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Famous People From Quito

Eugenio Espejo

Eugenio Espejo is considered one of the most influential figures in colonial Ecuador. Born to a Quechua father in 1747, Espejo became both a lawyer and a doctor. In 1785, the town council asked Espejo to write a medical report on small pox. In his greatest work, Espejo denounced the way the colonial government handled sanitation. His work was sent back to Madrid and published in a medical journal, which made him many enemies because of his criticism of the physicians in the colonial government. This forced Espejo to flee Quito until 1790. He returned to serve as both the director of Quito's first public library and as the director of the Patriotic Society. The society was set up by the church for influential thinkers to discuss the social, economic, political and educational problems in Quito. The society also published Quito's first newspaper with Espejo serving as the editor. King Charles IV of Spain dissolved the society in 1793 and the newspaper quickly folded forcing Espejo to take a job as a librarian. His liberal views landed him jail and he died of dysentery in 1795. Today he is considered Ecuador's first journalist and a medical pioneer.

Juan José Flores

Juan José Flores became the Supreme Chief of Ecuador in 1830 after its separation from Gran Colombia. Born in Puerto Cabello, Venezuela in 1800, Flores became a renowned military leader before becoming the first president of Ecuador. He first ruled from 1830 to 1834 and served two more terms from 1839 to 1845. Flores' popularity declined after intervening in the politics of Nueva Granada . While his popularity steadily declined with his increased use of military, Flores replaced the 1835 constitution with a new one that Ecuadorians nicknamed the “letter of slavery.” He was finally overthrown by future president Vicente Ramón Roca in 1845 and died in 1864 while under house arrest of President Gabriel García Moreno. He is still referred to as “the founder of the Republic.”

Gabriel García Moreno

Gabriel García Moreno served three terms as the president of Ecuador from 1861 to 1875 and is known for strengthening the power of the Catholic Church in the country. Moreno was born in 1821 in Guayaquil. He studied theology and law at the University of Quito and seriously considered becoming a priest. He became a lawyer and a journalist, and opposed the liberal government of the 1840s.He entered the political realm as a senator in 1856 and then ruled as president for four years starting in 1861. He returned to office in 1869. He changed the constitution and made Catholicism the official state religion and required all voters and candidates for office to be Catholic. This caused hatred amongst his liberal critics. Shortly after re-election in 1875, Moreno was attacked on the steps of the Palacio de Gobierno. He was hacked to death by a machete and his final words were, “God does not die!” He is still highly regarded in Ecuador for stabilizing the country and uniting the country through religion.

Maria Augusta Urrutia

Maria Augusta Urrutia is considered one of Ecuador's most influential humanitarians. Born into an aristocratic family from Quito in 1901, Urrutia spent much of her youth in Europe. After her husband's death in 1931, Urrutia dedicated her life to charitable activities. She was known for helping the street kids of Quito and her influence is still felt today through volunteer programs throughout Quito. Because of her work with the poor of Quito, President Osvaldo Hurtado recognized Urrutia as one of the top 100 Ecuadorians in 1982. She died in 1987.

By Thomas Griffin

I recently graduated from the School of Journalism and Communication at the University of Oregon. I studied in Sevilla, Spain in...

29 Apr 2010

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