EUGENIO ESPEJO

Francisco Javier Eugenio de Santa Cruz y Espejo (Royal Audiencia of Quito, February 21, 1747) was a medical pioneer, writer and lawyer of mestizo origin in colonial Ecuador. Although he was a notable scientist and writer, he stands out as a polemicist who inspired the separatist movement in Quito. He is regarded as one of the most important figures in colonial Ecuador. He was Quito's first journalist and hygienist.

Despite his family's somewhat unstable economic situation, Espejo had a good education. He instructed himself in medicine by working alongside his father at the Hospital de la Misericordia. According to Espejo, he learned "by experience, which cannot be known without studying with pen in hand." Overcoming racial discrimination, he graduated from medical school, and shortly afterwards graduated in jurisprudence and canon law.

Espejo provoked the colonial authorities, who regarded him as responsible for several satirical and mocking posters. He wrote a handful of reproachful and satirical manuscripts under pseudonyms to maintain his anonymity and to remove any hint of his crossbreeding in a culture which granted any white person importance and prestige. In 1785, he was asked by the town council to write about smallpox, the worst medical problem the Audiencia faced. Espejo used the opportunity to write his most complete and best-written work, "Reflections about a method to preserve the people from smallpox"

Eugenio Espejo is considered the precursor of the independence movement in Quito. He was an autodidact, and with his writing he wanted to educate the people and to awaken a rebellious spirit in them. Because of his liberal ideas, he was imprisoned on January 30, 1795, being allowed to leave his cell only to treat his patients as a doctor and, on December 23, to die at his home from the dysentery he acquired during his imprisonment. Eugenio Espejo died on December 28

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