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.