El Perico: Historical References

“El Perico” in the accounts of three Ecuadorian Historians

This page includes translations of passages from the works of leading Ecuadorian Historians on Dr. Martinez’ publication “El Perico”.  Note that each issue of  the “El Perico” weekly was called a “flight”.  So the second issue of “The Parakeet” was “flight 2”, and the following week’s issue would be “flight 3” …etc.


Ecuadorian Historian Jose Antonio Gomez Iturralde is the author of a comprehensive two-volume work on the newspapers of Guayaquil. His section on “El Perico” appears below:

“Dr. Francisco Martinez Aguirre launched on an enterprise to found a satirical newspaper that came to enjoy as no other until many years later, great popularity…

Impeccable style, articulate, no vulgar jokes, but sharp as a dagger were its characteristics…

Dr. Martinez masterfully complemented Joseph Lapierre, who as a brilliant poet improvised jokes, the effects of which were felt by the government and which caused public officials to fume, but they nevertheless dared not act against the authors of the most popular newspaper in Guayaquil…

With the passage of time, the government of Caamano came to be harassed on all sides, and on February 6, he was assaulted by a group of brave men with the aim of kidnapping him and taking him to the mountains as a hostage so as to gain some advantage for the revolution. Also one night on arrival in Guayaquil he escaped from falling into the hands of robbers and after a disturbance Colonel Guedes, the police commissioner of Guayas,was killed. These developments aggravated the situation each day and provoked violent reactions from the government….

The last issue of El Perico circlulated on February 13, 1886, in the midst of revolutionary activity; El Perico was forced to suspend its publication and its editors fled to avoid being captured…

Dr. Martinez and Joseph Lapierre were persecuted, until the former was taken prisoner and sent into exile, which continued until the end of the term of Caamano, at which time Dr. Antonio Flores Jijon came to power, who as we know, opened the country’s borders to all the exiles and victims of persecution…

Indeed, as we read regarding the government of President Antonio Flores, freedom of the press was widely respected, and in return, the press did not abuse her, and insult, rant and violence disappeared from publications replaced by measured language regarding worship for the good of society… ”
–from Jose Antonio Gomez Iturralde “Los Periodicos Guayaquilenos en la Historia 1821-1997” (Collection Guayaquil, 1998)
translated by Patrick Connolly
Spanish Original document is available on the Library page


An earlier source, Camilo Destruge’s work “Historia de la Prensa de Guayaquil” contained an extensive commentary on “El Perico”:

“The country was convulsed; the revolution that had exploded in [the town of] Palanque in November 1884, although it appeared in [the town of] Piscano was back on its feet, by way of the consignment of guerillas which increased considerably from day to day. The shooting of Coronel Nicolas Infante had only served to inflame minds and encourage them all the more to revolution. The government, naturally enough, was defended with weapons where needed, and with measures of extreme rigor as were the citizens and the press.
That was an epoch that resulted in the publication of an opposition newspaper; and yet there was no shortage of enlightened men of sufficient valor to brave the dangers that came with it.

Dr. Francisco X. Martinez Aguirre, distinguished professor and surgeon of well-earned reputation, as well as an excellent artist and versed in the art of engraving, and a good writer; we say that Dr. Martinez Aguirre was resolved to undertake the enterprise and on the 7th of November of 1885 the first issue of El Perico appeared -a satirical weekly that came to enjoy as none other up till that time, great popularity.

On top beneath the name of the newspaper, the following slogan appeared: “Each bird cuts his own quill and proceeds”.

Correct style, light rhetoric, the jokes always in season and sharp, without descending to insults, without vulgarities frequently encountered from many who engage in that difficult genre, not knowing how to handle it.

In each issue of El Perico there appeared the sparkling verses of Joseph Lapierre in a separate section with full grace, complete with the unique jokes of a brilliant poet.

Dr Martinez Aguirre drew up the articles in prose, articles in which a light mischievous style prevailed -containing appropriate critiques and very serious censures.

And it was the same Dr. Martinez who made the drawings and created magnificent engravings which together charmed the public and revealed a true artist and witty cartoonist.

Martinez Aguirre and Lapierre complemented each other in this work, the effects of which were undoubtedly felt by the government and incited the fury of certain functionaries who nevertheless dared not take action against this pair of audacious and patriotic opponents who maintained the most popular newspaper in Guayaquil.

We have previously made reference to “Fray Gerundio”, a satirical newspaper that circulated before “El Perico”, and that had a violent death following its fourth issue. Recalling this, a mourning reference appeared in the columns of the fourth “flight” of “El Perico”:
Dedication: We recall that Fray Gerundio, on undertaking his fourth flight, died violently and unexpectedly after embarking on his fourth outing. Brave infant, succumbed at his post fulfilling the noble task he had imposed on himself.

And it [El Perico] evinced the fear of the same premature death. But no, “The Parakeet” was to reach to a longer life than Fray Gerundio so much so that it reached its 15th flight …which was considerable flight for those times.

The last issue of the first epoch of “El Perico” appeared on February 13, 1886; that is to say when the revolution was already on fire, when the columns of liberal guerrilas had whipped into action on every side, to the government troops, in the town of Duale, and in the provinces of Manabi and Los Rios; when scarcely seven days before, on the 6th of February, Dr, Jose Maria Placido Caamano, the president of the Republic by a group of determined men who had planned to kidnap him, take him to the mountains and hold him hostage in an attempt to gain some advantages for the revolution. And in Guayaquil, when Caamano arrived, he escaped from falling into the hands of assailants, in the midst of a great uproar at night which had resulted in the death of the superintendent of police, Colonel Guedes, in this way aggravating the situation more and more.

Dr. Martinez Aguirre and Don Joseph Lapierre were actively persecuted. The former came to be taken by law enforcement officers and sent into exile, which continued for a long time until the end of the term of Mr. Caamano and the assumption of the presidency by his successor Dr. Antonio Flores Jijon, who opened the doors of the country for all the emigrants and political exiles who were in great numbers.

On his return to Guayaquil, Dr. Martinez Aguirre resumed the publication of “El Perico” the first issue of which in this second epoch appeared on January 5, 1889.

In this issue, the first article opened like this:
Hallucination of the brain weakened by hunger and ostracism! When used to secure the inseperable apparition of Liberty in the firmamemt of the Homeland… This beautiful and brilliant star so yearned for by the victims of the recent tyranny who suffered the bitterness of exile.

And he added that he felt convinced that it was this beautiful reality that moved him to embark once again on his “flights”.

And indeed, President Flores respected greatly the liberty of the press and he put it into practice. We should say, in to the credit of the press, that the opposition did not abuse that liberty – as it had been abused on so many occasions – for in that age the language was cultured, restrained but not lacking energy. Insults did not appear in its columns, nor diatribes nor violence that on other occasions have given an unpleasant resonance to various organs of publicity.

In this second Era, El Perico was published in the Liberal Press Owned by Dr. Martinez Aguirre, who founded, also a daily which will be discussed later.

It reached this time to flight 11 of August 9th, 1890.

In a third epoch, it appeared in December 1903 and circulated until issue number 27 dated August 20, 1904. ”

–From Destruge, Camilo, “Historia de la Prensa de Guayaquil” (History of the Press of Guayaquil) 1924, pages 64, 65, 67
(translated by Patrick Connolly)
Spanish original is available on the Library Page

A third historical reference to “El Perico” appears in the work “La Hoguera Barbara” (The Barbaric Bonfire) – biography of Eloy Alfaro by Alfredo Pareja Diezcanseco (1908-1993).

…Of course the real operative force was the bourgeoisie. Many men, wealthy from business, with or without noble lineage, or family trees were ready to promote the transformation, wherein they might be the rectors of public affairs. The young, for sure, fought. If they were not mounted men (“montoneras”), instead they were writers like those who wrote “El Perico” a satirical newspaper which had opened fire against “The Ring” [ A powerful clique of Guayaquil agricultural and banking interests ]. It was directed by a well-known surgeon, Francisco Martinez Aguirre. It was in the time in which to amputate a leg, a saw and a glass of brandy for the patient were sufficient. Otherwise it was a matter of several people holding him while the surgeon did his thing with muscles and bones. It was recounted of Doctor Manuel Aguirre that if he if he found a friend suffering from some small growth (“tumorcillo”) he would lead him to the nearest hallway, take out his knife and in a twinkling, with a couple of good cuts he would leave him healthy and grateful. But Martinez was an artist of flight. Cartoonist and engraver of extraordinary value, and similarly gifted agile writer with fine irony, his newspaper would be snatched from the hands of newsboys. The political poems were done by another man of talent, Joseph Lapierre, brother-in-law of Marietta Veintemilla. And abetting a group of liberal idealists, ready to make use of the pen as if it were a gun.

“Each bird cuts his own quill and proceeds”, said the motto of the newspaper. And the words of LaPierre were often repeated: “If some cartoons resemble anyone, instead of requiring us to correct the portrait, we recommend that the original be corrected by its own hand so that the resemblance will cease to exist.” Then came the magnificent engraving in wood, firm, strong, with great psychological depth and perfection of technique. If it was election time, “El Perico” published with a restrained game of shadows, the figures of a soldier, an indian and a mestizo wearing the same face and with this legend: “Three different consituencies and one single little soldier” …they were not going to concede extrordinary powers to the Executive, nothing more than the announcement of a new industry. “P. P. Patrick and Company, manufacturers of mounted men, puppets, marionettes and more. Good, cute and cheap”. And below, the verses of Lapierre, signed by “The Nightengale”.

The government didn’t dare do anything because the opinion that the editors defended was very strong. Sometimes, however, they were persecuted and had to change publisher or find another name like “The Caliphate” which appeared in 1890. Once when it was ascertained that Martinez Aguirre would go to jail, he wittily wrote ‘They’re finally going to jail me? Lo and behold! This question has come to my beak for many days and I have it stuck there as a patch of Venice Turpentine without being able to remove it. Wait then, resigned to the answer of this sad bird, sad and flatulent.’
Some friars started a campaign against “El Perico”. The restless mood of those people did not give them peace. A special section was kept open for the clergy: ‘Sermons of the Preaching Parrot’. And there would be an old parrot with a cassock with his right leg raised and the left on the support of the pulpit. And what sermons!

And so the revolution took flight. The humor and controversy of these young men did as much as the theorists or military uprisings or guerrilla bands (montoneras). At the end of 1891, “El Perico” ceased publication… “.

— Hoguera Barbara Vol. 1 p.193-4
(translated by Patrick Connolly)

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