Thursday, August 10, 2006

¡Felíz Diez de Agosto!

Today, August 10th, is Ecuador's independence day.

To be technical about this holiday, Ecuador did not officially gain its independence from Spain (or Gran Colombia, for that matter) on August 10th. On that date in 1809, a group of nobles in Quito, a colonial city that served as the seat of an administrative district (audiencia real) essentially encompassing what is now Ecuador, apparently became agitated by Napoleonic intervention in Spain and declared the city to be independent of that nation.

Quito's "independence" was short-lived, however. The following summer, Spanish forces from Lima in what is now Peru entered Quito and killed the leaders of the rebellion. It would be another dozen years before Quito would finally be free of Spanish rule; On May 24, 1822, Spanish forces were defeated in the decisive Battle of Pichincha, which occurred on the volcanic slopes overlooking the city, and Spanish loyalists were subsequently expelled from Quito.

For the next eight years, Quito and surrounding districts were part of the Republic of Gran Columbia. Ecuador did not formally come into existence as its own independent nation until May 13, 1830.

Ecuadorians nevertheless consider August 10th to be significant because it marks their country's inital declaration of independence (primer grito de independencia), much like the Fourth of July here in the United States marks this country's declaration of independence. For that reason, Diez de Agosto is Ecuador's most important national holiday.

Don't ever say you don't learn something when you read Mean Green Cougar Red!

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