LUZ DE AMÉ­RI­CA Light of the Ame­ri­cas

Nan Magazine - - PLAZA GRANDE -

A raíz de su vi­si­ta a Qui­to en 1807, el sa­cer­do­te chi­leno Ca­mi­lo Henríquez se­ría el pri­me­ro en re­fe­rir­se a es­ta ciu­dad co­mo ‘la Luz de Amé­ri­ca’. Ter­mi­na­ría, in­clu­so, co­lo­can­do una pla­ca con la fra­se so­bre un fa­ro de su na­ti­va Val­pa­raí­so. Po­de­mos de­cir, en­ton­ces, que el pro­yec­to eman­ci­pa­dor ya exis­tía en la ho­ya del ma­jes­tuo­so Pi­chin­cha, años an­tes del 10 de agos­to de 1809. Re­cor­de­mos que era una ciu­dad per­di­da en­tre las mon­ta­ñas, súb­di­ta de los vi­rrei­na­tos de Li­ma y San­ta Fe, pe­ro aban­do­na­da a su suer­te. Que acá lle­ga­ran las lu­ces de la li­ber­tad an­tes que a lu­ga­res con ori­llas de mar que re­ci­bían las no­ve­da­des de las gran­des re­vo­lu­cio­nes del si­glo XVIII, se­gún el Gral. Pa­co Mon­ca­yo, ex al­cal­de de Qui­to, “era por­que nues­tras so­le­da­des le per­mi­tían a Qui­to so­ñar”.

Fue­ron va­rias las ra­zo­nes por las cua­les los qui­te­ños sin­tie­ron la ne­ce­si­dad de se­pa­rar­se de Es­pa­ña, pe­ro el fa­mo­so Gri­to, el que creó su pro­pia ‘jun­ta so­be­ra­na’ in­de­pen­dien­te, no pu­do sos­te­ner­se por mu­cho tiem­po. La pro­vo­ca­ción hi­zo que, el 2 de agos­to de 1810, las hues­tes vi­rrei­na­les de Li­ma ase­si­na­ran a más de 300 qui­te­ños, sa­quean­do, de pa­so, la ciu­dad y arro­ján­do­le un man­to de pro­fun­da de­s­es­pe­ran­za.

En 1802, el año en que la Co­ro­na, vía Cé­du­la Real, qui­ta­ba ju­ris­dic­ción a Qui­to de cier­tos te­rri­to­rios ama­zó­ni­cos (al­go que, por su­pues­to, cau­só ma­les­tar), lle­gó Ale­xan­der von Hum­boldt. El cien­tí­fi­co pro­gre­si­vo se gran­jea­ría el afec­to de los qui­te­ños, es­pe­cial­men­te de don Car­los Mon­tú­far, a quien lle­va­ría con­si­go en sus ex­pe­di­cio­nes a tra­vés del con­ti­nen­te. Am­bos vol­ve­rían jun­tos, in­clu­so, a Eu­ro­pa, Mon­tú­far par­ti­ci­pan­do en la Gue­rra de la In­de­pen­den­cia Es­pa­ño­la con­tra Na­po­león, y gra­cias a su cam­pa­ña in­ta­cha­ble, se­ría nom­bra­do Co­mi­sio­na­do Re­gio, en­via­do pa­ra apa­ci­guar la in­sur­gen­cia in­de­pen­den­tis­ta qui­te­ña. Lle­gó tar­de. La ma­tan­za del 2 de agos­to ya se ha­bía lle­va­do a ca­bo.

Con in­tre­pi­dez, Mon­tú­far for­mó una nue­va Jun­ta de Go­bierno y lue­go de­cla­ro el te­rri­to­rio co­mo ‘Es­ta­do de Qui­to’, en­ti­dad so­be­ra­na con su pro­pia cons­ti­tu­ción in­de­pen­dien­te. Es­ta mo­ción tu­vo po­ca vi­da y Mon­tú­far, de­rro­ta­do, fue de­por­ta­do a Es­pa­ña. Al es­ca­par en Pa­na­má, lo­gró unir­se al ba­ta­llón de Si­món Bo­lí­var, quien lo nom­bró su Ayu­dan­te Ge­ne­ral, pe­ro un trá­gi­co final lo es­pe­ra­ba, al ser cap­tu­ra­do por los rea­lis­tas y fu­si­la­do en la es­pal­da por trai­dor.

Del Es­ta­do de Qui­to a la Ba­ta­lla del Pi­chin­cha pa­só otra dé­ca­da, cuan­do An­to­nio Jo­sé de Su­cre lle­ga­ba has­ta las pro­pias fal­das del Pi­chin­cha pa­ra he­rir de muer­te a la co­lo­nia e in­gre­sar por la puer­ta gran­de de la ciu­dad. No exis­te clí­max más poé­ti­co pa­ra la li­be­ra­ción de un pue­blo y su mon­ta­ña. El 24 de ma­yo, batallones pa­trio­tas re­pre­sen­ta­dos por sol­da­dos de to­do el mun­do (Pru­sia, In­gla­te­rra, Ita­lia…), rom­pie­ron por fin con las ca­de­nas co­lo­nia­les y vi­nie­ron a so­co­rrer a quie­nes ha­bían ‘pren­di­do el fo­co’ de to­do un con­ti­nen­te.

La pla­ca que al­gu­na vez co­lo­ca­ra sim­bó­li­ca­men­te el sa­cer­do­te Ca­mi­lo Henríquez en el fa­ro de Val­pa­raí­so, con los años, se tras­la­dó a un par­que y lue­go des­apa­re­ció. Una co­mi­sión pre­si­di­da por el pro­pio ge­ne­ral Pa­co Mon­ca­yo via­jó a Chile pa­ra re­ubi­car­la, co­lo­can­do nue­va­men­te, so­bre el pro­pio bus­to de Henríquez a quien tan­ta im­pre­sión cau­sa­ra el arrojo de los qui­te­ños, las his­tó­ri­cas pa­la­bras: “Qui­to, Luz de Amé­ri­ca”. Fo­llo­wing his vi­sit to Qui­to in 1807, Chi­lean priest Ca­mi­lo Henríquez be­ca­me the first per­son to re­fer to Qui­to as the “Light of the Ame­ri­cas”. He would sub­se­quently pla­ce a pla­que with this very ph­ra­se in his na­ti­ve Val­pa­raí­so. Ap­pa­rently, the re­vo­lu­tio­nary pro­ject was al­ready ali­ve in the bo­wels of Mount Pi­chin­cha years be­fo­re Au­gust 10, 1809. We must re­mem­ber that Qui­to was a se­clu­ded city, of­fi­cially go­ver­ned by the vi­ce­roys of Li­ma and San­ta Fe, but abandoned to its own fate. Ac­cor­ding to for­mer Qui­to ma­yor Pa­co Mon­ca­yo, the fact that the ‘light’ of free­dom shi­ned here first and not in pla­ces con­nec­ted by sea to the re­vo­lu­tio­nary world of the la­te eigh­teenth cen­tury, was “simply be­cau­se Qui­to’s so­li­tu­de allo­wed it to dream.”

The­re we­re many rea­sons why Qui­to felt the need to se­pa­ra­te from Spain, but the fa­mous “Cry for In­de­pen­den­ce”, which crea­ted an au­to­no­mous Jun­ta So­be­ra­na de Qui­to (So­ve­reign As­sembly), would not be sus­tai­ned for long. Such was the au­da­city of Qui­to’s Co­lo­nial he­roes, both San­ta Fe and Li­ma sent ‘pa­cif­ying troops’ to quell the re­be­llion. It would be the lat­ter who, on Au­gust 2, 1810, pro­vo­ked one of the most grue­so­me mass mur­ders in the his­tory of Ecua­dor: the Li­me­ños loo­ted the city and ki­lled over 300 peo­ple, th­ro­wing a blan­ket of deep des­pair over the city for years to co­me.

Ale­xan­der von Hum­boldt had arri­ved back in 1802. So­me re­gard him as an ins­ti­ga­tor of the In­de­pen­den­ce mo­ve­ment, in­fu­sing the ideas of the En­ligh­ten­ment in­to the iso­la­ted so­ciety of high­brow Qui­te­ños. Hum­boldt took to the af­fec­tion of his hosts, es­pe­cially of one Car­los Mon­tú­far, whom he en­ded up ta­king along with him on his na­tu­re ex­pe­di­tions across the con­ti­nent. The friends­hip bet­ween them (and the world tour that en­sued) would ta­ke Mon­tú­far to Eu­ro­pe, whe­re he par­ti­ci­pa­ted in the War of Spa­nish In­de­pen­den­ce against Napoleon. He was gi­ven the title of Re­gio­nal Com­mis­sio­ner, sent back to Ecua­dor to ap­pea­se the Qui­te­ños’ 1809 re­volt, in which his own fat­her, Juan Pío Mon­tú­far, par­ti­ci­pa­ted. Un­for­tu­na­tely, he got to Qui­to too la­te, and the car­na­ge of Au­gust 2, 1810, had al­ready ta­ken pla­ce.

Ap­pa­lled by the fate of his na­ti­ve city, he ma­de use of his ro­yal title to form a new go­ver­ning board that la­ter de­cla­red the te­rri­tory as a so­ve­reign ‘Sta­te of Qui­to’, a po­li­ti­cal en­tity with its own in­de­pen­dent cons­ti­tu­tion. The new lea­der and tho­se who joi­ned him we­re, ho­we­ver, out on a limb, and thus de­fea­ted shortly. But, as Mon­tú­far was being de­por­ted to Spain, he dra­ma­ti­cally ma­na­ged to es­ca­pe. He then joi­ned the bat­ta­lions of Si­món Bo­lí­var, who would ap­point him Ad­ju­tant Ge­ne­ral, no less. Mon­tú­far’s tra­gic end would oc­cur shortly af­ter in Bu­ga in mo­dern-day eas­tern Co­lom­bia, whe­re he was shot in the back as a trai­tor to the Crown.

From the Sta­te of Qui­to to the Battle of Pi­chin­cha anot­her de­ca­de would pass. In 1822, Grand Mars­hall An­to­nio Jo­sé de Su­cre fi­nally reached Qui­to’s for­tress – its glo­rious moun­tain – and on its very slo­pes, bro­ke the back of the Spa­nish army. The­re is no poe­tic jus­ti­ce mo­re fit­ting. On May 24th, pa­triot bat­ta­lions, we­re able to shed the light of In­de­pen­den­ce on the city that first lit its pow­der keg so­me 13 years be­fo­re.

The pla­que priest Ca­mi­lo Henríquez pla­ced on the Val­pa­ra­iso lighthouse had long di­sap­pea­red. A com­mis­sion led by Ge­ne­ral Pa­co Mon­ca­yo set out to Chile in 2008, and, on a bust com­me­mo­ra­ting the priest who so ad­mi­red the de­ter­mi­na­tion of Qui­to, re­pla­ced the his­to­ric words: “Qui­to, Light of Ame­ri­ca”.

Newspapers in Spanish

Newspapers from Ecuador

© PressReader. All rights reserved.