Eloy Alfaro visited Los Angeles in 1892. He had been exiled from the country at that time. An article about him appeared in the Los Angeles Herald on May 06, 1892 complete with the text of an interesting interview in which he is reported to have stated his objections to the government then in power. Just three years later, in 1895, he would return to Ecuador and assume the Presidency. The text of the article is below, followed by a scan of the original page from the Los Angeles Herald (from the Library of Congress):
Visit of General Alfaro to This City.
Banished From Home For His Liberal Principles. And a Wanderer For Ten Years-He Speaks About the Galapagos Island Cession Very Plainly.
A distinguished military man and a patriot, Gen. Eloy Alfaro of Ecuador, has arrived in this city and is the guest of his old-time friend, Thos. L. Duque, at 524 South Hill street. By reason of his unswerving devotion to liberal principles, as they are understood in South America, the general has been a wanderer from home since 1883, and the malignancy of his enemies in the Conservative party has pursued him even in the state of Colombia, from which he was expelled twice, the last time being during the month of January in the present year, when he was forced to leave Panama.
General Alfaro, who looks every inch a soldier and a determined foe, is a man of about 50, rather small of stature, well proportioned, and a fluent speaker, although he unfortunately is not acquainted with the English language.
President Antonio Flores fears him, and in 1888 offered to let him return to Ecuador, providing he would enter into a combination with him, and promised that he would so manipulate the elections that Alfaro should be his successor in the presidency. The general having positively refused to listen to any compromise, has been followed by Flores’ vengeance ever since, and thus he had to become a visitor to California.
In 1883, during a revolution against the leaders of the Conservative party, Alfaro, who was the commander-in-chief of the Liberal forces, obtained supreme control of the whole coast of Ecuador, but his party suffered reverses and he voluntarily left his native land, going to Colombia, where the Conservatives, then in power too, expelled him.
He returned to Panama later, and was permitted to remain there until the machinations of Flores once more caused him to be driven away. He then went to Costa Rica and Venezuela, whose presidents are his friends, and thence came to California to be with Mr. Duque for a few days. General Alfaro expressed himself delighted with the climate of this state, the more so that he had been under apprehensions that it would not suit him after a lifetime passed under equatorial latitudes.
In an interesting half hour’s chat granted a Herald reporter, General Alfaro reviewed the causes which have produced so many revolutions in the republics of South America. The primary reason of the troubles was the unfair way in which the government of Ecuador settled her share of the debts contracted in England by Venezuela, New Granada and Ecuador when they founded the great republic of Colombia.
“The scandalous and unfair conduct of President Caamano in the settlement of the foreign debt, in the year 1884, by which enormous quantities of public land were to be stolen from the people and concessions made to strangers, caused the most violent indignation. Resistance was stilled by Caamano, however, through means of persecution, robbery, arson, murder, imprisonment and confiscation of property. I was well justified when I accused Antonio Flores, the tool of the president, of seeking to enrich himself by ruining the state, under pretense of settling the British debt.
“We of the Liberal party do not oppose immigration; on the contrary, we should be willing to give land gratis to such new-comers as intended really to cultivate their sections, but in no wise are we willing to let the land be stolen in the scandalous manner which the Conservatives advocate for the sole purpose of their own aggrandizement.
“But there is a subject right here upon which I wish to make a few remarks. It is a subject of importance as much to the United States as it is to Ecuador, and it is the cession of the Galapagos islands, as contemplated by Señor Antonio Flores. The Daily Star and Herald of December 7th of last year stated that there was talk of granting the United States a coaling station at Galapagos, which islands had been virtually abandoned by Ecuador. It also believed that there was a disposition on the part of the Ecuadoran government to sell them, and one on the part of the government of Washington to buy them. I do not know who inspired the article, but I know that no Ecuadoran who is not affiliated with the band of thieves now in power would countenance such a sale. Such an event would for ever lose to this great nation the sympathy of Latin America, and would make us feel that we Ecuadorians had been treated shabbily and unjustly.
“I rejoice to know that the Liberal party is again becoming strong in the republics where I have lived so long, that it will soon be able to openly proclaim that it is tired of misrule, and will take up arms for its rights and principles. We do not seek personal revenge. We want principles to prevail, those of liberty and honesty above all. The moment the call to arms resounds you may rest assured that I shall at once depart for my home, to shed my blood for right and country.”