This little book is a welcome addition to the sparse existing literature in English on the politics of Ecuador. The volume is composed of three parts. The first is a historical review of events leading to the Velasquista revolution of 1944. The second, and the chief contribution of the book, is an analysis of Velasquismo. The third, an appendix added as something of an afterthought, discusses the politics of oil in Ecuador.

Velasquismo illustrates a Latin American proposition, albeit exaggerated, that “every ‘ism’ is a somebodyism.” The “somebody” of Velasquismo was Dr. José María Velasco Ibarra, whose charismatic figure strongly influenced the course of Ecuadorian politics from the revolution of 1944 until shortly before his death in 1979. Cueva quite correctly regards Velasco Ibarra’s influence upon the Ecuadorian scene as disquieting, but also—and more interestingly—finds Velasquismo to be functional. On the one hand, it attracted the masses, especially the urban lower classes, primarily responsible for having swept Velasco Ibarra into the Ecuadorian presidency no fewer than five times. But, on the other, Velasquismo did not threaten the upper classes severely, and Cueva concludes that this “somebodyism” functioned as a species of device for the continuation of the bourgeois order, such as it was, in Ecuador.

Students will find The Process of Political Domination in Ecuador to be a valuable work on the politics of one of the lesser-known countries of Latin America, and Cueva’s thesis is clearly defensible. Not the least of his contributions is his analysis of Velasco Ibarra, who, in his unique and often flamboyant way, was one of the more interesting and colorful Latin American figures of his generation.