THE POSTWAR ERA, 1944-84
The Quiteño multitudes standing in the pouring rain on
May 31, 1944, to hear Velasco promise a "national resurrection,"
with social justice and due punishment for the "corrupt Liberal
oligarchy" that had been responsible for "staining the national
honor," believed that they were witnessing the birth of a popular
revolution. Arroyo partisans were promptly jailed or sent into
exile, while Velasco verbally baited the business community and the
rest of the political right. The leftist elements within Velasco's
Democratic Alliance, which dominated the constituent assembly that
was convened to write a new constitution, were nonetheless destined
to be disappointed.
In May 1945, after a year of growing hostility between the
president and the assembly, which was vainly awaiting deeds to
substantiate Velasco's rhetorical advocacy of social justice, the
mercurial chief executive condemned and then repudiated the newly
completed constitution. After dismissing the assembly, Velasco held
elections for a new assembly, which in 1946 drafted a far more
conservative constitution that met with the president's approval.
For this brief period, Conservatives replaced the left as Velasco's
base of support.
Rather than attending to the nation's economic problems,
Velasco aggravated them by financing the dubious schemes of his
associates. Inflation continued unabated, as did its negative
impact on the national standard of living, and by 1947 foreignexchange reserves had fallen to dangerously low levels. In August,
when Velasco was ousted by his minister of defense, nobody rose to
defend the man who, only three years earlier, had been hailed as
the nation's savior. During the following year, three different men
briefly held executive power before Galo Plaza Lasso, running under
a coalition of independent Liberals and socialists, narrowly
defeated his Conservative opponent in presidential elections. His
inauguration in September 1948 initiated what was to become the
longest period of constitutional rule since the 1912-24 heyday of
the Liberal plutocracy.
Data as of 1989