García Moreno, Gabriel (gäbrēĕlˈ gärsēˈä mōrāˈnō) [key], 1821–75, president of Ecuador (1861–65, 1869–75), b. Guayaquil. A conservative with deep religious convictions, he gradually came to believe that Ecuadorans could only be united as a nation through their common Roman Catholic faith. As president he promulgated new constitutions (1861, 1869), signed (1862) a concordat with the church by which the civil power became the guarantor and executor of the church's independence and granted to it control over education, and ultimately established an authoritarian government in which Roman Catholic influence was paramount. A storm of liberal opposition was vigorously suppressed. Between terms as president he retained his hold by installing puppets. He was reelected in 1869 and granted additional privileges to the clerics; he also took extraordinary powers for himself. He is remembered more for his strong views and personality than his ability as an administrator who put his country on a sound financial basis and introduced a number of important material reforms. He was assassinated.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.