The timing and origins of the independence of the Gobernación de Guayaquil have often intrigued scholars. Loyalist during the Quito rebellion between 1809 and 1812, Guayaquil elites, largely merchants and cacao planters, refused to deal with the insurgent Quiteños and, furthermore, helped the colonial authorities crush that insurrection. By 1820, there was a change of mind. In a swift move, they declared the Provincia Libre de Guayaquil independent from Spain.

Fazio Fernández is not so much interested in causes as in the ideology of the emancipation. He correctly concludes that contrary to the Quito movement, which was embedded in traditional political thinking, Guayaquileños were guided by more modern political ideas. He examines, for example, their representative form of government, early liberalizing decrees, and the political thinking of some of their leaders, among them the poet-president José Joaquín de Olmedo and Vicente Rocafuerte, a liberal ideologue of continental renown. Most interesting, Fazio Fernández contrasts Bolívar’s style in deciding the future of the Provincia Libre with that of the ruling junta. It pledged to honor the will of the people, even though some of its members favored annexation to Peru or total independence.

The author demonstrates conceptual clarity. Unfortunately, in an effort to explain the intellectual sources of the Guayaquileño movement, he devotes much of the volume to political theory, discussed in a schematic and oversimplified manner, as he himself acknowledges. Much of that discussion belongs in footnotes. Our purpose for reading the book is to learn about the ideology of the Guayaqui-Ieños, not the philosophes, Thomas Paine, or the Spanish liberals. Many readers may feel frustrated on this account.