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La Hoguera Barbara: Manabí’s Traditional Memorial Day

La Hoguera Barbara Memorial Day | Start Living Ecuador

January 28th is a Memorial Day for all the principles that Alfaro fought for in the Liberal Revolution and what those struggles meant to the country

Manabí, specifically in Montecristi on June 25th, 1842, is the place of birth of General Eloy Alfaro. He who was two times president of Ecuador (1897-1901 and 1906-1911) is known as the leader of the liberal revolution in Ecuador.

He fought against the conservatives for more than 30 years and therefore was nicknamed the Viejo Luchador (Old Fighter). During his presidencies, he created the National Registration Office (Registro Civil), promoted free secular education, founded public schools that up until now are highly prestigious and recognized: Colegio Militar Eloy Alfaro, Colegio Bolívar of Tulcán, Colegio Nacional Mejía, Colegio Manuela Cañizares, and Colegio Juan Montalvo. But maybe the two things he is even more recognized for these days are: 1) eliminating what was called concertaje, which was a form of exploitation towards workers, mainly peasants, Indians and montubios; and 2) building the Ferrocarril Trasandino, the railway that united the cities of Quito and Guayaquil.

Thrown in jail in January 22nd, 1912 with other liberal idealists in Guayaquil, and then transferred to Quito. It was in this last city where a horde of conservatives, said to have been incited by certain mass media and church representatives, entered the jail and murdered them. But the atrocity didn’t end there, and later the multitude dragged their corpses to El Ejido Park, where they were incinerated in plain sight of the conservative crowd.

This event is what the famous Ecuadorian writer Alfredo Pareja Diezcanseco wrote about in his book called La Hoguera Barbara (The Barbaric Bonfire).  For all the people from Manabí Eloy Alfaro is a symbol of their pride, values, and traditions, hence when in 2007 a New Constitution was being drafted, the place they chose for this purpose was Montecristi.

Later at this locality, where the Constituent Assembly was held, a Memorial Monument and Museum was built in honor of General Eloy Alfaro. Today called Ciudad Alfaro is the place where part of the ashes of the late president were taken in 2007.

Since then, on January 28th a Memorial Ceremony is held in Ciudad Alfaro to remember all the principles that Alfaro fought for in the Liberal Revolution and what those struggles meant to the development of the country as we know it nowadays.

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