Velasco Ibarra

Velasco Ibarra

[be-lahs-kaw ee-vahr-rah]
Velasco Ibarra, José María, 1893-1979, president of Ecuador (1934-35, 1944-47, 1952-56, 1960-61, 1968-72). A noted orator, he was twice elected president and deposed before succeeding Galo Plaza Lasso as president in 1952. Although he censored the press, he spurred the construction of new schools and roads; the country prospered, and he managed to complete his term. Elected again in 1960, he announced a program of economic reform but soon became unpopular as a result of austerity measures. He was forced (Nov., 1961) by an army junta to resign. Reelected in 1968, he faced a hostile congress, overwhelming economic problems, and increasing political chaos. After rioting by thousands of university students, he disbanded congress and, with the backing of the army, established a dictatorship (June, 1970). In Feb., 1972, after Velasco Ibarra insisted upon holding elections in which populist leader Assad Bucaram seemed certain to win, military leaders overthrew Velasco Ibarra and replaced him with a junta headed by Gen. Guillermo Rodriguez Lara.
José María Velasco Ibarra (March 19, 1893 - March 30, 1979) was an Ecuadorian political figure. He served as the president of Ecuador in 1934 and 1935, again from 1944 to 1947, for a third time between 1952 and 1956, penultimately from 1960 and 1961, and finally between 1968 and 1972.

The events surrounding the end of his 4th presidency are dealt with in Philip Agee's book CIA Diary.

Debate abounds as to whether his rule can correctly be labelled as populist. Following Agustin Cueva several authors have argued that in the midst of a hegemonic crisis José María 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 multitude with promises of redemption. Others, among them Rafael Quintero, argue that the entrenched landowning elite was responsible for Velasco's victory (at least in the 30s), as the Coastal elite had been weakened by the end of the cacao boom.


“Give me a balcony and I will become president,” said José María Velasco, Ecuador's most prominent populist, who was five times elected president and four times overthrown by the army.


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