Ecuador Opens Historical Congresses Commemorating “a Great American Date”

By Dialogo
July 30, 2009

Quito, 27 July (EFE).- Ecuadorean authorities and participants in the Seventh Ecuadorean Historical Congress and the Fourth South American Historical Congress, both of which began today in Quito, held an official opening ceremony for the meetings with the central theme “Varieties of Independence: A World Perspective,” in commemoration of “a great American date.” That was the phrase used by Ecuadorean Minister of Education Raúl Vallejo, who was officially responsible for opening the event, representing Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa. In his speech at the opening ceremony, Vallejo recalled that this conference is taking place in the framework of the events celebrating the bicentennial on 10 August of the Revolution of Quito, which led to the struggle against Spanish troops for Ecuadorean independence. “It’s not only a great date in the history of Quito, but a great American date,” the minister declared, thereby agreeing with the rector of Simón Bolívar Andean University, Enrique Ayala, the mayor of Quito, Andrés Vallejo, Indian historian Ishita Banerjee, and Ecuadorean Minister of Culture Ramiro Noriega, all of whom also participated in the event. Vallejo insisted on the “pressing obligation” of peoples and citizens “to prepare the time to come through critical awareness,” a task he attributed to historians as individuals who “are not strangers to the labors of the present and the future.” The Ecuadorean government’s representative also had something to say to those who believe that the independence of the Latin American nations is still not “real independence,” and he urged on society that if “neocolonialisms have maintained their domination (...) it is time to invoke our illustrious founders.” The mayor of Quito, Andrés Vallejo, awarded the status of guest of honor of the Ecuadorean capital to former Haitian president Leslie Manigat, representing all the international speakers. Manigat surprised those present by speaking briefly in Spanish, affirming that he felt “proud” that Latin American history is taught in his country “with the phrases of Simón Bolívar,” the historical Venezuelan politician and military leader who played a fundamental role in Ecuadorean independence. The former president added that the Ecuadorean process of independence marked the start of similar struggles in all of South America, something which was “the beginning of active and living solidarity in this subcontinent.” Between today and Friday 193 presentations, distributed among 21 symposia, will be given at Simón Bolívar Andean University, which is sponsoring the conference. The principal symposia will be held at the House of Ecuadorean Culture, where the opening ceremony was held today, with lectures by international historians. There will be presentations on the processes of independence in the United States, all of Latin America, European influence, South Africa, Algeria, Chad, Libya, India, and other nations that became independent over the course of the last century. The event currently has 1,358 registered participants, including 360 experts from 24 different countries. The congress brings together historians, philosophers, researchers, and representatives of academic institutions, in addition to special guests and the general public.