The Chulla Romero y Flores (1958 Novel) by Jorge Icaza – An English Translation

by Jorge Icaza (1906-1978)

Translated from Spanish by Richard Gabela

Chapter I

Several times a day Don Ernesto Morejón Galindo, Chief-Director of the Bureau of Economic Investigation, abandoned his small office to monitor the attendance of the employees in his charge. Don Ernesto was a man of uneven temperament. Completely uneven. When he was in a good mood, he would boast about being a Don Juan, indulging in lewd confidences in the manner of a half-bred woman from the vegetable market or a newly arrived Andean cowboy. With the graphic and pornographic gestures of a sex addict, he would whisper in the ear of the person acting as his confidant at the moment: “What a wild night, my dear cholo. Three young ladies were at my service. Two of them turned out to be virgins.… He-he-he… All for free.” But when it came time to publicly rebuke his henchmen (as he inwardly referred to his subordinates) he swelled with omnipotence and meted out threats without concert or order. In such times, when his domineering arrogance exploded, the most grotesque characteristics of his fat face stood out: his flushed cheeks which resembled a pair of rosy buttocks, his lips that trembled like soft clay, the bilious drool dripping between his teeth, the demonic flame burning in his pupils.

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Justino Cornejo

Justino Cornejo Vizcaíno (Puebloviejo, Los Ríos, Ecuador, August 9, 1904 – Guayaquil, July 24, 1988) was a writer, educator, linguist, folklorist and scholar of Ecuadorian culture. He was a socialist and several times jailed at protests or by orders of Ecuadorian presidents. He published many articles in newspapers such as El Mercurio, El Día, Expreso, and El Telégrafo. He belonged to 22 foreign and 12 national institutions. In addition, he received twelve decorations, including that of Commander of the Order of Prince Henry (Ordem do Infante Dom Henrique) conferred by the President of Portugal. Some of his notable books include: “Diccionario del hampa guayaquileña” [Guayaquilean Underworld Dictionary] (1953), “Lengua i folclore” [Language and Folklore] (1963), and “El Quichua en el Castellano del Ecuador” [Quichua in Ecuador’s Spanish] (1967), to name a few. His complete works were published in 1989. Since then, previously unpublished works have been released, such as “Celda carcelaria” [Jail Cell] (2002), in which Cornejo writes about his experiences during his 90-day imprisonment in 1953 on the orders of Ecuadorian President José María Velasco Ibarra, who accused him of attempting to destabilize his government as an editorialist for La Nación newspaper. From 1946 until his retirement in 1968 he was a professor of Spanish and literature at the University of Guayaquil. In 1950, he became a member of Ecuador’s Academy of Language.

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Carlos Carrión

Carlos Alfonso Carrión Figueroa (Malacatos, Loja, January 25, 1944) is an award-winning Ecuadorian novelist and short story writer. His 1982 short story collection, “El más hermoso animal nocturno” [The Most Beautiful Nocturnal Animal] won the José de la Cuadra Award. He also won the Joaquín Gallegos Lara Award twice. First for his short story book “El corazón es un animal en celo” [The Heart is an Animal in Heat] (1995), and again for his novel “¿Quién me ayuda a matar a mi mujer?” [Who’ll Help Me Kill My Wife?] (2005). The latter also won the “Lira y la Pluma” Award. In 2013, his novel “La mantis religiosa” [The Praying Mantis] won the Miguel Riofrío Award. His short stories have also appeared in several anthologies. In 2022, he received the Eugenio Espejo National Prize, Ecuador’s highest literary honor.

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Bertha Cando de Izurieta

Bertha Cando de Izurieta, sometimes Bertha de Izurieta, (Cotopaxi, Ecuador) was an Ecuadorian writer and journalist. She was the founding director of Cotopaxi Province’s first newspaper, El Cotopaxi, which was published from July 24, 1959 until February 22, 1960. In 1962, in the Ecuadorian town of Saquisilí, located in the Cotopaxi Province, she made history by becoming the country’s first female President of a Municipal Council. Her husband, Gustavo Izurieta Obando, was the deputy director and proprietor of a publishing house named “Editorial Minerva,” which published the newspaper, and their son, Gustavo Izurieta, also served as director for a few months. In 1954, their publishing house released her novel “Juventud inmolada” [Immolated Youth].

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Mario Conde

Mario Conde (Ambato, 1972) is an Ecuadorian writer of children’s and youth literature and a university professor of Latin American Literature. In the field of children’s and youth literature, he has published several novels and volumes of short stories with various publishers (including Grupo Editorial Norma, Alfaguara Juvenil, Santillana, Loqueleo, SM el Barco de Vapor and Abracadabra Editores). In 2003, he was given the Alicia Yánez Cosso Prize by the provincial government of the Pichincha province.

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Cristian Cevallos de la Torre

Cristian Cevallos de la Torre is an Ecuadorian writer. In 2022, at twelve-years old, he published a 113-page story, “Peterson Chase y un caos gigante” [Peterson Chase and a Giant Chaos], which he began writing at the age of 7. The book, which is also available in English, is full of magic, fantasy and adventure. It was published by Lux et Gaudium, a publishing company created by his mother Ana de la Torre to release his book. Among those who accompanied him during the book’s launch presentation were former Ecuadorian Vice President and writer Rosalía Arteaga and the award-winning Argentine poet and writer Ernesto Kahan. Cevallos intends to write a sequel to his book.

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Freddy Ayala Plazarte

Freddy Ayala Plazarte (Aláquez, Latacunga, Ecuador, 1983) is an Ecuadorian poet, essayist, and university professor. In 2015, his poetry book “Rebeliones al filo de una sinfonía” won the prestigious Jorge Carrera Andrade National Poetry Prize. His latest poetry book, “Un siglo en el vientre de las vasijas” (2021) was a finalist of the 2nd edition of the Vicente Huidobro International Poetry Award, Valparaíso. He has written several literary studies, including “Vientos paralelos: acotaciones sobre cultura y literatura latinoamericana” (2015) and two studies on poet Hugo Mayo. He was a member of the literary workshops at the House of Ecuadorian Culture during 2005-2007. He was a member of the literary group la.kbzuhela of Quito. He is a professor at the Central University of Ecuador.

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Cristóbal Garcés Larrea

Cristóbal Garcés Larrea (Guayaquil, April 20, 1924 – May 2017) was an Ecuadorian poet, editor, and literary critic. He was the editor-in-chief of Cuadernos del Guayas, the official magazine of the Guayas chapter of the House of Ecuadorian Culture, which was created by Carlos Zevallos Menéndez and whose prior editors-in-chief were Adalberto Ortiz and Francisco Pérez Febres Cordero (albeit for short periods). In 1944, he and Galo René Pérez, Jorge Enrique Adoum and Enrique Noboa Elizaga published the literary magazine Madrugada. In 1970, he released a book series that included stories by then-contemporary writers from certain Latin American countries or regions (which he compiled and edited), including: “Narradores Centroamericanos Contemporáneos,” “Narradores Cubanos Contemporáneos,” “Narradores Colombianos Contemporáneos,” and “Narradores Brasileños Contemporáneos.” He published several of his poems in magazines in Ecuador but a collection of his poems has never been published as a book. He worked for many years as a professor.

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Diego Velasco Andrade

Diego Velasco Andrade (Quito, 1958) is an Ecuadorian poet, fiction writer, editor, professional architect, and university professor. In 1982, he joined Miguel Donoso Pareja’s Literary Workshop at the House of Ecuadorian Culture. He has published a number of poetry collections and fiction books. Since the 1980s, he has been a professor of Semiotics and Design at the Central University of Ecuador. His 2002 novel “¿El poeta ha muerto?” [Is the Poet Dead?] was adapted for the stage by the Ecuadorian group Ojo de Agua and staged in Ecuador, Spain and Belgium. In the 1980’s he was a founding member of a literary group called El Matapiojo. For many years, starting in 2005, he directed the literary workshops of the House of Ecuadorian Culture. His works have appeared in several Ecuadorian literary anthologies.

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Michael H. Handelsman

Michael H. Handelsman (Weehawken, New Jersey, United States, May 11, 1948) is an American university professor, scholar, literary critic, and writer. He is professor emeritus of Latin American literature at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, where he has been teaching since 1976. He has directed the university’s Latin American Studies and Global Studies programs. His principal area of specialization is Ecuadorian literature and culture. Some of his books include: “Amazonas y artistas: Un estudio de la prosa de la mujer Ecuatoriana” (1978), “Lo afro y la plurinacionalidad: el caso ecuatoriano visto desde su literatura” (1999), and “Leyendo la globalización desde la mitad del mundo: identidad y resistencias en el Ecuador” (2005) which received the Isabel Tobar Guarderas award in Quito and the A.B. Thomas award in the U.S. He’s also written extensively on Benjamín Carrión, including: “En torno al verdadero Benjamín Carrión” (1989), “El ideario de Benjamín Carrión” (1992) and “Benjamín Carrión: el pensamiento fundamental” (2007). He’s been a visiting professor at the University of Kentucky, the Catholic University of Santiago de Guayaquil (UCSG), and the Simon Bolivar Andean University of Quito. Since November 12, 2012, he’s been a foreign corresponding member of Ecuador’s National Academy of Language.

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Laura Romo de Crespo

Laura Romo Rivera de Crespo Toral (Baños, March 28, 1916 – Quito, 2011) served as the director of Ecuador’s “Eugenio Espejo” National Library for more than 60 years (until 2008). When she was 28 years old in 1944, the library only had 200 books, but by 2011, it had grown to house 150,000. On August 9, 1944, she co-founded the House of Ecuadorian Culture with Benjamn Carrión. Many artists found inspiration in her, including Jaime Andrade, whose wood carving of her likeness won the National Sculpture Prize. She was also subject of a César Dávila Andrade poem, and also one by her husband Jorge Crespo Toral. Her friends included several of the most prominent names in Ecuadorian literature: Benjamín Carrión, Jorge Carrera Andrade, Jorge Icaza, and Alfredo Pareja, to name a few. Her collaboration has been credited in the works of scholars such as Paulo Carvalho Neto (folklore), Ricardo Descalzi (theatre), and Plutarco Naranjo (Montalvo).

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Soledad Córdova

Soledad Córdova, or Soledad Fernández de Córdova (Quito, December 19, 1957) is an Ecuadorian writer of children’s literature, poet, and a librarian. On October 24, 2008 she was appointed director of the Eugenio Espejo National Library of Ecuador, replacing Laura Romo de Crespo. Córdova belonged to the literary workshops of Abdón Ubidia and Diego Velasco. She was a fellow at the Reference Service of the National Library of Spain, and at the General Directorate of Books, Archives and Libraries of the Ministry of Culture of Spain. Her works have received national and international awards.


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Francisco Delcasty

Francisco Delcasty was a revolutionary Ecuadorian poet and member of the Communist Party of Ecuador. He authored his most famous poem a day after the National Army massacred over a thousand striking workers during the Guayaquil general strike of 1922, which starts with the line “El hambre va en desfile” [Hunger is on the march]. In 1970, the House of Ecuadorian Culture published a collection of his poems entitled, “Alpha y omega: apoesía.” The renowned Guayaquilean poet Sergio Román Armendáriz dedicated a poem to him entitled, “Puerto Rico en el Llanto” in the book “Club 7” (1954). Román was friends with Delcasty during the 1950’s and said in an interview that he believed Delcasty was likely a Spaniard (born with the last name Castillo) who was considered Ecuadorian because of his close ties to Ecuador and its politics.

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Rafael Larrea Insuasti

Rafael Larrea Insuasti (Quito, 1942 – Ibidem, April 22, 1995) was an Ecuadorian poet, journalist, political essayist, editor, songwriter, music composer, and social activist. He is known as a social and revolutionary poet who was a member of the Central Committee of the Marxist-Leninist Communist Party of Ecuador (PCMLE). For over 20 years, he was the editor-in-chief of the Party’s newspaper, En Marcha, and created the PCMLE’s first propaganda manual. In the 1960s, along with other young leftist poets, he founded the Tzántico group. His poetry books include “Levantapolvos” (1969), “Nuestra es la vida” (1978), “Campanas de bronce” (1983), “Bajo el sombrero del poeta” (1988), “Nosotros, la luna, los caballos” (1995), and “La casa de los siete patios” (1996, published posthumously). In addition to political activity, Larrea graduated as a journalist from the School of Information Sciences of the Central University of Ecuador and was a language teacher. His political, cultural, and literary writings were collected in a book entitled, “Escritos polticos” (2007), published by the PCMLE Commission for Art and Culture. He also penned a number of popular songs, such as “Capishca de la Libertad,” “La Negra Clara Inés,” and others. A public basic education school in Duran, Ecuador, bears his name.

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Katerine Ortega

Katerine Ortega (Quito, 1986) is an Ecuadorian poet, short story writer, and audiovisual communicator. Her works include: “Somos fuego” (2012), (a compilation of poems by various poets), “Naranja entera” (micropoems), La promesa” (videopoems), and she also contributed to the books “Ciencia y simbólica andina ecuatorial” and “Loma Grande: Memoria Histórica y Cultural” (section on mythology). Her stories and poetry have appeared in literary magazines such as Sapo (Chile) and Matapalo (Ecuador), as well as the anthology “Amor y soledad” (Spain). She was part of the literary workshops of the Benjamín Carrión House of Ecuadorian Culture, the Ecuadorian Society of Writers, Kafka Escuela de Escritores, among others. In 2020, she released “Tarasca,” her first collection of short stories.

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Modesto Ponce Maldonado

Modesto Ponce Maldonado (Quito, 1938) is an Ecuadorian novelist, short story writer, and businessman. He began writing fiction in his later years. At the age of 60, he published his first collection of short stories, “También las arcillas” (1997), which was followed by a novel, “El palacio del diablo” [The Devil’s Palace] (2005), which won the Joaquín Gallegos Lara Prize for best novel of the year. The novel’s title was taken from the name of a brothel that formerly stood in colonial Quito’s La Ronda neighborhood. Using the pen name Sergio Lozada, his second novel, “La casa del desván,” was shortlisted for the prestigious Premio Iberoamericano Planeta-Casa de América de Narrativa award. The novel, released by Editorial Planeta in 2008, is a first-person account of a schizophrenic man’s thoughts while he is institutionalized for his condition. In 2017, his novel “Adela” received honorable mention at the La Linares Short Novel Award. Ponce has also contributed to various literary magazines, including El Búho, Eskeletra, Kipus and Letras del Ecuador.

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