Thursday, 24 May 2007

Dios, patria y libertad

Today's the 185th anniversary of the Battle of Pichincha, in which patriotic forces led by Antonio Jose de Sucre defeated the royalists and effectively won independence for the Presidencia de Quito. Eight years later, it and the provinces of Guayaquil and Cuenca would secede fom the Republic of Colombia to form modern Ecuador.
It's interesting that a unit of British volunteers (The Albion - see the link?) fought on the Patriots' side, although their motives may have had little to do with idealism and more to do with a proliferation of Napoleonic War veterans hungry for employment, adventure, loot and land, or all four.
I was lucky enough to spend some time in this wonderful country this time last year. Although it continues to have its political and economic troubles, it's an optimistic, vibrant place, with an eminently sensible attitude towards race and immigration (the majority of the population are mestizos, that is, of mixed European and Indian ancestry) that one of our guides summed up as "we're all incomers here".
Anyway, to my friends and correspondents over there, I hope you have a great holiday, and many prosperous, happy times ahead.


Kirk Wisebeard said...

pity our own nation of incomers can't follow their example.... as a mongrel Englishman, I personally couldn't care less who comes into England as long as they don't cause trouble.... lets be honest... we're all descended from immigrants... I am....

Matt Merritt said...

Precisely. As I was over there during the World Cup, it was interesting too to see how they managed to be fiercely patriotic without feeling the need to set up other countries as 'enemies'. Possibly it would have been slightly different had Peru been involved, but generally there seems to be a much more laid-back attitude.