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History, Regimes of Flores and Rocafuerte

Rocafuerte, Gran Colombia, presidential mansion, Queen Isabella, mutual defense

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 Bolivar’s army in the War of Independence. He was in command of troops in Quito in 1830 and after Bolivar 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 Garcia Moreno invited Flores back to command the army and help restore order.

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