It gives me great satisfaction that LWE decided to give our readers a Chronicle on Garcia Moreno…the late 19th Century President of Ecuador who as brutally assassinated 135 years ago to this very day - August 6, 1875. I have included some Garcia Moreno quotations along with the Photos.
Gabriel Garcia Moreno
"Liberty must be consolidated above morality, seeking religion as a guarantee for this, and an enlightened and virtuous clergy for teaching by word and deed"
Why in my opinion is Garcia Moreno significant?
From a “secular” perspective first and foremost…he is brought and end to chaos in a country that was in chaos since Ecuador won its independence from Spain. Then…he brought much needed “civilization” and “culture” to a country that was bordering on barbarism. And….he did so much to bring modern cohesive infrastructure into the country. Lastly…he brought education to the Indians and women. This was his “progressive” side.
"In no form of Government is public education so important as in democracy; because if the people are corrupt, their sovereignty is the omnipotence of evil; and if they are ignorant, their liberty is a dangerous fantasy, it is the liberty of a blind man who walks to the fortune on the edge of an abyss"
From a Values perspective…he unified the country with its diverse ethnic, racial, social and financial divisions by making it law to be Catholic in order to be an Ecuadorian citizen. He consecrated the Country to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Finally, he made a Concordant with the Vatican to base the Constitution under Christian principals.
"More horrible than crime is impunity for the criminal"
From a modern western perspective….the idea of a Catholic State might sound rather archaic. But the idea was that it would be normal and rational for people to live, raise their children and co-exist with like minded people. Non Catholics were certainly allowed to live in Ecuador and, while they did not have the same rights as a Catholic, they were no persecutced. One could compare this to my residency status in Ecuador now. I am not a citizen, but I live and enjoy a good life with my family even though I do not have all of the same rights as an Ecuadorian. Don Gabriel believed that the only way to unite the people was to establish a common bond that 99% of all Ecuadorians believed. In today’s modern world one can look at a country such as Israel to see that the idea of a state not separated by religion still exists.
Location at the Presidential Palace where Garcia Moreno was Assasinated -
"The Enemies of God and the Church can kill me; But GOD DOES NOT DIE"
We can only touch on the life and history of this extraordinary man in this brief space.
His life would make a great Hollywood movie… the life of an extraordinary over achiever willing to defend militarily the Vatican States against Victor Emmanuel, to defeating single handedly a revolution off the coast of Guayaquil as he personally “appropriated” a British vessel to help sink the rebel navy, to his body being hidden for 100 years after his assassination. But we can recommend many books about that have been written about the man in recent years for anyone who may be interested. At the end of the Chronicle there is a timeline of major events of his life.
Matt - what a fascinating Chronicle. Your admiration for Garcia Moreno certainly comes through. He was an extraordinary and, I might add, controversial figure - larger than life.
Matt and I have become very good friends over the past several years, but no doubt regular readers of the Chronicles will realize that we have an interesting relationship - we do not agree on everything; but this is what makes life interesting. I have no problem with political leaders being people of faith, I don't worry about Manger Scenes on the Courthouse Square, or a prayer in school - but I do support the basic separation of church and state. But I come from a tradition of people of many different religious beliefs seeking religious freedom - and individual freedom. This is very different from a country in chaos where faith could provide a common bond to pull people together. The lines of history that lead to Ecuador (and Latin America) as we know it today are very different than those that lead to today's North America - but that discussion could lead to a rather long Chronicle.
Also, I will mention here that if you are interested in learning more about Garcia Moreno LWE can arrange a special tour of the actual sites associated with his life and death - perhaps with Mathieu Charles Guillory as your guide.
Would you like to visit Ecuador for a History Lesson -
Here is a short history of the life of Gabriel Garcia Moreno
1821 - Born in Guayaquil
1844 - Received Law degree from central University in Quito
1847 - Named Governor of Guayas Providence
1850 - Made first trip to Europe
1853 - Elected Senator while on his second visit to Europe where he studied Science and geology in Paris
1856 - Named First Mayor of Quito
1859 - Elected supreme head of the provisional government of Ecuador during the revolutionary uprising.
1861 - Elected Constitutional President of the Republic
1862 - Signed the Concordant with Pope Pius the IX
1863 - Ratified the Concordant. Brought the Sacred Heart Sisters into Ecuador to establish education for girls.
1865 - Completed his first term as President
1866 - Named Diplomat to Chile
1869 - Was asked to head a coup d'etat against the Government of Espinosa and proclaimed supreme head and elected as President of Ecuador
1870 - Founded the Conservatory of Music and the Polytechnical School
1871 - Began construction of the Railroad to connect the coast to the highlands.
1872 - Inauguration of the School of Arts and Crafts and Fine Arts School.
1873 - Inauguration of the highway, uniting the Ecuadorian coast with the mountains. Consecration of Ecuador to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Founded the Astronomical Observatory of Quito and Indigenous Standardized School
1874 - Printed the first bills of the Bank of Quito
1875 - Elected to third term. Installation of the Ecuadorian Academy corresponding to the Royal Spanish Language Academy
1875 - Assasinated on August 6th