Ecuador I. Introduction Ecuador, republic in northwestern South America, bounded by Colombia on the north, by Peru on the east and south, and by the Pacific Ocean on the west. The country also includes the Galápagos Islands (Colón Archipelago) in the Pacific, about 965 km (about 600 mi) west of the mainland. Ecuador straddles the equator (Ecuador is the Spanish word for “equator”) and has an area of 272,045 sq km (105,037 sq mi). Quito is the country’s capital. Ecuador has a diverse population composed of people of European, Native American, and African descent. The majority are mestizos, individuals of mixed European and Native American ancestry. Most of the Native Americans live in poverty in the highlands region, where a small elite of European descent controls most of the land and wealth. Ecuador was a Spanish colony until 1822, when independence forces won a decisive victory over Spain. Ecuador has had a democratically elected government since 1979, but historically the government has alternated between civilian rule and military dictatorship. Most political conflicts involved squabbles among groups within the upper classes who controlled the nation’s wealth. Agriculture dominated the economy of Ecuador until the 1970s, when the discovery of petroleum deposits brought added income to the nation. Although the money generated by the oil industry produced a decade of prosperity, it eventually caused a chaotic dislocation of the economy. The influx of cash resulted in price increases for many goods. In addition, because Ecuador had a limited manufacturing base, people spent the new oil money on consumer products imported from abroad, thus increasing Ecuador’s foreign debt. II. Land and Resources Ecuador is divided into four geographic regions: The Costa, or coastal plain, covers a little more than one-quarter of the area of the country; the Sierra, or central highlands, extends as a double row of high and massive mountains enclosing a narrow, inhabited central plateau; the Oriente, or eastern jungle, covering about one-half the country, consists of gentle slopes east of the Andes; and the Galápagos Islands include six larger and nine smaller islands containing many volcanic peaks, mostly extinct. The Sierra region lies between two chains of the Andes, the Cordillera Occidental and the Cordillera Oriental, which have more than a dozen peaks higher than 4,877 m (16,000 ft). Cotopaxi (5,897 m/19,347 ft), one of the highest active volcanoes in the world, is located between the two mountain chains. A. Climate Although Ecuador lies on the equator, the country has a wide range of climates because of the varying elevations. The Costa is generally hot and humid, with a mean annual temperature of about 26°C (about 78°F). On the Sierra the temperatures range between about 7° and 21°C (about 45° and 70° F), depending on the elevation. Quito, which is some 2,850 m (9,350 ft) above sea level, has an average annual temperature of 13°C (55°F). The Oriente is warmer and more humid than the Costa; temperatures approach the upper 30°s C (lower 100°s F), and annual precipitation is about 2,030 mm (about 80 in). B. Natural Resources Forests, an important resource of Ecuador, cover 38.1 percent of the country. The mineral resources of the country include petroleum, gold, silver, lead, zinc, salt, copper, iron, coal, and sulfur. C. Plants and Animals Along the northern part of the Ecuador coast, and within the inner portion of the southern coast, tropical jungles abound. In some places the jungles extend up the slopes of the Andes as wet, mossy forests. Both flanks of the Cordilleras, as well as the Oriente, are densely forested up to about 3,050 m (about 10,000 ft). At higher elevations, paramo grass predominates. The animal life of Ecuador is varied. Large mammals include the bear, jaguar, and wildcat, and among the smaller mammals are the weasel, otter, and skunk. Reptiles, including the lizard, snake, and crocodile, thrive on the slopes of the Andes and along the coastal lowlands. Birds are the most varied group, and many North American birds migrate to Ecuador during the northern winter. The Galápagos Islands, with many unusual native animals, serve as a wildlife sanctuary. III. Population Approximately 80 percent of the population of Ecuador is composed of Native Americans and mestizos (persons of mixed Native American and European ancestry); the remainder is equally divided between Europeans (chiefly of Spanish descent) and blacks. The population is 64 percent urban. A. Population Characteristics At the 1990 census, Ecuador had a population of 9,648,189; the 2004 estimate is 13,971,798. The average population density is 51 persons per sq km (131 per sq mi). Some 47 percent of the people live on the Sierra, where the population is predominantly Native American. About 49 percent, mostly mestizos and blacks, live on the Costa. The remainder of the population is scattered within the Oriente and Galápagos Islands. The only significant groups of people of predominantly Spanish descent are in the cities of Quito, Cuenca, and Guayaquil. B. Political Divisions and Principal Cities Ecuador is divided into 21 provinces, which are subdivided into cantons and urban and rural parishes. Quito, the capital, is situated in the northern Andes and in 2001 had a population of 1,399,814. Guayaquil, in the southwest, with a population of 1,952,029, was the principal port and commercial center. Other cities include Cuenca (276,964), an industrial and commercial center; Machala (198,123), a commercial and farming center; and Ambato (154,369), a resort area and a commercial and transportation center. C. Language and Religion The official and most widely used language in Ecuador is Spanish. Many rural Native Americans speak Quechua, the original language of the Inca people. Most Native Americans in Ecuador became converts to the Roman Catholic faith during the years following the conquest of Peru and Ecuador by the Spanish. Roman Catholicism became the state religion in 1863, but by 1889 a liberal movement resulted in a partial severance of church from state. A decree of 1904 placed the church under state control; properties of religious orders were confiscated, and absolute freedom of religion was introduced. Today Roman Catholicism is the faith of about 96 percent of the population. The Native Americans of the Oriente maintain ancient religions; members of various Protestant denominations make up about 2 percent of the population. D. Education A campaign to reduce the high illiteracy rate in Ecuador was started in 1944; in 2004 some 92.8 percent of the people aged 15 or older were literate. Education in principle is free and compulsory for all children between the ages of 5 and 14. Many rural areas, however, do not have schools. D.1. Elementary and Secondary Schools In the 2000 school year 2 million pupils were enrolled in 18,014 primary schools. While nearly all children attended primary school, only 57 percent of secondary-school-aged children were enrolled in school. D.2. Universities and Colleges The main institutions of higher education in Ecuador include the Central University of Ecuador (1826) and the Pontifical Catholic University of Ecuador (1946), in Quito; the University of Cuenca (1868); and the University of Guayaquil (1867). E. Culture Because the inhabited regions vary greatly in their ethnic makeup, Ecuador is a country of contrasting cultural patterns. The Native Americans of the highlands, the descendants of tribes conquered by the Inca, still play traditional Native American songs on ancient-style flutes and panpipes. The Oriente is populated almost entirely by Native Americans whose ancestors escaped both Inca and Spanish rule and whose customs resemble those of Native Americans of the Amazon Basin. Along the coast, descendants of Spanish settlers and black African slaves have intermingled to produce a culture that is a combination of Spanish and African characteristics. E.1. Painting and Sculpture Ecuador was a famous art center during the colonial period. The first of a long line of colonial painters was Adrián Sánchez Galque. He taught Miguel de Santiago, the most famous of all the Ecuadorian colonial artists. Santiago, in turn, taught Nicolás Javier de Goríbar. These three artists formed the "glorious trinity" of colonial Ecuadorian painting. In 18th-century Quito, sculpture flourished through the works of Manuel Chil Caspicara and Bernardo de Legarda. In the 20th century, a generation of talented artists inspired by contemporary Mexican painters arose in Ecuador, including Camilo Egas and Eduardo Kingman, both of whom are muralists, engravers, and oil painters, and Oswaldo Guayasamín, a painter, sculptor, and graphic artist. E.2. Literature Colonial literature in Ecuador, like painting of the colonial period, was baroque in style. Baroque literature is characterized by exuberant and often somber emotion presented in an elaborate style rich in imagination and metaphorical imagery. By 1800 Ecuadorian literature came under the influence of neoclassicism and later romanticism. The neoclassical style emphasized common sense, moderation, reason over emotion, and elegance over brevity. Romanticism stressed reliance on the imagination and subjectivity of approach, freedom of thought and expression, and an idealization of nature. José Joaquín de Olmedo, one of the first neoclassic poets of Latin America, was also active in Ecuador's struggle for independence. Juan Montalvo, perhaps the most respected of all Ecuadorian authors, is known for his political essays. The best-known Ecuadorian writers of the 20th century include Jorge Icaza Coronel, a scathing novelist with a leftist political slant, whose most famous novel is Huasipungo (1934; translated 1962); José de la Cuadra, a short-story writer; and Alfredo Pareja Díez-Canseco, Demetrio Aguilera Malta, Enrique Gilbert, and Humberto Salvador, all of whom were writers preoccupied with the struggle for social justice. Quito, the least changed of any of the old colonial capitals of South America, is a fine example of early Spanish architecture. All the arts in colonial days were inspired by the church and reflected the baroque style prevalent in Europe. Many of the churches of Quito are now art galleries as well as places of worship; they contain priceless paintings, altarpieces, woodcarvings, statues, and adornments. E.3. Libraries The National Library, founded in Quito in 1792, is one of the oldest in the country and contains about 70,000 volumes. The university libraries in Quito and Cuenca have less extensive collections. Other libraries are maintained in the larger cities. E.4. Museums Many museums in Ecuador preserve artifacts and records of historic interest. Several historical and archaeological museums are in Quito, including the School of Fine Arts; the National Museum of Fine Arts in the Sucre Theater building; the Museum of Colonial Art; and the Franciscan and Santo Domingo museums. Near Cuenca, a private museum has on display an excellent collection of Inca and pre-Inca objects. IV. Economy Agriculture has traditionally been the basis of the Ecuadorian economy. For most of the century and a half after 1822, when Ecuador won its independence from Spain, the Ecuadorian economy underwent only sluggish development and remained predominantly agrarian. The highlands, where most of the people lived, displayed a sharp social division between the masses of Native American peasants and a small class of rich creole (individuals of Spanish descent) landlords. The Indians generally farmed small plots, using traditional methods, on latifundia (big estates) owned by the creole elite. Ecuador's main exports were cacao, coffee, and, later, bananas. Limited commercial and industrial development occurred along the coastal area centering on the country's commercial capital, Guayaquil. In 1965, however, an industrial development law was passed that brought about the establishment of factories manufacturing textiles, electric appliances, pharmaceuticals, and other products. In the 1970s substantial amounts of petroleum began to be produced and exported, with the completion of the trans-Andean pipeline providing a line between oil fields and the port of Esmeraldas. The profitable exploitation of petroleum produced rapid economic growth. Substantial progress was made in education, public health, irrigation, hydroelectric power generation, transportation, urban construction, and industrialization. However, social inequalities increased, the highland Native Americans remained impoverished, and foreign debt grew to high levels. In 2002 industrial production accounted for 28 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) while agriculture, including fishing and forestry, accounted for only 9 percent. The GDP was estimated at $24 billion in 2002. A. Agriculture The cultivated area (just 6 percent of Ecuador) lies primarily on the Sierra and the Costa. Bananas are the chief crop; also important are coffee, cocoa, sugarcane, rice, plantains, maize, and potatoes. Some 9.3 million metric tons of fruits, primarily bananas, were produced in 2002. B. Forestry and Fishing Ecuador is one of the world’s chief sources of balsa wood. Other forest products include mangrove bark, tagua nuts (vegetable ivory), and rubber. The waters surrounding the Galápagos Islands constitute one of the richest tuna fisheries in the world. Shrimp are also found in abundance. The coastal waters off mainland Ecuador also are rich in fish. The fish catch totaled 654,539 metric tons in 2001. C. Mining Gold, silver, lead, zinc, and salt are mined in Ecuador, the last-named under government monopoly. Petroleum resources, which were first uncovered in the early 1920s and are still being discovered today, form the basis for a major industry. The deposits are the property of the country, but large, taxable concessions have been made to foreign concerns. Petroleum production in 2001 totaled 154 million barrels. D. Manufacturing Traditionally, Ecuadorian industry was confined to the manufacture of goods for local consumption. Under the industrial development law, production plants were established for the manufacture of food products, petroleum products, textiles, and chemicals. In 2002 manufacturing accounted for 11 percent of the GDP. E. Energy Ecuador has great potential for producing hydroelectricity, and 65 percent of its electricity is generated in hydroelectric facilities. Almost all the rest is produced in thermal plants burning coal or petroleum products. In 2001 the country produced 10.7 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity. F. Currency and Banking In March 2000 the government changed the basic unit of currency in Ecuador from the sucre to the United States dollar, with the exchange rate set at 25,000 sucres to the dollar. The Central Bank of Ecuador (1927) is the bank of issue, and the country is served by several domestic commercial banks as well as offices of foreign banks. G. Foreign Trade The value of Ecuador’s yearly exports is generally somewhat higher than the cost of its imports. In 2001 the country’s exports earned $4.6 billion and its imports cost $5.4 billion. Export earnings from food products such as shrimp, cacao, and coffee accounted for 42 percent of the total, with 41 percent coming from sales of fuels, principally petroleum. Major imports included transportation equipment, machinery, metal, chemicals, and foodstuffs. The United States is by far the leading trade partner of Ecuador; considerable commerce also is conducted with Japan, a number of countries in the Americas, and many European countries. Ecuador, along with Bolivia, Colombia, Peru, and Venezuela, is a founding member of the Acuerdo de Cartagena (Cartagena Agreement), also known as the Andean Group. The group works toward common policies on energy, tariff reduction, industrial and agricultural development, political cooperation, improved internal and international trade, and the creation of a common market. Ecuador is also a founding member of the Latin American Free Trade Association (LAFTA) which was replaced in 1980 by the Latin American Integration Association (LAIA). The LAIA aims to improve the economic and social conditions in member countries by improving trade within the group, which includes most of the countries in South America. Ecuador was a member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) from 1973 to 1992. H. Transportation The road system of Ecuador comprises 43,197 km (26,841 mi) of roads, of which only about one-sixth are paved. The Pan-American Highway runs through the country from north to south. The nationalized railroads transport freight and passengers over 960 km (600 mi) of track. Ecuador has several seaports. Guayaquil, which is connected by air and rail to the major cities, and La Libertad are the main ports. Other ports include Esmeraldas, Manta, and Puerto Bolívar. Many rivers, including the Guayas, Daule, and Vinces, have been dredged and are now navigable. International airports are located near Quito and Guayaquil. I. Communications The major cities and towns of Ecuador are connected by telephone; telegraph and cable services link the country with all parts of the world. There are about 320 commercial radio stations. There were 413 radio receivers and 216 television sets in use for every 1,000 inhabitants in 2000. Influential daily newspapers include El Comercio and Ultimas Noticias in Quito, and El Universo in Guayaquil. J. Labor The total labor force of Ecuador numbers 5.1 million people, of whom 8 percent are employed in agriculture, forestry, and fishing; 24 percent work in manufacturing, mining, and construction; and the remaining 68 percent engage in services. Skilled workers make up only a small percentage of the labor force. The country has several trade union associations; the largest is the Frente Unitario de Trabajadores, which comprises the Confederación Ecuatoriana de Organizaciones Clasistas, the Confederación Ecuatoriana de Organizaciones Sindicales Libres, and the Confederación de Trabajadores del Ecuador. There are also major unions representing manual laborers, intellectuals, maritime and port workers, and railway workers. V. Government Ecuador is governed under a constitution put into effect in 1979. Ecuador has had more than 15 constitutions since it achieved independence. Most have followed the classic republican form, providing for a directly elected president, an elected legislature, and a separate independent judiciary. In practice, however, Ecuador's presidents and military leaders have frequently annulled constitutions and canceled elections. A. Executive The constitution of Ecuador vests executive power in a president elected by direct popular vote for a four-year term. The president, who cannot serve two successive terms, is assisted by a cabinet and appoints the governors of the provinces. The chief executive is commander in chief of the armed forces and holds extraordinary powers in time of national emergency. B. Health and Welfare Effective programs designed to check communicable diseases have been instituted in Ecuador. The country has greatly reduced the incidence of yellow fever, malaria, and tuberculosis. Malnutrition and infant mortality, however, still pose serious problems. In 1991 an outbreak of cholera spread to Ecuador from Peru. More than 35,000 cases were diagnosed and 606 people died. A government-sponsored social security program, in existence since 1942, provides farmers, domestic workers, artisans, and professional people with such benefits as health, accident, maternity, and unemployment insurance, as well as old-age pensions. In 1999 the country had 1 physician for every 789 inhabitants. C. Legislature Legislative power in Ecuador is vested in the unicameral National Congress. It is made up of 121 members, 79 of whom are elected at-large nationally and 42 of whom are elected to represent the provinces. All members of Congress serve four-year terms. In addition to lawmaking, Congress ratifies treaties and chooses judges for the country’s supreme and divisional courts. D. Political Parties Traditionally, the important political groups were the Conservative Party and the Liberals (officially the Liberal Radical Party). The Conservatives spoke for the landed aristocracy and the Catholic Church. Their stronghold was the old administrative capital Quito. The Liberals represented the country's wealthy and anticlerical mercantile elite. Their base was Guayaquil, Ecuador's largest city and commercial center. Until the second half of the 20th century, the great majority of the population had no political voice. The real stakes of political conflicts, whether electoral or violent, were the division of spoils among groups within the upper classes. Since World War II (1939-1945), although the social structure has not basically changed, the vote has been vastly extended. Ecuadorian political life has become much more varied and open, and the two traditional parties have dwindled into relative insignificance. In the early 21st century Ecuador had more than ten political parties, and they often formed coalitions to support candidates for election. Some of the more important parties included the leftist People’s Democracy-Christian Democrat Union, the conservative Social Christian Party, the populist Ecuadorian Roldosist Party, the centrist Party of the Democratic Left, and the Plurinational Pachakutik Movement-New Country, a Native American party. In the 1990s Native Americans gained increased influence over Ecuador’s politics through both the Pachakutik party and the Ecuadorian Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities (Conaie), a group led by Native American farmers. E. Local Government Each province of Ecuador is administered by a governor, who is appointed by the country’s president, and a popularly elected provincial council. Urban cantons popularly elect a municipal council, which, in turn, elects the council officers. Each rural canton and each parish is administered by an official who is appointed by the president. F. Judiciary The court system of Ecuador includes a supreme court of 16 judges, 10 divisional courts, and numerous lower courts. Criminal cases are heard before a “special jury,” consisting of one judge and three members of the bar. Capital punishment is prohibited. G. Defense A 12-month term of conscription is compulsory for all male citizens of Ecuador. In 2002 the armed forces included an army of 50,000 members, a navy of 5,500, and an air force of 4,000. VI. History Architectural remains of ancient civilizations dating back thousands of years, and probably related to the Maya civilization of Central America, have been discovered in Ecuador. The present-day city of Quito served as the fortified capital of several Native American groups and is one of three cities in the Americas that antedate the coming of the Europeans. The other two are Mexico City, capital of the Aztec Empire, and Cuzco, Peru, capital of the Inca Empire. Quito was the center of the ancient Native American kingdom of Quito, which was conquered by the Inca Empire in the late 15th century. None of these pre-European civilizations left written records of their cultures. The Inca dominated the Native American tribes of Ecuador and provided the major military obstacles to the early Spanish invaders, who eventually conquered the region in the 16th century. A. Spanish Rule The Spanish first landed on the coast of what is now Ecuador in 1526, led by Bartolomé Ruiz. Spanish conquistadores under Francisco Pizarro invaded the country in 1532 and two years later were in control of the area. Pizarro, acting in the name of the Spanish crown, appointed his brother Gonzalo governor of Quito in 1540. A short time later Francisco Pizarro was assassinated, and Gonzalo Pizarro led a rebellion against Spain. His independent rule lasted until 1548, when forces of the Crown defeated his army at Jaquijaguana and he was executed. Colonial Ecuador was at first a territory directly under the rule of the Viceroyalty of Peru, one of the two major administrative divisions of 16th-century Spanish America. In 1563 Quito, as Ecuador was then called, became a presidency, or a judicial district of the viceroyalty. From 1717 to 1723 the Quito presidency was under the authority of the Viceroyalty of New Granada in Bogotá, but it was then returned to the authority of the viceroy of Peru until 1739, when it reverted to New Granada. B. Independence The first revolt of the colonists against Spain took place in 1809, but it did not last long. A second attempt in 1810 resulted in a revolutionary government that was suppressed by Spanish troops in 1812. Revolutionary forces, led by General Antonio José de Sucre, chief lieutenant of South American independence leader Simón Bolívar, did not win final victory until 1822. Ecuador became the Department of the South, part of the confederacy known as the Republic of Colombia, or Gran Colombia, which also included Venezuela, Panama, and Colombia. In 1830 Ecuador withdrew from Gran Colombia and gained independence under its present name. The first century of the republic is bound up with four remarkable men: General Juan José Flores, Vicente Rocafuerte, Gabriel García Moreno, and General Flavio Eloy Alfaro. C. Regimes of Flores and Rocafuerte Flores and Rocafuerte shared the government of the new republic from 1830 to 1845. They alternated between hostility and friendship, and likewise alternated in government. When Flores was president, Rocafuerte was governor of Guayaquil; when Rocafuerte was president, Flores was the commander of the army. Flores was born in Venezuela and was an officer in Bolívar’s army in the War of Independence. He was in command of troops in Quito in 1830 and after Bolívar left Ecuador, Flores took advantage of the division and anarchy in Gran Colombia to head the movement that withdrew Ecuador from the federation. Flores was barely 30 years old when he first took power. His repressive government angered the Liberals, led by Rocafuerte. Rocafuerte, a member of Quito’s upper class, was the first active opponent of the tyranny of Flores. Tolerant, progressive, a man of travel and culture, Rocafuerte was educated in Europe. Flores recognized his enemy as the kind of man he needed in the government, invited Rocafuerte to join him, and helped Rocafuerte to become president in 1835. Rocafuerte gave Ecuador a remarkable four years of administration, with government reform, new schools and hospitals, and friendly relations with neighboring countries. At the end of his term, he returned to his position as governor of the port city of Guayaquil and left Flores in the presidential mansion in Quito. In 1845 Flores was ousted and exiled by the Liberals. Flores fled to Spain, where he plotted with Queen Isabella II to bring the west coast of South America under Spanish rule. Ecuador's neighbors became so alarmed that they called a conference at Lima, Peru, in 1847 to plan a mutual defense. Flores's plans were foiled, but five years later he again menaced Guayaquil with ships obtained in Peru. No welcome awaited him there, and he departed. In 1860, with Ecuador in the throes of civil war, President García Moreno invited Flores back to command the army and help restore order. D. García Moreno and Eloy Alfaro García Moreno, a staunch Conservative, dominated Ecuador from 1860 to 1875. García Moreno favored road building, administrative reform, modernization of agriculture, and, above all, the development of a school system under the complete control of the Catholic clergy. In 1875 García Moreno was assassinated. His death was followed by two more decades of Conservative rule—at first under the dictatorship of General Ignacio de Vientimilla and then under a succession of civilian governments. During this period, world demand for Ecuadorian farm products, especially coffee, was high, and Ecuador was generally prosperous. Prosperity especially benefited the port of Guayaquil, stronghold of the Liberal opposition. In 1895 the Liberals seized power in a coup led by their strongman Eloy Alfaro. After two years of dictatorial rule, he was elected president in 1897. In 1901 he was succeeded by another Liberal general, Leónidas Plaza Gutiérrez, but retained great influence. After a break between the two Liberal generals, in 1906, Eloy Alfaro overthrew Plaza Gutiérrez's chosen successor and returned to power. In 1907 he was again elected president, and he held office until 1911, when he was overthrown. During his years of political dominance, Eloy Alfaro put into effect the essential points of the Liberal program—elimination of the privileged legal position of the Roman Catholic Church, establishment of a system of public education, and construction of a railroad between Guayaquil and Quito. E. Instability The next half century was marked by both economic and political instability. Starting in the 1920s, bananas were a major export crop, and Ecuador eventually became the world's leading banana exporter. Thus the collapse of world markets for farm products during the Great Depression of the 1930s dealt Ecuador a hard blow. The country also suffered a military disaster in 1941, when it was invaded and partly occupied by Peru. An inter-American arbitration commission later awarded Peru sovereignty over a vast stretch of land in the Amazon basin that had been in dispute between the two countries ever since the breakup of Gran Colombia in 1830. Ecuador later repudiated the arbitration award, and the border between the two countries remained a point of contention until the end of the 20th century. Ecuador followed the United States into World War II (1939-1945) against the Axis powers. At home, the end of the war coincided with a waning of Liberal influence. In 1944 the Liberal president Carlos Alberto Arroyo del Río, formerly president of the Chamber of Deputies, was forced from office and replaced by former President José María Velasco Ibarra, who had held office in 1934 and 1935 and who was supported by the Conservative faction. In 1945 Ecuador became a charter member of the United Nations. A new constitution, promulgated in December 1945, remained in force until 1967. In 1947 Velasco was deposed by a military group that was almost immediately ousted by counterrevolutionaries. After a brief rule by a provisional government, Galo Plaza Lasso, a former ambassador to the United States, was elected president in June 1948. In early 1948 Ecuador attended the ninth Inter-American Conference in Bogotá, Colombia, and became a signatory of the charter of the Organization of American States. The long-standing border dispute with Peru, which had been revived in 1941, cropped up again in 1950. Both times the issue was submitted to arbitration. Most of the disputed area had been awarded to Peru in 1942, and no boundaries were changed following the 1950 incident. (In 1960, reviving the dispute, Ecuador unilaterally nullified the 1942 settlement.) F. Series of Short-Lived Administrations In 1952 Velasco, this time the candidate of a coalition of left- and right-wing groups, was chosen president for the third time, holding office until 1956. In the presidential elections that year, the conservative candidate Camilo Ponce Enríquez won a close victory over a liberal candidate. Velasco ran as an independent candidate in the elections of 1960. Sharply critical of the conservative economic policies of the Ponce government, he promised widespread reforms and was elected by a wide margin. Lacking any well-defined program, however, he did not last long; he was forced to resign in 1961. Shortly before, he had signed the charter of the Alliance for Progress, a document providing for extensive aid from the United States to signatories over a ten-year period. Velasco’s successor, Vice President Carlos Arosemena Monroy, did not enjoy a long tenure either. He was overthrown in 1963 by a military junta, which implemented economic and social reforms in a series of decrees, including one for agrarian reform. In 1964 the junta submitted a ten-year national development plan to the Alliance for Progress commission, thus opening the way for negotiation of loans to finance development projects. It soon, however, faced mounting demands for a return to constitutional government, and after two weeks of rioting in July 1965 it installed a cabinet more acceptable to the opposition, but political unrest continued. In 1966 violent antigovernment demonstrations that provoked harsh retaliation triggered a countrywide upheaval. The junta was then forced out. An interim government held power until November of that year, when a newly elected constituent assembly chose Otto Arosemena Gómez to head the state. His government survived a difficult initial period of widespread opposition, and in May 1967 a new constitution was promulgated. In the first elections under the new charter, in 1968, Velasco was once more the winner. His fifth administration, however, was no more successful than the previous ones. He assumed dictatorial powers in 1970 in order to counter dwindling support, but in 1972 he was once again overthrown by the military. The leader of the coup, General Guillermo Rodríguez Lara, chief of the army, then assumed the presidency. G. A New Prosperity Among the first acts of the new regime was establishment of a five-year economic plan, stressing agriculture, housing, and industry. In August 1972 the first exports of petroleum were made from new fields developed and operated by U.S. companies. This made Ecuador, at the time, the second largest exporter of petroleum in Latin America, after Venezuela. Oil revenues provided Ecuador with badly needed foreign exchange and investment funds, which produced a decade of nearly uninterrupted prosperity and rapid economic growth, but also spurred inflation and increased the gap between rich and poor. Increased incomes among the Ecuadorians also led to large imports of consumer goods, which resulted in a foreign indebtedness that reached dangerously high levels. President Rodríguez was replaced by Admiral Alfredo Poveda Burbano in 1976; he ruled at the head of a three-man junta. In the following years inflationary pressures were somewhat alleviated. A referendum on a new constitution and subsequent presidential elections were held in 1978, and a runoff between the two top presidential candidates followed in 1979. Later that year Jaime Roldós Aguilera was installed as president, and the new constitution took effect. Roldós promised to initiate social and economic reforms, but conservatives in the legislature blocked his program. Another outbreak of border fighting with Peru was ended by international arbitration in March 1981. Two months later Roldós was killed in a plane crash; his brother León Roldós Aguilera then was named vice president, as former vice president Osvaldo Hurtado Larrea succeeded to the presidency. H. Economic Stagnation Hurtado attempted to continue the reformist and expansionary policies of his predecessors, but Ecuador's excessive burden of foreign debt rendered him unable to overcome the effects of international recession and falling world demand for petroleum. The 1980s became a decade of stagnation, made worse by bad floods in 1983, the collapse of world oil prices in 1985 and 1986, and a devastating earthquake in 1987. In 1984 a conservative businessman, León Febres Cordero Rivadeneira, won the presidency in a runoff election against a left-wing opponent. He proposed to keep Ecuador from defaulting on its foreign debt by devaluing the currency, cutting public spending, lessening protection of domestic industries, and reducing real wages. But these policies, which drew strong opposition from Ecuador's labor unions and opposition parties, were even less successful than the nationalistic policies of the preceding regimes. In 1986 Febres Cordero's Social Christian Party was badly beaten in midterm parliamentary elections. In 1987 Ecuador finally was forced to suspend indefinitely all payments on its foreign debt, which by then had soared well beyond $9 billion. The Febres Cordero government had to put down repeated military rebellions, including a January 1987 uprising in which the president was seized and beaten. Rodrigo Borja Cevallos of the Democratic Left became president after winning a runoff election in 1988. Borja was unable to reduce inflation, unemployment, and the foreign debt, and his party suffered major losses in parliamentary elections in 1990 and 1992. Succeeding him as president in 1992 was Sixto Durán Ballén, who was born and educated in the United States. Durán’s government instituted privatization measures, resulting in the breakup of Petroecuador, the state-owned oil company. Other measures included land-reform efforts requiring that unused land be sold rather than given to poor farmers, a policy that provoked massive protests. In 1994 congressional elections resulted in increased opposition to Durán’s conservative policies, but in a plebiscite held the same year, voters approved most of Durán’s proposed constitutional reforms. In 1995, however, voters rejected a number of proposed reforms, including privatization of the country’s health and social security systems and a restructuring of the presidential, congressional, and judicial powers. Loyalty to Durán’s government had waned earlier that year following a scandal in which Ecuador’s Supreme Court gathered enough evidence to arrest the country’s then-vice president, Alberto Dahik Garzoni, on charges of embezzlement. Dahik resigned his post and fled to Costa Rica to seek political asylum. The Chamber of Representatives elected former Education Minister Eduardo Peña to the vacant seat. Also in early 1995 Ecuador became involved in skirmishes with Peru in the border region claimed by both countries. Fighting lasted for almost two months until a cease-fire was signed. In 1998 Ecuador and Peru signed a peace treaty that finally ended their long-standing border dispute. I. Presidential Crisis In 1996 voters elected Abdalá Bucaram, a populist, as president. Bucaram, who received much of his support from the poorer members of society, campaigned against corruption and opposed the tight fiscal policies that were being implemented in many Latin American countries. However, after the elections, Bucaram retreated from his populist campaign position and introduced austere measures designed to curb Ecuador’s rampant inflation. This cost him much support among the poor, a problem that was compounded by charges that he had engaged in nepotism and corruption. Within six months Bucaram’s administration was widely unpopular. Up to 2 million citizens took part in a general strike on February 5, 1997, with more than 10,000 surrounding the Congress building and calling for impeachment proceedings. On February 6 the National Congress voted to remove Bucaram for “mental incapacity.” Congress voted to replace Bucaram with Fabián Alarcón, president of the Congress, but Alarcón’s succession to the presidency was challenged by Bucaram and by Vice President Rosalía Arteaga Serrano, who claimed the right, as vice president, to succeed Bucaram. A compromise allowed Arteaga to serve briefly as interim president, but she stepped aside following a second vote by Congress on February 11, in which it became apparent that Alarcón had enough support to assume the presidency by amending the constitution. In April 1998 Arteaga resigned as vice president and was replaced by Pedro Aguayo. J. Recent Developments In July 1998 Ecuadorians elected a new president. Jamil Mahuad, the mayor of Quito and the presidential candidate of the Popular Democracy Party, took office in August. Mahuad faced a number of difficult economic problems. During the late 1990s Ecuador’s foreign debts increased substantially, while its economy declined as a result of several factors beyond the control of the government. The 1997 and 1998 El Niño severely damaged crops. A drop in world oil prices reduced the national income from petroleum production. In addition, a financial collapse in Asian economies in 1997 caused an economic slowdown in Ecuador and many other Latin American countries. Many of Ecuador’s banks faced collapse due to the economic downturn. Mahuad announced a series of austerity measures designed to get the nation’s unsteady economy back on its feet. The government eliminated gasoline and electricity subsidies, announced plans to reduce the number of employees in the government agencies, and began plans to sell state-owned companies, including the government-run oil company, to private businesses. Widespread public reaction to the austerity measures led to strikes and public demonstrations. In February 1999, following disturbances in cities across Ecuador, Mahuad reinstated the gasoline subsidy and announced that he would reevaluate his austerity program. The economy continued to worsen, however, with inflation remaining high and the currency, the sucre, losing much of its value. In September 1999 the government failed to make payments on foreign loans. In January 2000, as the sucre kept declining, opposition parties, labor unions, and Native American groups banded together to demand Mahuad’s resignation. Mahuad announced a plan to replace the sucre with the U.S. dollar with the intent of giving the country a stable currency. Thousands of poor Native Americans marched on Quito to protest, fearing that the adoption of the dollar would make them even poorer. On January 21, 2000, sympathetic junior military officers led a bloodless coup d’état, and a three-man junta announced its rule from the Congress building. However, on January 22 the junta turned power over to Vice President Gustavo Noboa Bejarano after the United States threatened to cut aid and the United Nations and the Organization of American States condemned the military coup. That same day the Congress met in a special session at Guayaquil and ratified Noboa’s ascension to the presidency. Noboa followed through on Mahuad’s currency plan, signing a bill in March 2000 that made the U.S. dollar Ecuador’s official currency. The bill also allowed more foreign investment in Ecuador’s oil, electricity, and telecommunications industries. The International Monetary Fund then announced a $2-billion aid package for Ecuador. In 2002 Lucio Gutierrez, a former army colonel, won the presidency of Ecuador. Gutierrez was part of the three-man junta that briefly ruled the country after the 2000 coup ousted Mahuad. After serving a few months in jail for his role in the coup, Gutierrez began campaigning for president. He won the support of many indigenous organizations and left-wing political parties. As president-elect, he pledged to fight corruption and help the country’s poor.