Honorato Vázquez Ochoa (Cuenca, October 21, 1855 – January 26, 1933) was an Ecuadorian diplomat, lawyer, educator, painter, grammarian, writer, and poet considered one of the most prominent figures of Cuencan lyricism in the 19th century. Vázquez’s literary works spanned different genres, including poetry, essays, and historical accounts. Notable among his works is the poetry book “Los sábados de mayo,” co-written with Miguel Moreno, which exemplified the tendencies of national romanticism in Ecuador. Vázquez’s poems, such as “Morenica del Rosario,” demonstrated his sentimentality and mastery of language, including the use of archaic Spanish. Furthermore, his contributions to the field of linguistics were notable, with regular essays on the Spanish language, Quechua, neologisms, and other language-related topics. In 1886, at the age of 31, he delivered his induction speech to the Ecuadorian Academy of Language, making him one of the youngest members to ever join.
Honorato Vázquez Ochoa’s sensitivity shone through his beautiful poems and short stories. One of his notable contributions was the book “Los sábados de mayo,” co-written with Miguel Moreno. This collection revealed two distinct tendencies within Ecuadorian romanticism: Vásquez’s deeply sentimental and refined approach, which occasionally employed archaic Spanish, and Moreno’s attachment to local customs, regional imagery, and raw emotional expression.
In 1885, Vázquez released his poetic book titled “En el Destierro,” spanning 156 pages. This book delves into the theme of exile, reflecting Vásquez’s personal experiences and emotions during his time away from his homeland. The second edition of the book, published in 1933 under the title “Ecos del destierro,” featured excerpts from his travel book. It also served as the inspiration for the subsequent publication titled “Libro de Tobias. Memorial de mi destierro.” Edited by Vásquez’s nephew, José Rafael Burbano Vásquez, this posthumous work was released in 1935 and spanned 325 pages.
Honorato Vázquez Ochoa’s diplomatic career was marked by his unwavering commitment to defending the rights and interests of Ecuador on the international stage. He possessed a profound cultural sensibility and broad-mindedness, coupled with a deep love for the arts, literature, and his religious convictions.
In 1883, after a decade of exile, Vázquez Ochoa returned to Ecuador and embarked on an active political life. He was appointed as Secretary of the Interior and Foreign Affairs and played a pivotal role in the codification of the Law of Public Instruction.
As a member of the National Assembly in 1884, he served as secretary and later assumed the position of Undersecretary of the Interior and Foreign Affairs. During this time, he engaged in diplomatic missions, representing Ecuador’s interests abroad. In 1890, President Antonio Flores appointed Vázquez Ochoa as Secretary of the Ecuadorian Legation for the boundary settlement with Colombia, thus initiating his diplomatic career. Also in 1890, he was appointed Minister Plenipotentiary to Peru, tasked with resolving the longstanding territorial disputes between Ecuador and its neighboring countries.
Vázquez Ochoa’s diplomatic efforts faced significant challenges, particularly with regards to the territorial disputes with Peru. Despite his attempts to negotiate and seek resolutions, the treaties and agreements he worked on were not ratified by the Peruvian Congress, leading to heightened tensions and a potential military conflict. However, through skilled diplomacy and international mediation, war was averted.
In 1910, he was again entrusted with the mission to resolve the border issues between Ecuador and Peru. This time, he traveled to Madrid as a Special Envoy to negotiate with the Spanish government, which was acting as an arbiter in the dispute. His extensive knowledge of the subject matter, as reflected in his numerous writings on the territorial conflicts, played a crucial role in presenting Ecuador’s case.
His diplomatic efforts included conferences, negotiations, and the publication of extensive legal and historical documents, such as “Memoria histórica jurídica sobre los límites ecuatorianos-peruanos.”
Despite the ultimate failure to reach a definitive resolution, Vázquez Ochoa’s dedication and diplomatic skills were widely recognized. He was regarded as a respected figure in international circles, known for his erudition and command of language. His work in defending Ecuador’s territorial integrity earned him admiration and respect both within the country and abroad.
Amidst his active public life, Vázquez faced personal tragedies. The loss of his two children, Emmanuel Honorato and María, deeply affected him and cast a shadow over his later years. Despite these hardships, he continued to write and contribute to literary and academic circles.
In his later years, Vázquez lived a more secluded life, devoting himself to writing, painting, and prayer. He continued to produce works of religious and historical significance. His writing style was characterized by impeccable language, logical reasoning, and a sincere connection to his subjects.
In the twilight of his life, Honorato Vázquez Ochoa battled with ailing health, plagued by cardiac insufficiency that impeded his breathing. It was in his beloved hometown of Cuenca that he took his final breath, passing away on January 26, 1933, at the age of seventy-seven. His departure marked the end of an era, leaving behind a profound void in the literary and diplomatic spheres of Ecuador. Nevertheless, his words, ideas, and contributions continue to resonate, ensuring that his memory lives on as a cherished figure in the annals of Ecuadorian history.
Honorato Vázquez Ochoa’s memory lives on through monuments and schools that bear his name in Ecuador, immortalizing his impact on Ecuadorian history.
In recognition of his exceptional achievements in diplomacy and politics, the National Order of Honorato Vázquez was instituted in Ecuador in 1985. This prestigious order, comprising the grades of Grand Cross, Commander, and Knight, honors individuals who have made outstanding contributions to diplomacy and politics.
- Los sábados de mayo (1877)
- En el Destierro (1885)
- Ecos del destierro (1933)
- Libro de Tobias. Memorial de mi destierro (1935)
- Elena (1872)
- Constancia Filial
Essays and Other Works
- Arte y Moral (1889)
- El Epílogo peruano (1907)
- Itinerario del litigio de Límites entre el Ecuador y Perú, con un Apéndice (1908)
- Memorándum final del Perú. Contra memorándum de Honorato Vázquez (1909)
- Litigio de límites entre el Ecuador y el Perú, conteniendo las notas, dictámenes, enmiendas, etc. (1910)
- La Misión diplomática de Honorato Vázquez en Madrid para el litigio de límites entre el Ecuador y el Perú. Juicio de la prensa (1910)
- Cristo Rey (1933)