August 6, 1875
Speech on Gabriel Garcia Moreno on the 100th Anniversary of His Death
August 6, 1875 – August 6, 1975
It happened 100 years ago….
In 1932, the historian, Don Alfonso Rumazo Gonzalez, wrote in his work "Governments of Ecuador", on Gabriel Garcia Moreno’s death saying: "…the death of Garcia Moreno gave a blow of death to Ecuador and cut the vital sap of the progress and true liberty that ran abundantly through the Nation". He finished his study with this phrase: "Garcia Moreno was the only man – a genius – that gave the Republic of Ecuador life".
This 6th day of August marks the 100th anniversary of this terrible event. In 1875, the date was a day of tragedy, of anguish, of mourning for the Republic that had lost her great constructor. Presently, in 1975, this day is a day of exaltation, for this extraordinary figure, that the North American historian Richard Pattee states– "occupies a transcendental place in the history of the country [Ecuador]".
The personality of Garcia Moreno has been the object of debate on hundreds of occasions by historians, investigators, and critics of diverse nationalities; some, Europeans and others, Americans. It is important to note that the proportion of foreign historians compared to Ecuadorians that have studied Garcia Moreno is enormous.
Up until the present day, this superior man, of vigorous personality, has been the object of controversy. In the past 100 years, in spite of the evident truth, there are those that reappear and violently combat him, denying the obvious with blindness. There are also those who elevate him to supernatural heights.
For the dignity of our country and our history, we ought to advise all of the Ecuadorians to find for Garcia Moreno the true seat of honor, which ought to be his.
He was a man of science, of study, more than a lawyer he was a mathematician, chemist, naturalist, University teacher, whose intellectual quality raised him to the rector of the University of Quito.
It is difficult to summarize the works of Garcia Moreno. The material was immense; his labor in the moral, the political, the economic, the fiscal, the legislative fields was very extensive… and what can be said about his work in the education and the culture of this country?
Garcia Moreno is immortalized with the highway between Quito and Guayaquil that bears his name and still serves us until the present day. He is remembered with the initiation of the railway train, with the National Polytechnic School, with the Astronomical Observatory in Quito, with the National Penitentiary, the School of Art "Bello Artes". The name of Garcia Moreno will be commemorated for the extraordinary expansion of the primary schools and work towards women’s education, founding of grammar schools and high schools more than any other leader of the Country in the past century. We thank him for the reform of Universities, the progress of Medicine, and founding of the school for the sick and the organization of the system of Hospitals. To him, we owe the organization in an orderly manner the system of taxation and budget, the first laws of Banking and the first Bank of Ecuador.
Garcia Moreno imposed the liberty of suffrage and representation proportionate to the Provinces on the Congress, eliminating the antiquated and unethical departmental representation. Under Garcia Moreno, Ecuador marched ahead of the rest of the American Republics.
On Friday, August 6,1875, at two in the afternoon, a group of conspirators, armed with machetes and revolvers, met Garcia Moreno on the steps of the Presidential Palace. The principal assassin, with ferocity without limits, gave the fatal blow to this great magistrate, who could not defend himself against the violence of the attack. He fell lifeless from the railing of the Palace to the street. In this state of agony, he was carried to the interior of the Cathedral and was placed at the foot of the altar of Our Lady of Sorrows and expired.
Biologically, they cut out his life on this day- 100 years ago – nevertheless his personality has surpassed time. Today and always the country honors and admires him.
Dr. Francisco Salazar Alvarado – promoter of the cause for canonization of Gabriel Garcia Moreno.