The Histories of Enrique Ayala Mora

Enrique Ayala Mora is Ecuador’s preeminent historian. Translations of excerpts from two of his histories relevant to the period under consideration are presented on this site.

Historian Enrique Ayala Mora


The “Manual de Historia del Ecuador (Vol II) (“Manual of the History of Ecuador”) presents a very condensed version of Ecuadorian History suitable for a brief overview course. The specific passages excerpted here start at the revolution of 1895, including both of Alfaro’s terms, Presidents Plaza and Garcia, the Murder of Alfaro and then an overview of the movement including “Church and State”, The Liberal Program, and Structure of the state.

Manual of the History of Ecuador by Enrique Ayala Mora (p. 44-50 & 62-68)

  • The Church and Liberalism
  • This is a very condensed overview of the clashing idologies and factions that rent the body-politic of Ecuador in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
  • Political Forces
  • The birth and early evolution of political parties in Ecuador.
  • The Sale of the Flag
  • The story of the “Esmerelda Affair” – the covert sale of a Chilean ship to Japan. The uproar over this scandal precipitated the fall of the “Progressive” party and the advent of the “Liberal Revolution”.
  • The Civil War and Alfaro’s First Term (p. 62-63)
  • Eloy Alfaro and June 5th
    Alfaro’s assumption of the presidency was preceeded by a power struggle that assumed the proportions of a civil war.
    Dictatorship and First Term of Alfaro
    Brief survey of some of the highlights of the opening years of Alfaro’s first term.
  • The Liberal Split (p. 63-64)
  • Administration of Plaza
    By the time Alfaro’s first term drew to a close, a split had developed in the Liberal Party. Leonidas Plaza was the focal point of the new faction and he succeeded Alfaro in the presidency in 1901.
    Government of Garcia and the Revolt
    At the end of Plaza’s first term in 1905, he promoted Lizardo Garcia to succeed him as president. Garcia adhered to Plaza’s strain of Liberalism. Within several weeks of his assumption of the office he was overthrown in a coup by Alfaro.
  • Through the End of the Revolution (64-65)
  • Second term of Alfaro:
    Accomplishments and Stumbling blocks of Alfaro’s second term.
    Fall and Assassination of Alfaro:
    Chronicle of the events at the close of Alfaro’s second term, and the Assassination of Alfaro; including an analysis of the ramifications of these events for Ecuador.
  • The Character of the Revolution (p. 66-68)
  • Church and State
    Discussion of the character, motivation, and methods of the secular reforms pursued by “Liberal” presidents Alfaro and Plaza.
    The Liberal Program
    Social and Economic reforms of the “Liberal” presidents and their administrations.
    The structure of the State
    Impact of the “Liberal Revolution” on the administrative structures of the state.

History of the Liberal Revolution in Ecuador is Enrique Ayala Mora’s comprehensive overview of the Revolution based on his Oxford PhD dissertation.

  • The Succession after Plaza (“The Fronde”) (p. 140-150)
  • After Alfaro’s first term, Leonidas Plaza became president; his term lasted from 1901 to 1905. In this chapter, Dr. Ayala discusses the dramatic power struggle at the end of Plaza’s presidency in 1905 including an interesting discussion of the differences between the Alfaro strain of Liberalism and the Plaza one.
  • The “Twenty-day Campaign”(p. 151-155)
  • In 1905, Eloy Alfaro overthrew Lizardo Garcia, Plaza’s elected successor, just a few weeks into Garcia’s term. This section explains how it happened including an analysis of the political and social forces in play at the time.
  • The Fall of Alfaro(p. 175-180)
  • As the close of Alfaro’s second term approached, the question of a candidate to succeed him dominated events. This section discusses those events …which led ultimately to Alfaro’s ouster and premature departure from power on August 11, 1911.
  • The “Barbaric Bonfire”(p. 183-194)
  • After assuming the presidency at the end of Alfaro’s second term, Emilio Estrada survived a mere three months: he died from a heart condition. A power vacuum resulted and Alfaro who had left the country expecting to spend the rest of his days in his wife’s native Panama was drawn back into its vortex and ultimately assassinated in that tragic event known to all Ecuadorians as the “Arrastre” or dragging of Eloy Alfaro. This section is one of the most authoritative accounts of those tragic events.
  • Assessment(p. 194-199)
  • This section opens with a discussion of the question of which authorities might have been immediately complicit in the murder of Eloy Alfaro. Then it broadens into a survey of the various Ecuadorian forces in play throughout Alfaro’s life; the environment that brought him to the presidency and the forces that would later sweep him from power.
  • Church and State(p. 208-223)
  • This section is a general overview of the whole church-state issue in Ecuador with special focus on the approach of Alfaro and some of his key supporters to the issue. The role played by the Concordat is also discussed as is the Patronage issue. The difficulties encountered in efforts to acheive a true “separation” of church and state leading up to the “controlled break” are detailed.
  • Civil Registry, Civil Marriage and Divorce(p. 303-307)
  • The struggles for the final establishment of a Civil Registry and a Law of Marriage and Divorce are chronicled. This section includes a discussion of church control in Ecuador as compared to the other Latin American countries colonized by Spain.
  • Who were the Goths (“godos”)?
  • This is a discussion of the type of people who made up the bulk of the ultra-right faction of the “conservatives”, known as the ‘goths’.
  • Failure of the “Ultramontane” Resistance
  • Discussion of the activities of the extremists among the conservatives who caused significant difficulty and disruption during Alfaro’s first term, including the clergy-incited military revolts in collaboration with Columbia from the north (the “Catholic Restoration”).
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