Ecuador's traditional parties were the Conservatives and Liberals. The former represented particularly the rural aristocracy of the highlands and were strong supporters of the Catholic Church. The Liberals were stronger in the coastal area centering on Guayaquil, were anti-clerical and more generally represented the nascent middle class and artisan worker`s.
By the 1930's, the traditional parties had begun to disintegrate. This was particularly the case with the Liberals. Both a Socialist and a Communist Party appeared in that decade, which was marked by frequent military coups.
During the 1930s there also emerged the amazing career of José María Velasco Ibarra, who during the next four decades served five times as President of the Republic ( 1933-1935; 1944-1947; 1952-1956; 1960-1961; 1968-1972). Velasco Ibarra was overthrown four different times, serving out his full term only in the 1952-1956 period.
Unfortunately, I never had a chance to talk with Velasco Ibarra. However, three of his periods in office are relevant to the conversations which follow. One is his 1944-1947 dictatorship, when in elections following his overthrow Galo Plaza was elected president, beginning a thirteen-year period in which constitutionally elected presidents succeeded one another peacefully.
The second Velasco Ibarra period which is dealt with in what follows is the one in which he served out his full term, 1952-1956. President Galo Plaza makes reference to that period in one of his conversations with me.