Dr. Francisco Martínez Aguirre (Baba, Ecuador, January 6, 1850 – February 8th 1917) was an Ecuadorian physician, medical professor, statesman, journalist, publisher, editor, caricaturist, and poet. He received his medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania in the United States in 1871, at the age of 21. During his time in the United States, he also became a Freemason. He held several high-level political positions in Ecuador’s government as well as high-level academic positions in Ecuadorian medical schools throughout his life. He worked as a professor at the Medical School of the Central University of Ecuador from 1878 until 1910. From 1898 and 1907 he served as Dean of the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Guayaquil. On November 7, 1885, he founded the satirical weekly “El Perico,” which called attention to issues of the time through poetry, political cartoons, and humor. The newspaper, whose motto was “Each bird cuts his own quill and proceeds,” quickly became popular, perhaps more so than any other newspaper had before. In 1886, for his role as the publisher/editor of “El Perico,” he was arrested and exiled to Peru. In his later years he became a close collaborator of President Eloy Alfaro. In the two critical years preceding President Eloy Alfaro’s murder (1910 and 1911) he was one of five ministers in Eloy Alfaro’s Cabinet, serving as Minister of Defense. After Eloy Alfaro’s murder, he went into voluntary exile in Chile from 1912-1915.
- Dr. Martinez served as Senator for the province of Los Rios in 1901, 1902, and 1903, and as Minister of the Interior in 1907.
- Dr. Martinez was elected Governor of the Ecuadorian Province of Guayas in 1907 and 1908 (Guayas is home to Ecuador’s port and largest city, Guayaquil).
- Dr. Martinez served as “Minister of Public Instruction” in the Eloy Alfaro administration in 1906, 1907, 1908, and 1909. This was a critical position because the Alfaro government was in the process of secularizing Ecuador’s education system, breaking the church’s stranglehold on education in the country. He was uniquely qualified for this position because he was one of the most educated men in the country and had been the editor of Guayaquil’s most popular newspaper (“El Perico”), which had been instrumental in bringing about significant change in Ecuador.
In 1871, at the age of 21, he received a Medical Degree from the University of Pennsylvania in the U.S.
In 1917, two years after his return to Ecuador from exile in Chile, the 67-year-old Dr. Martinez became ill with an unknown illness and died suddenly. By the time it was diagnosed (blood poisoning), it was too late to save him, and he died within days. He died on February 8, 1917.
- Francisco Xavier Martinez Aguirre