This volume is a collection of essays published during the past forty years by Dr. Jaramillo, a former president of the Quito branch of the Casa de la Cultura Ecuatoriana. Perhaps the best section is the one that deals with some of the diplomatic aspects of the Rio de Janeiro Protocol of 1942. But, if the author is rightly indignant at the way in which Ecuador was then sacrificed to satisfy the appetite of Peruvian imperialism—ultimately based on the concept of the Tahuantinsuyo— it is queer that he should battle in favor of the Quichua nationality of pre-Incaic Ecuadorians, so much the more as sixteenth-century sources prove that such was not the case. But, in Dr. Jaramillo’s opinion, “sólo la leyenda responde con exactitud . . . a la verdad del pasado” (p. 248).
The author is convincing in his controversy with some Peruvian writers, such as Luis Valcárcel, about the quiteño birth of Atahualpa. Yet, this would suffice only for proclaiming that Inca as a local hero in Quito. Still, he was the head of the Peruvian empire, which, incidentally, never included all of present-day Ecuador. I do not see, therefore, how he could be regarded as the father of Ecuadorian nationality.
Of course, Dr. Jaramillo invokes in his favor the authority of Father Juan de Velasco. Forty years ago the late Jacinto Jijón y Caamaño convincingly proved that Velasco’s work should not be considered as a reliable source. But Dr. Jaramillo will not accept this dictum, and among others cites “linguistic authorities” that prove that the ancient inhabitants of Ecuador were Assyrians (p. 217), and the Chimus, Chinese (p. 240). He also reproduces the ideas of sixteenth and seventeenthcentury scholastic chroniclers about the Hebrews and Carthaginians in America (pp. 273-274). In the light of all this, it is impossible—on the sole authority of Father Velasco and in the face of serious historical and the latest archaeological knowledge— to accept Dr. Jaramillo’s thesis of a Reino de Quito, including a territory even greater than present day Ecuador, previous to Spanish or even Inca conquest. Anyway, it sounds perfectly absurd nowadays to speak of a “litoral quiteño” (p. 334), or of the “provincia quiteña de Guayaquil” (p. 142).
Dr. Jaramillo has strong Bolívarian prejudices. Thus, referring to the antecedents of the Guayaquil meeting, he writes: “Como se ve, mientras Bolívar y Sucre no tenían otro objetivo durante la campaña de Quito, que asegurar por todos los medios la eficiencia del ejército y acopiar los recursos necesarios para asegurar el triunfo, San Martín y sus hombres de confianza residentes en Guayaquil, sólo se preocupaban de conspirar a la sombra para llegar a cumplir su obsesión: anexar la Provincia de Guayaquil al Perú” (pp. 352-353). This statement is based on two documents. The first one, a letter by San Martín to the Government of Guayaquil, only says: ‘‘el Perú. . . mirará como interés propio la independencia, dignidad y prosperidad de Guayaquil” (p. 350). The second one is a letter written by Bolívar and contains the following: “si en último resultado nos creemos autorizados para emplear la fuerza en contener al Perú en sus límites y en hacer volver a entrar a Guayaquil en los de Colombia, es también mi opinión que debemos emplear esta fuerza lo más prontamente posible” (p. 352). Yet, Guayaquil had never before belonged to Colombia.
In his defense of José de La Mar, Dr. Jaramillo does not even attempt to prove his most important argument, that the aforementioned Gran Mariscal fought at Tarqui for Ecuador’s independence. And finally, in his last essay, on the discovery of the Amazon River, he fails to take into account the study written fifteen years before by his compatriot Raúl Reyes, probably the best treatment of the intricate question, whether or not Orellana was a traitor to Gonzalo Pizarro.
Apparently, there is more legend than history in this book.