Bucaram Elmhalin, Asaad (1916–1981)

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Bucaram Elmhalin, Asaad (1916–1981)

Asaad Bucaram Elmhalin (b. 24 December 1916; d. 5 November 1981), leader of the populist Concentración de Fuerzas Populares (1962–1981) in Ecuador. Born in Ambato to Lebanese parents and self-taught, Bucaram assumed leadership of the Concentration of Popular Forces (Concentración de Fuerzas Populares—CFP) after the resignation of Carlos Guevara Moreno. Elected mayor of Guayaquil (1962–1963) during a period of economic prosperity, he earned a reputation for personal honesty and administrative ability. He was deposed, jailed, and deported by the military government in 1963, when he attempted to mobilize the CFP to defend the government of Carlos Julio Arosemena Monroy (1963).

After returning to Ecuador, Bucaram headed the CFP delegation to the 1966 constituent assembly and was elected vice president of the assembly. Reelected as mayor of Guayaquil in 1967, he brought his party into the Front of the Democratic Left (Frente de la Izquierda Democrática—FID), which supported the candidacy of Andrés F. Córdova Nieto in the 1968 presidential election. Elected prefect of Guayas Province in 1970, he was subsequently exiled, a second time, by Velasco Ibarra.

Bucaram was the leading candidate for president in 1972, but the military coup of 15 February 1972 prevented his election and exiled him a third time. Prior to the restoration of constitutional government in 1979, the military government disqualified his candidacy. Bucaram then selected Guayaquil lawyer Jaime Roldós Aguilera to run as the candidate of the CFP. Prior to the election of Roldós, however, relations between the two CFP leaders began to deteriorate, and the party subsequently divided into two factions. The conflict was ideological as well as personal. Bucaram was a populist whose power base was primarily regional. Thus, he favored government expenditures that provided patronage for his supporters and coastal public works projects at the expense of fiscal responsibility and projects selected on the basis of national criteria. Bucaram was unsuccessful in his bid to prevent Roldós from taking office but cemented an agreement with the conservatives that allowed him to become president of the Chamber of Deputies, a position he used to obstruct presidential initiatives until his death.

See alsoEcuador, Political Parties: Concentration of Popular Forces (CFP) .


Marco Proaño Maya, Bucaram: Historia de una lucha (1981).

John D. Martz, "Populist Leadership and the Party Caudillo: Ecuador and the CFP, 1962–1981," in Studies in Comparative International Development 18 (1983): 22-49; and Politics and Petroleum in Ecuador (1987), esp. pp. 84-90, 247-269.

Additional Bibliography

Guerrero Burgos, Rafael. Regionalismo y democracia social en los orígenes del "CFP." Quito: CAAP, 1994.

                            Linda Alexander RodrÍguez