Biography of Gabriel García Moreno (1821-1875)

Politician and Ecuadorian writer, several times President of the Republic, born in Guayaquil on December 24, 1821 and died murdered in Quito on August 6, 1875. It is one of the strongest personalities of the Latin America of the 19th century and, for some, the most notable judge of Ecuador, whose performance, however, raises until today the most opposite reactions: while some consider it a great civilizer of militant Catholic sign, for others it is the personification of authoritarian dictatorial and intransigent.


Son of Gabriel García Gómez, Spanish Soria, and Mercedes Moreno, Aristocrat guayaquilena, made his career of jurisprudence at the University of Quito, alternating his studies with politics, mathematics, mountaineering and journalism. In 1849, he/she traveled to Europe, where he/she returned to leading his homeland to the Jesuits, who had been expelled at the time of Carlos III.

Staunch opponent of general Urvina, was banished to the Peru in 1853, where again traveled to France to study science. Back to the Ecuador, was rector of the Central University, Senator and Mayor of Quito. It is distinguished by its frontal opposition to Freemasonry. From 1858 to 1861 it was part of the triumvirate that ran the nation, together with Jerónimo Carrión and Pacific Chiriboga. During this time was distinguished by the hardness in the crackdown against the military Urvina, Oaks and - mainly - against Franco, who has had proclaimed Supreme Chief of Guayas. Also around this time, he/she headed the national fight against the Peruvian invader Ramón Castilla, and the Treaty of Mapasingue, signed by Franco with the mentioned Chairman of the Peru, treated that cercenaba the territory of the Ecuador in humiliating way. Later this Treaty would be rejected also by the Congress of Peru.

In 1860 the country was divided in irreconcilable between three rulers, for which García Moreno proposed at some point turn Ecuador into a protectorate of France, idea that, although it was not carried, it would continuously reprochada by its adversaries. With the help of Juan José FloresGarcía Moreno was able to unify the country and convened a National Assembly that would dictate the seventh Constitution of Ecuador and would choose to García Moreno as constitutional President for the period 1861-1865. With the support of landowners and clergy, carried out a clericalista, and dictatorial government conceded to the Church great privileges.

Finished his term, placed President JerónimoCarrión, and two years later this fall, he/she was elected to finish the period Javier Espinosa, which would be overthrown by García Moreno on January 16, 1869. After this coup, García Moreno was proclaimed Supreme Chief and convened a National Convention which issued a new Constitution, which would be called by opponents of García Moreno as the black letter, because it gave excessive powers to the head of State and determined that they could only enjoy the Ecuadorian citizenship Catholics. Approved the Constitution, García Moreno ruled during the period 1869-1875. The capital points of his Government were: stop the demagoguery, consolidate public morals founded in the Catholic religion, promotion of education, the means of communication and the reorganization of public finances. Convinced that needed to be heavy-handed, he/she argued the death penalty and applied it without hesitation, especially against the leaders of the opposition, which, fuelled mainly by Urvina from his exile in the Peru, caused several times internal riots and attacks from outside. This attitude earned a great reputation for cruel. In international relations it held good relations with other countries, although he/she knew how to keep hard against the Peruvian ambitions with regard to the territories of the Amazon, and broke relations with Mexico during the Empire of Maximiliano. It also enzarzó in futile military action with Colombia during his first Government. It disciplined and reinforced the army; He/She founded the Court of Auditors and issued the first Finance Act, managing to improve tax collection; It favoured the emergence of savings banks and agricultural mortgage lending. In the field of public works highlighted by the construction of administrative and health care buildings, port facilities, penitentiaries, and initiation (44 km) of railroad Guayaquil and Avenue - Sibambe (300 km) Highway. In education, it enacted the first law in instruction, introduced compulsory school, founded the first Indian Normal School, and introduced several religious congregations, such as the of the brothers of the Christian schools, the Sisters of the sacred hearts, Providence, the Hermanas de la Caridad for hospitals, the good Shepherd, the Jesuits and the Lazarists. He/She created many schools and colleges and modernized university education of medicine. He/She also founded the Conservatory of music, the school of fine arts and the University. He/She established the first botanical garden and the Astronomical Observatory, the first museums. He/She sent many artists to prepare in Europe and United States and Ecuador led to numerous experts and foreign scholars. The fact of greater relevance in the political action of García Moreno was the signing of the Concordat with the Holy See, which normalized relations with the Vatican and was given strong support to the Catholic Church: began the reform of the clergy, were erected new dioceses, and openly supported the Catholic religion as the official religion. García Moreno protested the seizure of the Papal States, which, in gratitude, he/she received the Vatican the decoration of the Piana order and the relics of the martyr San Ursicino, who are venerated in the Cathedral of Quito. In 1875, García Moreno presided over the official consecration of Ecuador to the heart of Jesus, initiative which would be then followed by other countries in the Catholic world. The hatred of certain political sectors, was attracting its iron discipline, as well as its firm support to the religion and its persecution of the masonic lodges, you while it was highlighted the advancement of the country in general.

Following the new election of García Moreno in May 1875, Juan Montalvo, great liberal pamphleteer, published in Panama its brochure the perpetual dictatorship, which inflamed groups of the opposition urging them to break with the President. The 6th of August of the same year, when the President was heading to the Palace of Government, a group of Liberals assassinated him with blows of bullets and machete. Upon hearing the news, Juan Montalvo said boastful: "my pen killed him". The death of García Moreno shocked the Catholic World, since it was a ruler who organized the country, culturizó it, began to integrate their regions and said its reality in the international field. It received high praise from the Popes Pius IX, León XIII and Pius XII, who described as it "great ruler, faithful son of the Church and martyr for his faith".


Gomez JURADO, S., life of García Moreno (eight volumes). Quito, 1954-66.

LOOR, w., García Moreno, and his murderers. Quito, 1966.

Gonzalez, C., García Moreno, Saint or devil?. Quito, 1970.

ORDONEZ CAMORA, a., Gabriel García Moreno, executioner to serve Providence, basin, 1969.

PONCE LEIVA, p., Gabriel García Moreno. Quito, 1990.

CARRION, B., García Moreno, the Holy of the scaffold. Mexico, 1991.