Ecuador History Summary (2010)

By | December 14, 2021

Ecuador is a state of South America. In pre-Inca times three different cultures flourished in the high Andean valleys, on the Pacific coast and in the forests E of the Andes. Between the middle of the 15th century. and the early 16th century the Andean area and the Pacific coast were conquered by the Incas and during the reign of Huayna Cápac the ancient indigenous city of Quito became the capital of the northern province of the empire (Chinchasuyu). After Huayna’s death (1525) the division of the empire between her two sons and the civil war that followed favored the Spanish conquest. Occupied since 1534 by Sebastián de Belalcázar, the Ecuadorian region became part of the viceroyalty of Peru, established in 1542: in 1563 the creation of the Audiencia of Quito sanctioned the autonomy of the Ecuadorian administration within the viceroyalty. The Spanish settlement occurred mainly in the Andean area, where the abundant Indian population was used mainly as agricultural labor, while the development of cocoa plantations in the coastal region was long limited by the sparse population and endemic diseases. Almost immune from the Spanish colonization, however, the Amazonian East remained. In the first half of the eighteenth century, the Audiencia of Quito was separated from the viceroyalty of Peru and became part of the viceroyalty of Nueva Granada. In 1822, Ecuador joined the República de la Gran Colombia, proclaimed (1819) on the territories of the former viceroyalty of Nueva Granada. In 1830 it proclaimed itself an independent republic. For Ecuador history, please check

From independence to today. The life of the new state was characterized for a long time by the bitter conflict between the two sectors of the dominant oligarchy headed respectively by the Sierra (conservatives, clericals) and Costa (liberals, secular). The most stable period during the nineteenth century occurred during the dominance of the conservative G. García Moreno (1860-75), who established a dictatorial and clerical regime, promoted the construction of infrastructures and developed the school system entrusting it to the clergy. Towards the end of the century, the increase in the economic weight of the Costa, linked to the growth of foreign trade, favored a progressive strengthening of the liberals who, between 1895 and 1925, became the hegemonic party, reduced the privileges of the Church Catholic and initiated a modernization of the country, while the economy was growing. Despite these developments, the political system maintained a strongly oligarchic character and the great majority of the population remained outside of political life. The economic and political instability lasted from the 1920s to the 1940s, and worsened following the conflict with Peru (1941) which led to a notable territorial reduction of Ecuador (the tensions between the two countries lasted until the 1980s and only in 1995 agreements were initiated). The decline of the two traditional parties was accompanied by the birth of new political forces. Beginning in the 1930s, the rise of caudillos and leader charismatics who found in the urban masses, mainly mestizos, the greatest basis of consensus (eg, JM Velasco Ibarra). During the sixties and seventies, economic difficulties opened a phase of unrest and military coups d’état (1963-66; 1972-79); the governments that were born, however, did not solve the serious problems linked to the exploitation of agricultural resources. Relevant social effects had instead the discovery, at the end of the Sixties, of the oil fields, which allowed Ecuador to become an oil exporter since 1972, joining OPEC in 1973. The resulting socio-economic development corresponded, on the political level, to a tendency towards an increase in popular participation, confirmed by the Constitution (1979), which abolished bicameralism and granted the right to vote to the illiterate; these innovations were matched by a strengthening of the executive, with the further extension of the already vast presidential powers. In the following years there was the rise of new Catholic, Social Democratic (Izquierda democrática, ID, which became the major parliamentary force) and Marxist parties, while populist formations suffered a certain decline; the Christian Social Party (PSC) established itself as the leading conservative organization. The explosion of a new economic and financial crisis in the early 1980s led to the tightening of austerity measures, already launched by President O. Hurtado Larrea, by the conservative L. Febres Cordero. The serious incidents that ensued resulted in the proclamation of a state of emergency and severely repressive actions by the government. The situation continued to remain so with President B. Cevallos (of ID, 1988) and with his conservative successor S. Durán Ballén (1992), who implemented a privatization reform. During the nineties, the Indians formed their own party which advocated collective land ownership and which garnered a fair consensus. In the 1996 elections, the candidate of the Ecuadorian Partido roldosista (PRE), A. Bucaram Ortiz, who was dismissed two years later by Congress for mental incapacity, won. J. Mahuad Witt was elected president and a new Constitution was enacted. Despite the president’s efforts, the economic situation worsened, resulting in a bloodless coup in 2000, which brought G. Noboa to power, who launched a recovery plan. Subsequent presidents (L. Gutiérrez, A. Palacio) continued a liberal policy that exacerbated the economic difficulties of the weaker classes, until in 2006 R. Correa became president with a program of radical political reform and renegotiation of foreign debt and oil contracts with foreign multinationals. In 2008 it was launched and subjected to referendum a new Constitution, which placed precise limitations on the market economy and underlined the rights of indigenous communities.

Ecuador History Summary