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Castro Jijón, Ramón (1915–1984)

Castro Jijón, Ramón (1915–1984)

Ramón Castro Jijón (b. 1915, d. 1984), representative of the navy in the military junta that ruled Ecuador from 11 July 1963 until 1966. Born in Esmeraldas, Castro Jijón received advanced military training in Chile and the United States. He served as a naval attaché in Western Europe. When the military overthrew the government of Carlos Julio Arosemena Monroy, Commander Castro was the only member of the junta from the coast. The movement that overthrew Arosemena's government was the first institutional intrusion of the military into politics since the coup of 23 October 1937.

The junta, which had wide public support during its first year, announced that the armed forces had the responsibility to promote new socioeconomic structures that would provide a foundation for true democracy. After suppressing leftist critics and purging the government of Arosemena supporters, the junta began to implement a program of structural reforms, including agrarian and tax reforms, which quickly alienated important civilian groups. The junta created a personal income tax; rationalized taxation by suppressing hundreds of levies that directly financed public agencies and autonomous institutions; and transferred revenue collection from autonomous agencies to the Central Bank. The latter measure prompted widespread public criticism, against which the junta retaliated by imposing martial law. The Agrarian Reform Law of 11 July 1964, which abolished the huasipungo labor system, and the establishment of maximum limits for the size of landholdings, sought to redress one of the most unequal distributions of land in South America. Although the law was relatively weak and threatened only the most inefficient producers, its passage galvanized sierra elite opposition to the junta.

When the economy began to falter in 1964, government deficits burgeoned. The junta sought to stabilize public finances by increasing import duties, but was forced to back down in the face of widespread public criticism, which culminated in a general strike in Guayaquil. When the junta again sought to increase import duties in early 1966, a second general strike spread throughout the nation and resulted in the resignation of the junta on 29 March 1966.

See alsoArosemena Monroy, Carlos Julio .

BIBLIOGRAPHY

República Del Ecuador, Plan político de la Junta Militar de Gobierno (1963) and La junta militar de gobierno y la opinión pública (1964).

Martin Needler, Anatomy of a Coup d'état: Ecuador 1963 (1964).

John Samuel Fitch, The Military Coup d'état as a Political Process: Ecuador, 1948–1966 (1977), esp. pp. 55-73.

Additional Bibliography

Pyne, Peter. Ecuador's Junta Militar, 1963–1966: A Case Study of Military Reformism. New York: New York University of Ulster, 1990.

                            Linda Alexander RodrÍguez

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