JOSÉ ELOY ALFAROBIOGRAPHYJosé Eloy Alfaro (1842-1912) was an Ecuadorian revolutionary leader and president. He is the great hero of Ecuadorianradicals.José Eloy Alfaro was born on June 25, 1842, in Montecristi in the coastal province of Manabí. His father, Manuel Alfaro,was a Spaniard who came to the town as a buyer of straw hats and settled down to live with Natividad Delgado, a girlwith mixed white, Indian, and African ancestry. They had eight children, and their common-law marriage was legalizedthrough a church wedding in 1863.Eloy Alfaro was 22 years old when he started his revolutionary career by taking prisoner the governor of the province.From then till 1889, he was constantly engaged in efforts to subvert the successive governments of Ecuador, either as anindependent guerrilla leader, as an officer in a bigger revolutionary movement, or as the backer of otherrevolutionaries. His originally successful business ventures in Panama and his marriage there to Doña Ana Paredes yArosemena gave him the financial means to pursue these activities. Even though he invariably failed, his constantactivity led to his recognition by liberals as a general, and his prestige further increased as a result of contacts withoutstanding liberal revolutionaries from other countries.In 1895 the coalition of moderates and extreme conservatives in power in Ecuador split, with the conservativesrevolting. The liberals seized the opportunity and rose in the coastal city of Guayaquil. Lacking a military leader withsufficient prestige, they remembered Alfaro and called him back. The Old Fighter, as he was known, marched with hisarmy on Quito and soon had his authority established over the country.Alfaro occupied the presidency from September 1895 until January 1901. His successor, Gen. Leónidas Plaza, had beenhis first choice for the post, but at the last moment he pressed for Plazas withdrawal. Alfaro was unsuccessful, andrelations between the two men remained cool. When, in 1905, Plaza handed over the presidency to his own candidate,Lizardo García, Alfaro overthrew the new president within 4 months and on Jan. 17, 1906, assumed that office himself.Alfaro remained president until Aug. 11, 1911, when he was ousted for refusing to hand over the presidency to hislegally elected successor--again originally handpicked by himself--Emilio Estrada. Alfaro and his followers were sent intoexile. But within 4 months President Estrada died, and Alfaro immediately returned to Guayaquil to launch a revoltagainst the provisional government, which was favorable to Gen. Plaza. His attempt failed, and Alfaro was captured withhis most important followers and sent to Quito. On the day of their arrival, Jan. 28, 1912, they were lynched by a mobthat broke into the prison.Alfaro did not deserve the way he died, but he certainly had been courting a violent death. With the exception of hisyears in the presidency, he had been a threat to his countrys political stability for 50 years. As president, he condonedand occasionally even ordered political murders. Under him rapacious militarism became the curse of the country, andelectoral fraud and nepotism were institutionalized. He pursued a bungling foreign policy. The essential aspect of hisreforms was the separation of Church and State, by no means an unmixed blessing in the case of Ecuador. He was ableto reduce the political influence of the great landowners of the central highlands, though at the cost of strengtheningthe power of the coastal oligarchy. Perhaps the greatest achievement of his 11 years as president was the completion ofthe railroad linking Guayaquil to Quito, through the efforts of Archer Harman, an entrepreneur from the United States.