ELOY ALFARO

José Eloy Alfaro Delgado (June 25, 1842 - January 28, 1912) was an Ecuadorian politician who served as the President of Ecuador from 1895 to 1901 and from 1906 to 1911. Alfaro became one of the strongest opponents of pro-Catholic conservative President Gabriel García Moreno (1821–1875) and was known as the Viejo Luchador ("Old Warrior") for playing a central role in the Liberal Revolution of 1895 and having fought conservatism for almost 30 years. Alfaro led the modernization of Ecuadorian society through the introduction of new ideas, education, and systems of public transport and communication, including the engineering feat of the Transandino railway linking Guayaquil with Quito.

Alfaro was the leader of the Ecuadorian Liberal Revolution, until 1895 when the liberals finally took power in a coup d'état, where he deposed President Vicente Lucio Salazar and declared himself a dictator on June 5, 1895 and was later named constitutional president from January 17, 1897 until September 1, 1901.

After initially supporting, but later coming to oppose, his successor, in 1906 he led another revolt, deposing elected President Lizardo Garcia, being declared supreme dictator by the army and continuing in office until August 12, 1911. During this second presidency he enacted a number of changes, among them freedom of speech and the legalization of civil marriage and divorce. He constructed numerous public schools and inaugurated the right to a free and secular education. What is considered to be his greatest public work during this period was the completion of the Trans-Andean Railroad connecting Guayaquil to Quito.

In 1911, he was removed from office by his former supporters. On January 28, 1912, a group of pro-Catholic soldiers whose motto was "Muerte al indio Alfaro" (death to the Indian Alfaro), supported by a mob, broke into the prison where Alfaro and his colleagues were detained and dragged them along the cobbled streets of the city center.  The crowd finally burnt the corpses in the area where the present day park of El Ejido is located. (A monument was erected in the 1960s at the site.) Days later, Alfaro's remains were buried in Quito, in secret. They were transported to Guayaquil and deposited in a mausoleum there at some time in the 1940s

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