Untitled Essay, Research Paper
Briefly, democracy is a matter of degree and quality. Confusion often arises
in discussion about democracy. This stems from the different premises people
have in mind when they use the term. In my opinion, most people fail to specify
their underlying premises, and we often incorporate into our sense of democracy
disparate factors that may or may not relate to it. To avoid such confusion,
we must identify the key ideas central to democracy and clarify precisely
how the term will be used. The best way to study democracy is to learn the
other countries, so in this time I choose one of Latin American countries,
Ecuador for well-understanding of the process of democracy.
Ecuador is graphically one of the world’s most varied countries despite its
small size, which at 283520 sq. km is about the size of either New Zealand
or Nevada State. Ecuador staddles the equator on the Pacific coast of South
America and is bordered by only two countries, Colombia to the north and
Peru to the south and east.
The estimated population of Ecuador in 1991 was 10,800,00. This is approximately
10 times the number of Indian estimated to have been living in the area at
the time of the Spanish conquest. The population density of about 38 people
per sq. km is the highest of any South American nation.
Like other Latin American countries, the major religion is Roman Catholicism.
Some of the older cities have splendid 16th and 17th-century Catholic churches.
Although churches of other faiths can found, they form only a very small
minority. The Indians, while outwardly Roman Catholic, tend to blend Catholicism
with their traditional beliefs. In Ecuador, Spanish is the main language.
Most Indians are bilingual, with Quechua being their preferred language and
Spanish their second tongue.
Ecuador, that is the smallest of the Andean countries, is a republic with
a democratic government headed by a president. The first constitution was
written in 1830, but has had several changes since then, the most recent
in 1978. Democratically elected governments have regularly been toppled by
coups, often led by the military. Since 1979, however, all governments have
been freely elected. All literate citizens over 18 have the vote and the
president must receive over 50% of the vote to be elected. With at least
13 different political parties, 50% of the vote is rarely achieved, in which
case there is a second round between the top two contenders. A president
governs for a maximum of five years and cannot be reelected.
The recent elections were in 1988, with 10 candidates running for president.
In the first round, held in January, Rodrigo Borja and Abdala Bucaram achieved
24.1% and 17.6% of the votes. In the August runoff, Borja of the Izquierda
Democratica (Democratic Left) received a 52% majority and was elected.
The president is also the head of the armed forces and appoints his own cabinet
ministers. There are 12 ministries forming the executive branch of the
government. The legislative branch of government consists of a single Chamber
of Representatives (congress) which has 69 members. The congress appoints
the justices of the Supreme Court. There are 21 provinces, each with a governor
appointed by the president and democratically elected prefects. The provinces
are sub-divided into smaller political units called cantones; each canton
has a democratically elected alcalde (mayor).
Most histories of Ecuador begin with the expansion of the Incas from Peru
in the 1400s, although archaeological evidence indicates the presence of
people in Ecuador for many thousands of years before then. The history of
pre-Inca Ecuador is lost in a tangle of time and legend. Generally speaking,
the main populations lived either on the coast or in the highland.
At the time of the Inca expansion the Duchicela descendants still dominated
the north, and the south was in the hands of the Canari people. The Canari
defended themselves against the Inca invaders, and it was some years before
the Inca, TupacYupanqui, was able to subdue them and turn his attention to
the north. During he fathered a son, Huayana Capac, by a Canari princess.
The subjugation of the north took many years and Huayana Capac grew up in
Ecuador. He succeeded his father to the Inca throne and spent years traveling
all over his empire, from Bolivia to Ecuador, constantly putting down uprisings
from all sides.
The year 1526 is a major one in Ecuadorian history. The Inca Huayna Capac
died and left his empire, not to one son as was traditional, but to two,
thus dividing the Inca Empire for the first time. In the same year, on 21
September, the first Spaniards landed near Esmeraldas in northern Ecuador.
They were led south by the pilot, Bartolome Ruiz de Andrade, on an exploratory
mission for Francisco Pizarro, who himself remained further north. Pizarro
was not to arrive as conqueror for several years.
Meanwhile, the rivalry of Huayna Capac’s two sons grew. The Inca of Cuzco,
Huascar, went to war against the Ecuadorian Inca, Atahualpa. After several
years of fighting, Atahualpa defeated Huascar near Ambato in central Ecuador
and was thus the ruler of the weakened and still divided Inca Empire when
Pizarro arrived in 1532 with plans to conquer the Incas.
Pizarro’s advance was rapid and dramatic. His horse-riding, amour-wearing
and cannon firing conquistadors were believed to be godlike and, although
few in number, spread terror among the Indians. In late 1532, a summit meeting
was arranged between Pizarro and Atahualpa. Although Atahuaipa was prepared
to negotiate with the Spaniards, Pizarro had other ideas. When the Inca arrived
at the pre-arranged meeting place on 16 November, he was ambushed by the
conquistadors who massacred most of his armed guards and captured Atahualpa.
Atahualpa was hold for ransom, and incalculable quantities of gold, silver
and other valuables poured in to Cajamarca. When the ransom was paid the
Inca, instead of being sentenced to death. His crimes were incest, polygamy,
worship of false gods, and crimes against the king. He was executed on 29
August 1533, and the Inca Empire was at an end.
From 1535 onwards, the colonial era proceeded with the usual intrigues amongest
the Spanish but with no major uprisings by the Ecuadorian Indians. Lima,
Peru was the seat of the political administration of Ecuador during the first
centuries of colonial rule. Ecuador was the first known as a “gobernacion”
(province) but in 1563 became the “Audiencia de Quito,” amore important political
division. In 1739, the “audiencia” was transferred from the viceroyalty of
Peru, of which it was a part, to the viceroyalty of Colombia (then known
as Nueva Grenada).
Ecuador remained a peaceful colony during these centuries, and agriculture
and the art flourished. Various new agriculture products, such as cattle
and bananas, which still remain important in Ecuador today, were introduced
from Europe. There was prolific construction of churches and monasteries
which were decorated with unique carvings and paintings resulting from the
blend of Spanish and Indian art influences.
Life was comfortable for the ruling colonialists, but the Indians and later
“mestizo”, were treated under their rule. A system of forced labour was not
only tolerated but encouraged, and it is no surprise that by the 18th century
there were several uprisings of the Indians against the Spanish ruling classes.
The first serious attempt to liberate Ecuador from Spanish rule was by a
partisan group led by Juan Pio Montufar on 10 August 1809. The group managed
to take Quito and install a government, but this lasted just 24 days before
troops of the King of Spain were able to regain control.
Independence was finally achieved by Simon Bolivar, the Venezuelan liberator
who marched southward from Caracas, feed Colombia in 1819, and supported
the people of Guayaquil when they claimed independence on 9 October 1820.
It took almost two years before Ecuador was entirely liberated from Spanish
rule. The decisive battle was fought on 24 May 1882 when Field Marshal Sucre,
one of Bolivar’s best generals, defeated the royalists at the Battle of Pichincha
and took Quito.
Bolivar’s idealistic dream was to form a united South America, so he began
by amalgamating Venezuela, Colombia and Ecuador into the independent nation
of Gran Colombia. This lasted only eight years and Ecuador became fully
independent in 1830. In the same year a treaty was signed with Peru, drawing
up a boundary between the two nations. This is the boundary that is marked
on all Ecuadorian maps. In 1942, after a war between the two countries, the
border was redrawn in Rio de Janeiro and it is this border that is found
on non-Ecuadorian maps. However, it is not officially acknowledged by Ecuadorian
Independent Ecuador’s internal history has been a typically Latin America
turmoil of political and open warfare between liberals and conservatives.
Quito emerged as the main centre for the church-backed conservatives and
Guayaquil has traditionally been considered liberal and socialist. This rivalry
continues on a social level today. Qiitenos have nicknamed Guayaquilenos
as “monos” (monkeys) and the lively coastal people think of the highland
inhabitants as very staid and dull.
The rivalry between the groups frequently escalated to extreme violence:
conservative President Gracie Moron was shot and killed in 1875 and liberal
President Eloy Alfaro was killed and burned by a mob in Quito in 1912. The
military began to take control and the 20th century has seen more periods
of military rule than of civilian.
Ecuador’s most recent period of democracy began in 1979 when President Jaime
Roldos Aguilera was elected. He was killed in an aeroplane crash in 1981
and his term of office was completed by his vice president, Osvaldo Hurtado
In 1984, the conservative, Leon Febres Cordero, was reelected to the presidency.
Following the democrat, Rodrigo Borja, became president and the government
leant to the left. The next elections are due in 1992. These are not easy
to follow, because there are at least 13 political parties in Ecuador. There
are also a number of communist, socialist, and revolutionary political movements
which are not officially recognized. These do have a certain amount of political
power which they exercise by forming alliances with one of the official parties.
In conclusion, despite intense and bloody rivalry between liberals, conservatives
and the military during the earlier part of this century, Ecuador has remained
peaceful in recent years and is one of the safest countries in South America
at present. Everybody thinks that democracy is the most advanced government
form all over the world. However, we all should remember that it is from
numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that our world is shaped.
BIBLIOGRAPHY FOR ECUADOR
Hurtado, O. Political Power in Ecuador (Westview, 1985).
Linke, L. Ecuador: Country of Contrasts (Oxford, 1964).
Luzuriaga, C. Income Distribution and Poverty in Rural Ecuador (Arizona State
Univ. Press, 1983).
Redclift, M.R. Agrarian Reform and Peasant Organization in Coastal Ecuador
(London Univ. Press, 1978).
Schodt, D.W. Ecuador (Westview, 1986).
Whitten, N.E., ed. Cultural Transformations and Ethnicity in Modern Ecuador
(Univ. of Ill. Press, 1981).