties such as the revoke of the death penalty, freedom of worship and the possibility of citizenry for any inhabitant of Ecuador were established.


At this time Ecuador was structured as a nation-State (at least in Costa and Sierra). The “alfarista movement” was a promoter of national integration: ideologically it recognized a liberal national identity; and economically with the creation of the Guayaquil-Quito railway.


The liberal regime and the new Constitution (1916) took away from the hands of the Church education and civil registration. Civil marriage and divorce was introduced. Considerable numbers of Church estates were expropriated. The tithe was eliminated; debt taxes imposed on the indigenous were decriminalized. Furthermore, primary education was introduced as obligatory, free and secular.


The liberal oligarchy, in which converged landowners and the coastal banks, was favored by these economic reforms; however the oligarchy was not prepared to expose the mechanisms of production, because they did not want to abolish the system of estates or anything that could undermine their power.

It is then that they decided to be allied with General Leonidas Plaza, who had support of Alfaro to rise to the Presidency, but later he avoided the return to power of the old fighter.


Alfaro staged another coup and concluded his most important work: the construction of the railway. After leaving power in 1911, Alfaro was briefly absent abroad, however a democratic lawsuit began a he was forced to return. At his return Eloy Alfaro was victim of a conspiracy between conservatives and liberal oligarchy. He was arrested by order of the new President of the Republic (Carlos Freile Zaldumbide) and taken to Quito.


In 1912, on January, a furious multitude belonging to the more conservative areas of Quito (linked with the clergy) went to seek Alfaro and his collaborators to the prison. Under higher-order, the military guarded of Alfaro prison allowed them to go into with the single-mindedness to massacre the old fighter and his company.

The Noon of January 12, 1912 witnessed an act of inhumanity; one of numerous political murders carried out "for the good of the motherland", something that several historians have classified as a crime of State. Eloy Alfaro was beaten, stabbed, detached from their clothes and dragged through the streets of Quito, until the Park El Ejido where his body was publicly incinerated.


Thus, the nascent banking upper-class, producer and marketer of Ecuador were consolidated in power and the complete liberal revolution was avoided.


Since then the history of the Ecuador was characterized by the oscillation between representative democracy and coups d ' état, all handled or carried out by groups of economic power. Conservative or liberal party, these groups began to define themselves politically. Often they formed alliances, sometimes broke them and formed different fractions and trends that were shaping the future political parties.


You have to know this

In 1895 tool place the Liberal revolution in Ecuador, which was led by Eloy Alfaro, whose nickname was the old fighter. The revolution implemented the secularism, as well as granting fundamental civil liberties.

Due to the Liberal revolution, Ecuador began to consolidate a nation-State, especially by the most representative building of this time: the Quito-Guayaquil railway.

The oligarchic interests together with the conservative party conspired to kill Eloy Alfaro, ending with the Liberal revolution in 1912.

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