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Ecuador celebrates bicentenary of declaration of independence

August 10, 2009 - ECUADOR

Ecuador celebrates the bicentenary of its declaration of independence from Spain on 10 Aug 1809, almost 20 years since the country returned to democracy after a string of military dictatorships. President Rafael Correa won't have the cash to mark the milestone in a lavish way. While the other Latin American countries will open museums, monuments, buildings and grand infrastructure works for their bicentenaries, Ecuador's cash flow problem is likely to limit the country to cultural events.

On Aug 10, almost 20 years since the country returned to democracy after a string of military dictatorships, Ecuador celebrates the bicentenary of its declaration of independence from Spain on 10 Aug 1809. President Rafael Correa won't have the cash to mark the milestone in a lavish way. While the other Latin American countries will open museums, monuments, buildings and grand infrastructure works for their bicentenaries, Ecuador's cash flow problem is likely to limit the country to cultural events. The country won its independence in 1822, when famed South American liberator Simón Bolívar defeated a Spanish army at the battle of Pinchincha. Military dictators have ruled the country for most of its recent history. Free elections have continued since, but political instability rules and is partly responsible for the country's financial peril. Correa, a leftist former economy minister, offered to buy back about US $3.2 billion in global bonds due in 2030 and 2012 that he refused to pay in 2008 on charges the debt was issued "illegally" by past administrations. Ministers of culture of the Ibero-American group met in 2007 to form the Bicentennial Group. Made up by Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Venezuela and Chile--nations that began their emancipation process from the Spanish crown between 1809 and 1811--it aims to coordinate independence activities across the continent. Bolivia and Ecuador celebrate their bicentennials in 2009, followed by Argentina, Chile, and Mexico in 2010, and with Venezuela and Paraguay in 2011. Colombia has decided to commemorate its anniversary in 2019. Guatemala and Peru follow in 2021. The National Academy of History of Ecuador and the Presidential Executive Committee for the Bicentennial of Independence of Ecuador are in charge of the commemorative activities. Among them is an international contest of Ecuador history with the theme, "International Transcendence of the Autonomous Quito Government of August 10, 1809." The wars of independence in Spain's colonies in the Americas, which cost hundreds of thousands of lives, were sparked by the French invasion of Spain in 1808. May/09

Grupo Bicentenario

Profile: Ecuador's Rafael Correa (BBC 27 Apr 2009)

Regional lenders back Quito in debt talks (BBC 18 May Reuters)

Date written/update: 2009-08-10