José María Velasco Ibarra

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José María Velasco Ibarra
José María Velasco Ibarra.jpg
24th President of Ecuador
In office
September 1, 1968 February 15, 1972
Vice President Jorge Zavala Baquerizo
Preceded by Otto Arosemena Gómez
Succeeded by Guillermo Rodríguez Lara
In office
September 1, 1960 November 7, 1961
Vice President Carlos Julio Arosemena Monroy
Preceded byCamilo Ponce Enríquez
Succeeded by Carlos Julio Arosemena Monroy
In office
September 1, 1952 August 31, 1956
Vice PresidentAlfredo Chiriboga
Preceded by Galo Plaza Lasso
Succeeded by Camilo Ponce Enríquez
In office
August 11, 1946 August 23, 1947
Vice President Mariano Suárez Veintimilla
Preceded byHimself
Succeeded byCarlos Mancheno Cajas
In office
June 1, 1944 August 11, 1946
Preceded by Carlos Alberto Arroyo del Río
Succeeded byHimself
In office
September 1, 1934 August 21, 1935
Preceded by Abelardo Montalvo
Succeeded by Antonio Pons
Personal details
José María Velasco Ibarra

(1893-03-19)March 19, 1893
Quito, Ecuador
DiedMarch 30, 1979(1979-03-30) (aged 86)
Quito, Ecuador
Political party Conservative
Corina del Parral
(m. 1938;died 1979)
Alma mater Central University of Ecuador
Signature Firma de Velasco Ibarra.svg

José María Velasco Ibarra (March 19, 1893 – March 30, 1979) [1] was an Ecuadorian politician. He became president of Ecuador five times, in 1934–1935, 1944–1947, 1952–1956, 1960–1961, and 1968–1972, and only in 1952–1956 did he complete a full term. In his four other terms he was removed by military force, and several times he was installed as president through a military coup.

Ecuador Republic in South America

Ecuador, officially the Republic of Ecuador, is a country in northwestern South America, bordered by Colombia on the north, Peru on the east and south, and the Pacific Ocean to the west. Ecuador also includes the Galápagos Islands in the Pacific, about 1,000 kilometres (620 mi) west of the mainland. The capital city is Quito and the largest city as well.

President of Ecuador position

The President of Ecuador officially called the President of the Republic of Ecuador serves as both the head of state and head of government of Ecuador, is the highest political office in the country as the head of the executive branch of government. As per the current Constitution, the President can serve two four-year terms. Prior to that, the president could only serve one four-year term.


Early life and career

Velasco Ibarra was born on March 19, 1893 in Quito. His parents were Delia Ibarra and Alejandrino Velasco, a civil engineer. His father was a political activist in the conservative party during the dictatorship installed by the liberal revolution. He was home schooled by his mother. His father died when he was 16. He attended high school at Colegio San Gabriel and obtained a JD (Doctorate in Jurisprudence) from the Central University of Ecuador. As an author he published several books, including Conciencia y Barbarie , and was also a columnist for El Comercio .

Juris Doctor The Juris Doctor degree (J.D. or JD), also known as the Doctor of Jurisprudence degree (J.D., JD, D.Jur. or DJur), is a graduate-entry professional degree in law and one of several Doctor of Law degree

The Juris Doctor degree, also known as the Doctor of Jurisprudence degree, is a graduate-entry professional degree in law and one of several Doctor of Law degrees. The Juris Doctor is earned by completing law school in Australia, Canada, the United States, and some other common law countries. It has the academic standing of a professional doctorate in the United States, a master's degree in Australia, and a second-entry, baccalaureate degree in Canada.

Central University of Ecuador university in Ecuador

The Central University of Ecuador is a national university located in Quito, Ecuador and is the oldest and largest university in Ecuador, and one of the oldest in the Americas. The enrollment at Central University of Ecuador is over 10,000 students per year.

El Comercio is a daily Ecuadorian newspaper in Quito. It covers news from inside and outside the country, although its focus is primarily on the former, especially on Quito, Guayaquil and occasionally Cuenca. It competes against El Universo for the largest print distribution in Ecuador.

His first public post was in Quito's Municipal Government, where he supervised works and visited communities. His political career began when he was named a Deputy of the Republic. He was elected as Vice President of the Chamber of Deputies and several days later, President of the Chamber.


In 1933, he stood in the Ecuadorian presidential election and received 80% of the votes cast, the highest in Ecuadorian history. Velasco Ibarra traveled through several Latin American countries, including Peru, and restored Ecuador's global image. His first presidency began on September 1, 1934, but he was ousted in August 1935 by the military. He went into exile in Colombia, where he worked in the Santander School in Sevilla, which was named the best school in Colombia. Later, he traveled to Buenos Aires, where he worked as a university professor.

He stood again in the 1940 election and was defeated by the Radical Liberal Party candidate Carlos Arroyo del Río by a small margin. Arroyo del Río lacked Velasco Ibarra's popularity and public support, which indicated that there had been a fraud. Velasco Ibarra plotted a coup d'état with pilots from the Salinas Air Force base. Before executing his plan, he was detained and exiled again.

The Ecuadorian Radical Liberal Party was a liberal party in Ecuador and is one of the oldest existing political parties in Ecuador.

1944 was an especially acute crisis, following the defeat of Ecuador in a war with Peru. There was a bitter rivalry between the conservative regular army and the more radical national police (the 'carabineros'). High inflation had soured the people. Velasco Ibarra build his coalition using the rhetoric of moral reform, calling for the virtuous common people to rise against the corrupt and selfish oligarchy. Velasco presented himself as the embodiment of positive moral qualities, appealing to both Left and Right without presenting any precise political program. Thanks to the May 28 "Glorious Revolution", he was named Supreme Chief of the Republic and was later named Constitutional President by the Constituent Assembly. In August 1947, he was again deposed by the military. Three defense ministers perpetuated the coup against Velasco Ibarra; among them was minister Mancheno, who later was his successor. [2]

In 1952, he again won the presidential election, and began his third term as president on September 1, 1952. This time, he served his entire term, which ended on August 31, 1956. His third term was a time of progress for Ecuador: 311 schools were constructed, with another 104 in progress. More than 1359 km of roads were constructed, and 1057 km more were improved.

José María Velasco Ibarra on a 2014 stamp of Ecuador Stamps of Ecuador, 2014-27.jpg
José María Velasco Ibarra on a 2014 stamp of Ecuador

Velasco Ibarra was a noted orator: in his political campaigns from town to town, he captivated people with eloquence, becoming a leader of the masses. Velasco Ibarra once said, "Give me a balcony and I will become president." [3]

In 1960, he was elected president for the fourth time and was removed on November 7, 1961. In 1960, he nullified the Rio de Janeiro Protocol, which led to conflicts between Ecuador and Peru, including Paquisha in 1981 and the War of El Cenepa in 1995.

Finally, in 1968, Velasco Ibarra won the presidency for a fifth time. This government ended abruptly on February 15, 1972, when once more he was deposed in a bloodless coup, which brought General Guillermo Rodríguez Lara to power. In total, Velasco Ibarra governed nearly 13 years, making him the longest-serving president in Ecuadorian history (although Rafael Correa's decade-long presidency from 2007 until 2017 is the longest continuous presidency). The events surrounding the end of his fifth and last presidency are dealt with in Philip Agee's book Inside the Company: A CIA Diary.

Ibarra was a fiery populist who did not have a formal party organization. Rather it was his populist rhetoric that attracted enthusiastic followers, as he presented himself as the advocate of the poor and downtrodden. In office he was not responsible for major reforms, but he used patronage effectively to maintain his largely inefficient and corrupt administrations. [4]

There is debate about whether his rule can correctly be labelled as populist. Following Agustin Cueva, several authors have argued that in the midst of a hegemonic crisis Velasco rose to power on the votes of the coastal sub-proletariat, peasants who had migrated to urban centres as the cacao industry dwindled. The charismatic figure of Velasco, according to this view, emotionally captured the masses with promises of redemption. Others, among them Rafael Quintero, argue that the entrenched landowning elite was instrumental for Velasco's victory (at least in the 1930s), as the Coastal elite had been weakened by the end of the cacao boom. [5]


Velasco Ibarra always had a special preoccupation with infrastructure. Many public works, including roads, hospitals, and bridges, were constructed during Velasco Ibarra's presidencies. He was the initiator of institutions such as the Supreme Electoral Tribunalián and Guamote. He decreed the law of weekly days off for workers, ordered the construction of irrigation canals, educational infrastructure, aircraft fields, and highways.


Velasco Ibarra's wife, Corina Parral de Velasco Ibarra died in Buenos Aires after falling from a bus. This precipitated the death of Velasco Ibarra, who said on his return to Ecuador, "I come to meditate and to die." He died in Quito, on March 30, 1979.

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  1. Profile of José María Velasco Ibarra
  2. Carlos De la Torre, "Velasco Ibarra and ‘La Revolución Gloriosa’: The Social Production of a Populist Leader in Ecuador in the 1940s." Journal of Latin American Studies 26#3 (1994): 683-711.
  3. "The return of populism". The Economist. April 12, 2006.
  4. Georg Maier, "Presidential Succession in Ecuador, 1830-1970." Journal of Interamerican Studies and World Affairs 13#3-4 (1971): 475-509.
  5. Carlos De la Torre, "Populism and democracy: political discourses and cultures in contemporary Ecuador." Latin American Perspectives 24.3 (1997): 12-24. online

Further reading

Political offices
Preceded by
Abelardo Montalvo
President of Ecuador
Succeeded by
Antonio Pons
Preceded by
Carlos Alberto Arroyo del Río
President of Ecuador
Succeeded by
Carlos Mancheno Cajas
Preceded by
Galo Plaza
President of Ecuador
Succeeded by
Camilo Ponce Enríquez
Preceded by
Camilo Ponce Enríquez
President of Ecuador
Succeeded by
C.J. Arosemena Monroy
Preceded by
Otto Arosemena
President of Ecuador
Succeeded by
Guillermo Rodríguez Lara