Guayaquil, General Strike of 1922

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Guayaquil, General Strike of 1922

The collapse of international prices for Ecuador's monocultural export, cacao beans, led to deteriorating economic conditions. Popular frustration increased as the government proved unable to remedy the situation. Inspired by an earlier successful railroad workers' strike, Guayaquil trolley and power company workers walked out, soon followed by nearly all worker groups in the city. Growing in strength, workers called for aggressive government action to maintain the slipping value of the sucre (Ecuador's national currency). On 15 November 1922, workers and their families held a mass downtown rally. Police and the military opened fire, killing at least three hundred. Eyewitnesses agreed that the attack was unprovoked. For Ecuadorian labor, the victims stand as martyrs to the union movement. Historical interpretations of the general strike vary: standard accounts depict events as another example of anarchist-led protest; recent work sees the uprising as more spontaneous, and not effectively led by any single group.

See alsoLabor Movements .


Ronn F. Pineo, "Reinterpreting Labor Militancy: The Collapse of the Cacao Economy and the General Strike of 1922 in Guayaquil, Ecuador," in Hispanic American Historical Review 68, no. 4 (1988): 707-736. For a concise overview of the evolution of the labor movement, see Richard Lee Milk, "Ecuador," in Latin American Labor Organizations, edited by Gerald Michael Greenfield and Sheldon L. Maram (1987), pp. 289-305. Also worthwhile is Patricio Ycaza, Historia del movimiento obrero ecuatoriano, 2d ed. (1984). For the broader political economic context, see Osvaldo Hurtado, Political Power in Ecuador, translated by Nick D. Mills, Jr. (1985).

Additional Bibliography

Alexander, Robert Jackson, and Eldon M Parker. A History of Organized Labor in Peru and Ecuador. Westport, CT: Praeger, 2007.

Gándara Enríquez, Marcos. La semana trágica de Guayaquil, noviembre de 1922: Aproximación a la verdad. Quito: Sociedad Ecuatoriana de Investigaciones Históricas y Geográficas, 1991.

Pineo, Ronn F. Social and Economic Reform in Ecuador: Life and Work in Guayaquil. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 1996.

                                      Ronn F. Pineo

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Guayaquil, General Strike of 1922

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