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Ecuador is a country long ravaged by the use of military force
to control the populous’ lives. Military governments are the norm
in this chaotic country, while peace reigns only when the dictator is strong
enough to squelch his enemies. For the longest of times, the military
coup has been the method of choosing the head of state for Ecuador.
Perhaps the greatest example of the military leader assuming
dictatorial powers in Ecuador is José Mariá Velasco Ibarra
(not to be confused with General Juan Velasco Alvarado, of Peru), who led
the government on and off from 1946 through 1972. While not a true
military man, he used the power of the military (primarily gained through
appointing his nephew to be head of the Department of the Military) to
establish his control over the country. (Fitch 1977, 175).
With the military as his aide, Velasco became free to rule more or less
as he pleased, which did not do the citizenry any good.
The people of Ecuador tend to be little effected by those in
power. (Schodt 1987, 68). They rarely participate in politics,
leaving such issues to the Spanish descendents. This lack of participation
by the masses likely makes it easier for someone like Velasco to take and
maintain dictatorial powers over the country.
The present situation in Ecuador is equally as grim as the past,
though there is no more Velasco to turn to when things go wrong.
A recent revolt has left the country in a state of turmoil again, with
no one quite sure who’s in charge and who is left out. This time,
however, it is not just the military getting involved, but also the peasantry,
as the Indian population has found a leader, and have pushed him into the
presidency. However, he did not stay there long, as the military
forced him out of power within a month. Whether the new military
leader will follow Velasco’s path and assume dictatorial control or not
remains to be seen. It is safe to say, though, that Ecuador is a
country ruled not by its people, but by its elite classes who use the military
to take and hold power.