Cuero y Caicedo, José de

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Ecuadorean bishop and political leader; b. Cali, 1734; d. Lima, Peru, Oct. 9, 1815. In Quito he received the doctorate in philosophy in 1762; the licentiate, in 1765; and the title of lawyer, on June 20, 1768; he was already a cleric. Because of his illustrious lineage he quickly obtained high ecclesiastical posts in Quito and Popayán. He was dean of Popayán when his appointment as the second bishop of Cuenca was confirmed; he took possession by proxy on Aug. 13, 1799. Before going to this diocese, however, he received notice of his promotion to the See of Quito. He was a founding member of the Patriotic Society of Friends of the Country.

When he was 74, the first call for independence occurred (Aug. 10, 1809), an event that plunged him into bitter uncertainty as to whether he should abandon his flock or remain in the rebellious city. He chose the second course, but the fear of reprisals caused him to make secret protestations of his loyalty to the king. He was appointed vice president of the junta, but new events forced him to withdraw the following September 7. During the assassination of the Grandees (Aug. 2, 1810) he acted with admirable boldness and was a peacemaker and defender of his people against the military. With the arrival of the Royal Commissioner, Montúfar, the situation changed. Shortly afterward a new junta was set up as a symbol of the union of all social elements. On December 11 a congress, with Cuero y Caicedo as president, met and prepared the Pact of Union among the provinces that made up the State of Quito. When the monarchic reaction set in, the bishop renounced the presidency, but he invited the clergy to the defense of the country. He did not hesitate to force the regalistic clergy, through the most severe measures, to support the independence movement. However, when the royalist armies drew near the capital, the bishop fled. He was allowed to return to Quito until the judgment of the king was issued. Then he was transferred to Lima, where Archbishop Las Heras charitably received him.

Bibliography: j. tobar donoso, La iglesia ecuatoriana en el siglo XIX (Quito 1934); La iglesia modeladora de la nacionalidad (Quito 1953). j. m. vargas, Historia de la iglesia en el Ecuador durante el patronato español (Quito 1962). r. vargas ugarte, El episcopado en los tiempos de la emancipación sudamericana (Buenos Aires 1945).

[j. tobar donoso]

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Cuero y Caicedo, José de

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