The Electoral Reforms of 1861 in Ecuador and the Rise of a New Political Order

  • Juan Maiguashca
Part of the Institute of Latin American Studies Series book series (LASS)

Abstract

Ecuador became an independent nation in 1830. Its first constitution declared that its government would be: ‘popular, representative, alternative and accountable’.1 It was only in 1978, however, that the seventeenth constitution of the country abolished the literacy requirement, thus permitting the bulk of the Ecuadorean population to elect governments which were, in principle at least, truly popular, representative, alternative and accountable. In the century and a half that elapsed between these two dates, there took place a struggle between those who wanted to restrict the system of representation in one way or another and those who worked to expand it. Of the many clashes perhaps the most interesting and decisive of all was that which took place in 1861. Very little however has been written on the subject and that which exists is in need of revision.2

Keywords

Europe Income Expense Straw Defend 

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Notes

  1. 1.
    F. Trabucco, Constituciones de la república del Ecuador (Guayaquil, 1975), p. 34.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    The literature on the Ecuadorean electoral process in the 19th century is extremely thin: J. Tobar Donoso, ‘El sufragio en el Ecuador’, Revista de la Asociación de Derecho (1949); R. Quintero, ‘El carácter de la estructura institucional de representatión política en el estado ecuatoriano del siglo XIX’, Revista Ciencias Sociales, vol. II, nos. 7–8 (1978); M. Medina Castro, ‘Proceso evolutivo del electorado national’, in E. Ayala (ed.), La historia del Ecuador, ensayos de interpretation (1985); and E. Albán Gómez, ‘Evolutión del sistema electoral ecuatoriano’, in Tribunal Supremo Electoral, Eleccionesy democracia en el Ecuador, vol I. El Proceso electoral ecuatoriano (Quito, 1989).Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    See respectively, Medina Castro, ‘Proceso evolutivo del electorado’, and Quintero, ‘El carácter de la estructura institucional’.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    See, in particular, M Kossok, ‘Revolutión, estado y natión en la Independencia’, in I. Buisson et al. (eds.), Problemas de la formatión del estado y la natión en Hispanoamérica (Bonn, 1984), p. 169, and S. Valenzuela, Democratizatión vía reforma: La expansión del sufragio en Chile (Buenos Aires, 1985).Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    J. Maiguashca (ed.), Historia y región en el Ecuador, 1830–1930 (Quito, 1994).Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Trabucco, Constituciones de la república, p. 35.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    The Department was abolished as a territorial unit in 1835 but it was kept in existence for the administration of some activities of the central state such as elections.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Medina Castro, ‘Proceso evolutivo del electorado’, p. 316.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Quintero, ‘El carácter de la estructura institucional’, pp. 85, 102–4.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Ibid., pp. 86–7.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    See Maiguashca, Historia y región, particularly Palomeque’s chapter, pp. 69–142.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    For a criticism of Quintero’s approach, see J. P. Deler and Y. Saint-Geours, Estados y naciones en los Andes (Quito, 1986), vol. 2, pp. 419–34.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Quintero, ‘El cáracter de la estructura institucional’, pp. 86–7.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    On electoral corruption, see comments by Tobar Donoso, ‘El sufragio en el Ecuador’, p. 14.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    From 1830 to 1884 there were economic prerequisites to holding office. As a result, the political and administrative elites of Ecuador throughout this period naturally belonged mostly to the propertied classes. From this fact current historians have inferred that these elites were governed by their class and/or territorial interests in the exercise of their public duties, thus rendering useless a distinction between ‘national’ versus ‘peripheral’ elites. This inference, however, has not been checked empirically. The evidence available suggests that the people who manned the state apparatus, irrespective of their territorial or social origins, tended to adopt what could be called an ‘institutional point of view’. It is perfectly in order, therefore, to speak about the ‘national elites’ as a distinct social actor in Ecuadorean public life.Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    These terms, ‘people’ and ‘aristocrats’, were used by contemporaries, including foreign diplomats in Ecuador.Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    G. Ramón, ‘Los indios y la constitución del estado nacional’, Ponencia al IX Simposio International de historia económica: las comunidades campesinas de los Andes en el siglo XIX (Quito, Mar. 1989), p. 31.Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Public Records Office (PRO), FO 25, vols. 9:53; 11:45; 16:63; 22:55, 83; 24:15.Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    PRO, FO 25, vol. 24:15; and American Diplomatic Correspondence, National Archives of the United States (henceforth ADC), Quito, 4 Dec. 1849.Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    The ‘liberal’ and ‘conservative’ label in Ecuador were used to distinguish the two main political factions of the upper classes.Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    PRO, FO 25, vols. 24:15 and 26:32.Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Maiguashca, Historia y región, pp. 377–83.Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    PRO, FO 25, vol. 26:48.Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    PRO, FO 25, vol. 24:15, and ADC, Guayaquil, 12 May 1851.Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    PRO, FO 25, vols. 24:49; 26:48; 30:84; and ADC, Quito, 1 June 1857.Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    Foreign representatives in Ecuador took sides during the 1850s. Walter Cope, the British Chargé d’Affaires, sympathised with the aristocrats in Quito and in the departmental capitals. Cope came to the conclusion that the Marcistas had established a system of ‘despotic militarism’ as early as 1851. See FO 25, vols. 22:69, 83; Cope to Foreign Office, Quito, 20 Jan. 1852, vol. 24, and Guayaquil, 1 Oct. 1852, vol. 26. Aware that the Marcistas regarded the United States as the ‘model republic’, North American representatives were less critical. They also acknowledged that the Marcistas were interested in advancing democracy in Ecuador. ADC, Cushing to Secretary of State, Guayaquil, 6 Apr. 1852; 30 July 1852; 2 Mar. 1853; and White to Secretary of State, Quito, 18 Jan. 1854.Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    With regard to Indian mobilisation in the southern highlands from the 1850s onwards, see M. A. Vintimilla, ‘Luchas campesinas en el siglo XIX y la Revolution Liberal de 1895’, Revista dell DIS, No. 8 (Cuenca, 1980), pp. 83–94. For a general account of the phenomenon of ‘urvinismo’, see E. Ayala, Lucha politica y origen de lospartidos en Ecuador (Quito, 1982), pp. 94–107.Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    See Malo, Escritosy discursos, p. 218; ADC, Quito, 10 Apr. and 1 June 1857, and 10 Jan. 1858.Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    ADC, Quito, 1 June 1857, 10 Jan. and 24 Aug. 1858.Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    PRO, FO 25, vol. 32:118.Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    See L. Robalino Dávila, García Moreno (Puebla, 1967), p. 211; R. Patee, ‘La época crítica de la historia ecuatoriana, 1857–1861’, Boletin del Centro de Investigaciones Históricas de Guayaquil (1941), pp. 17–18; and FO 25, vol. 34:41.,Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    Ayala, Lucha politica y origen de los partidos en el Ecuador, pp. 107–12.Google Scholar
  33. 33.
    Robalino Dávila, Garcia Moreno, p. 211.Google Scholar
  34. 34.
    PRO, FO 25, vol. 34:111.Google Scholar
  35. 35.
    Patee, ‘La época crítica’, pp. 23–4.Google Scholar
  36. 36.
    ADC, Quito, 22 Mar. 1860.Google Scholar
  37. 37.
    M. Van Aken, King of the Night: Juan José Flores and Ecuador, 1824–1864 (Berkeley, 1989), p. 255.Google Scholar
  38. 38.
    Tobar Donoso, El sufragio en el Ecuador, p. 12.Google Scholar
  39. 39.
    Quoted in Tobar Donoso, idem, pp. 12–13.Google Scholar
  40. 40.
    Robalino Dávila, Garcia Moreno, pp. 296 and 300; and Tobar Donoso, El sufragio en el Ecuador, p. 13.Google Scholar
  41. 41.
    Van Aken, King of the Night, pp. 256–9.Google Scholar
  42. 42.
    Diario de los trabajos de la Convención Nacional reunida en la capital de la repblica en elano de 1861 (Quito, 1861), p. 111 (hereafter quoted 2&Diario). This source, a daily record of all the debates that took place in the convention, has hitherto been largely neglected by historians. This document is not easily available as there are very few copies left. I had access to the Diario thanks to the generosity of Enrique Ayala and Malcolm Deas.Google Scholar
  43. 43.
    Diario, pp. 53–5.Google Scholar
  44. 44.
    In 19th century Ecuador, the right to vote without economic prerequisites was called ‘universal suffrage’. In this chapter I have kept the contemporary meaning of the term.Google Scholar
  45. 45.
    Diario, pp. 100–101.Google Scholar
  46. 46.
    Diario, pp. 168,192, 205 and 300; Robalino Dávila, García Moreno, p. 211.Google Scholar
  47. 47.
    Diario, p. 102. See also ibid., pp. 102, 165, 168.Google Scholar
  48. 48.
    Mera, one of the youngest members of the Convention, made a move to do away with the literacy qualification as well; Diario, pp. 107, 171. But few rallied to his cause. Thus the only two qualifications that remained in place for citizenship in the Constitution of 1861 were gender and the proof of literacy.Google Scholar
  49. 49.
    All the evidence suggests that the only doctrinaire liberals in the Convention were the two young representatives from Loja: Toribio Mora and Francisco Arias. Mora published his views in an influential paper in that province, which he himself established, La Federación. See A. Mora Reyes, Don Manuel Carrión Pinzano y el gobierno federal de Loja y trs maestros lojanos (Loja, 1959).Google Scholar
  50. 50.
    Diario, pp. 193, 300; Robalino Dávila, Garcia Moreno, p. 211; and G. García Ceballos, Por un García Moreno de cuerpo entero (Cuenca, 1978), pp. 41–5.Google Scholar
  51. 51.
    For the use of the concept of ‘generation’ in Ecuadorian cultural history, see J. Valdano, Ecuador: cultura y generaciones (Quito, 1985), p. 87. Political historians could emulate cultural historians and use this concept to their great advantage. It acknowledges a phenomenon of social life. It allows the historian an opportunity to avoid falling victim either to the notion of ‘the great man’ or to class determinism.Google Scholar
  52. 52.
    Diario, p. 111.Google Scholar
  53. 53.
    Diario, p. 251.Google Scholar
  54. 54.
    See Mora’s comments after the reform was passed, m Diario, p. 192.Google Scholar
  55. 55.
    B. Malo, Escritos y discursos (Quito, 1940), pp. 214, 216–7.Google Scholar
  56. 56.
    Diario, pp. Ill, 180–1.Google Scholar
  57. 57.
    Diario, pp. 181 and 55.Google Scholar
  58. 58.
    Diario, p. 379. See also R. Borja y Borja, Derecho constitucional ecuatoriano (Madrid, 1950), vol. I, pp. 602–4.Google Scholar
  59. 59.
    Diario, pp. 359 and 408.Google Scholar
  60. 60.
    Diario, p. 480.Google Scholar
  61. 61.
    Trabucco, Constituciones de la repblica, p. 201.Google Scholar
  62. 62.
    Diario, p. 497.Google Scholar
  63. 63.
    Robalino Dávila, Garda Moreno, p. 213.Google Scholar

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© Institute of Latin American Studies 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Juan Maiguashca

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