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Borja Cevallos, Rodrigo (1935–)

Borja Cevallos, Rodrigo (1935–)

Rodrigo Borja Cevallos (b. 19 June 1935), president of Ecuador (1988–1992). Born in Quito of a family descended from early Spanish settlers, Borja graduated with distinction from the law school of the Universidad Central in 1960. Already a member of the Liberal Party, he soon entered politics and was first elected to Congress in 1962. Borja was later a central figure among the young Liberals who broke with the traditional leadership to found a new political party, the Izquierda Democrática (Democratic Left—ID) in 1977. Borja was elected congressman from the province of Pichincha in 1970. When constitutional rule was suspended by military golpe (1972), he turned to building and developing the ID as Ecuador's first national, mass-based political party.

When military rule came to an end, Borja ran for the presidency in 1978, finishing fourth but establishing himself and his party as a major political contender. Subsequently seated in Congress in honorary office, Borja became a leading spokesman of Ecuador's center Left, and in 1984 he was narrowly defeated in the presidential race. Continuing as the leading opposition congressman, Borja was again the ID candidate in 1988 and won by a comfortable margin. Inaugurated in August 1988, he faced high inflation, economic recession, a huge foreign debt, and declining oil prices. Despite his prestige as a leader of Latin American social democracy, he was forced to adopt basically neoliberal policies, such as cutting subsidies and using free-market practices. Continuing austerity and economic hardship cost his party popular support, and the ID lost its majority in the 1990 congressional elections. Constitutionally prohibited from a second consecutive term as president, Borja continued to grapple with economic pressures as his administration drew to a close. He twice more ran for president, both times unsucessfully. In 1998, he earned 12 percent of the vote and was the third place candidate, while in 2002 the 14 percent that he earned only brought him to fourth place.

See alsoEcuador, Political Parties: Democratic Left (ID) .


Osvaldo Hurtado, Political Power in Ecuador, translated by Nick D. Mills, Jr. (1980).

John D. Martz, Politics and Petroleum in Ecuador (1987).

Additional Bibliography

Bacigualpo, Dalton. Discursos desde el poder. 2nd ed. Quito: Artes Gráficas Señal Impreseñal, 2005.

Gerlach, Allen. Indians, Oil, and Politics: A Recent History of Ecuador. Wilmington, DE: SR Books, 2003.

Striffler, Steve. In the Shadows of State and Capital: The United Fruit Company, Popular Struggle, and Agrarian Restructuring in Ecuador, 1900–1995. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2002.

                                     John D. Martz

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