Antonio Borrero Y Cortázar: Biography

Antonio María Vicente Narciso Borrero y Cortázar (1827-1911) was an Ecuadorian politician, jurist, and journalist, who held the Presidency of the Republic of Ecuador from December 9, 1875 to December 18, 1876.

Despite coming from a family with good social, economic and cultural position, he was interested in popular causes and in collective progress. His professional ethics led him to explore the field of jurisprudence along with journalism, which were his great professional passions.

By UnknownUnknown author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Journalism handled it with a direct and critical style towards old values, showing a more liberal vision and connected with the needs of the people. He participated in and founded several newspapers both in Cuenca and Quito.

Given his popular connection, in 1875 he was elected President of the Republic until his violent overthrow in 1876. He held other important political positions in his country, until he retired from public life.

Article index

  • one


    • 1.1

      His passion for journalism

    • 1.2

      Term as president

    • 1.3

      Last years

  • two

    Published literary works

  • 3



Antonio Borrero was born on October 29, 1827, in the city of Cuenca, Azuay province (Ecuador). His father always devoted himself to politics. His mother descended from a Colombian family possessing great economic, political and social influence.

From his childhood, he was closely linked to the ruling class and the exercise of political and religious power, prevalent at the time. Several of his ancestors held ranks of importance and power in many institutions.

He studied from an early age, achieving the degree of Doctor of Public Law at the University of Quito at the age of 21. He married Rosa Lucía Moscoso Cárdenas in January 1854, with whom he had 6 children.

His passion for journalism

Borrero was an enthusiastic social communicator who remained related to different newspapers for many years. In 1849 he wrote for the newspaper “El Cuencano”, where he met and had a long friendship with its director Fray Vicente Solano.

He wrote for “El Constitucional”. Likewise, he founded the newspapers “La República” in 1856 and the newspaper “El Centinela” in 1862. Both were closed for political reasons by the National Government.

From those tribunes, Borrero was a tireless defender of democratic values ​​and equality, with a firm position against authoritarianism and dictatorship.

A staunch opponent of President García Moreno, he used his discursive ability to transmit his fresh and progressive ideas to the popular masses, against the power and hegemony exercised by the President and his environment.

The popularity acquired through journalism, the sincerity of his ideas, together with his unbreakable ethical principles, laid the foundations for his future nomination and election as President of the Republic.

Finally, he directed the page “Porvenir”, an organ of cultural diffusion, belonging to the church of Quito.

Term as president

In 1863 he was elected vice president, a position he resigned, since the President-elect García Moreno at that time was his political enemy and was contrary to his progressive and liberal ideas.

He resigned as vice president, arguing that official policy would go against his principles and values, so he preferred not to get involved with a government management that he did not share. 

In 1875 new elections were held, where he was elected by a wide advantage. He began his mandate on December 9, 1875. During his short term in office, he promoted the creation of a new National Constitution, through the election of a Constituent Assembly that he was never able to specify.

Its objective has always been the progress and development of social and individual rights. In this sense, he directed the presidency with the intention of strengthening voting rights, freedom of expression and education.

In particular, it achieved important changes in the educational sector, with the creation of many rural schools. He also created institutes for the education of women, which until now were prohibited.

It also promoted communication, with the enactment of laws related to freedom of the press or expression, as well as free suffrage.

Due to the profound changes of a constitutional nature that he was carrying out, he was the victim of a plot by General Veintimilla, who carried out a coup d’état. He was deposed from power as President on December 18, 1876.

Last years

After his overthrow, he was sent to prison for several months and then spent 7 years in exile in Peru, where he continued his fight for freedom of expression and social freedom. He continued to advocate for the establishment of the Republic with free elections in his native Ecuador.

In 1883 he returned to Ecuador, with mixed feelings, since his son Manuel María Borrero had died in the fight for freedom, in the city of Quito, shortly before the fall of the Veintimilla dictatorship.

He was Governor of the province of Azuay, from 1888 to 1892. He also held important positions in the Superior Court of Justice and was a corresponding member of the Spanish Academy of the Language, after which he retired from public life.

He died on October 9, 1911 in the city of Quito. Paradoxically, he died in poverty, having invested all the family fortune in his exile and personal expenses.

Published literary works

Antonio Borrero left an extensive list of writings, texts and opinions, throughout his long journalistic career.

He wrote 2 books, in particular:

  1. Refutation of the book by Reverend Father A. Berthe entitled: García Moreno, President of Ecuador, avenger and martyr of Christian law . Editorial: House of Ecuadorian Culture. Azuay core. 1889.
  2. Biography of Father Vicente Solano in: Obras de Fray Vicente Solano .
However, there are several works written by other authors, who dedicate fragments to their political life, their contributions to freedom of expression and the exercise of journalism.


  1. Dr. Antonio Borrero in transparency: second series. (1879). Editorial Quito. Ecuador. Juan Sanz Printing House.
  2. Borrero Veintimilla, A. (1999). Philosophy, politics and thought of President Antonio Borrero y Cortázar: 1875-1876: aspects of the politics of Ecuador in the 19th century. Editorial Cuenca. University of Azuay.
  3. Marchán F. (1909). August 10; independence, its heroes and martyrs: the eminent publicist Dr. Antonio Borrero Cortázar.
  4. Hurtado, O. (1895) On Ecuatorian politics.
  5. Borrero, A. (1893). Biography of Father Solano. Typography “The golden ant”. Barcelona. Available online: New York Public Library.
  6. MacDonald Spindler F. (1987). Nineteenth Century Ecuador: An Historical Introduction. George Mason University.
  7. Schodt, D. (1987). Ecuador: An Andean Enigma. Westview Press.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button