Raúl Vallejo, born César Raúl Enrique Vallejo Corral (Manta, June 28, 1959) is an Ecuadorian novelist, short story writer, poet, politician and academic. He has served as the Minister of Education in the administrations of presidents Rodrigo Borja Cevallos, Alfredo Palacio and Rafael Correa, who also named him Minister of Culture and Patrimony. In the realm of literature, he is one of today’s most prolific writers, and has won many national and international awards, such as the Royal Spanish Academy Award (Spain), José Lezama Lima Poetry Prize (Cuba). In 1999 his books Huellas de amor eterno (short stories) won the Aurelio Espinosa Pólit Prize and Acoso Textual (a novel) won his second Joaquín Gallegos Lara Prize.
Raúl Vallejo, an Ecuadorian writer and politician, has made significant contributions to literature and education in his country. Born on June 28, 1959, in Manta, Manabí province, Vallejo has garnered national and international acclaim for his literary works. Additionally, he has held prominent positions in the Ecuadorian government, including Minister of Education and Minister of Culture and Heritage.
Early Life and Education
Raúl Vallejo completed his secondary education at the Salesiano Cristóbal Colón School in Guayaquil, graduating in 1977. He pursued higher studies at the Universidad Católica de Guayaquil, earning a Bachelor’s degree in Literature in 1984. Later, Vallejo received a Master of Arts degree from the University of Maryland in College Park, as a recipient of a Fulbright scholarship.
Vallejo emerged as one of Ecuador’s most prolific contemporary writers, gaining recognition through numerous national and international awards. In 1999, he published the novel “Acoso textual,” which won the Joaquín Gallegos Lara Prize for Best Novel and the National Book Award in 2000. This groundbreaking work explores the search for identity in the digital age and is considered a pioneering novel in Latin American literature for its use of emails as a narrative tool.
During his time as Ecuador’s ambassador to Colombia, Vallejo published the collection of short stories “Pubis equinoccial” (2013). The book received the Joaquín Gallegos Lara Prize for Best Short Story Collection and included the story “Bajo el signo de Isis,” which won the Erotic Short Story Award from Radio Nacional de España in 2010. Vallejo’s other notable works include the novels “Marilyn en el Caribe” (2015) and “El perpetuo exiliado” (2016). “Marilyn en el Caribe,” which won the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana National Short Novel Prize, tells the story of an elderly American gardener living in Havana, whose life intertwines with the discovery of Marilyn Monroe’s lost diary. “El perpetuo exiliado,” winner of the Héctor Rojas Herazo International Novel Prize, explores the life of former Ecuadorian president José María Velasco Ibarra and his relationship with the Argentine poet Corina del Parral. Literary critic Cecilia Ansaldo regards this novel as Vallejo’s magnum opus and places him among indispensable authors.
Vallejo’s poetic talent is also evident in his works such as “Mística del tabernario” (2017), which earned him the José Lezama Lima Poetry Prize awarded by the Casa de las Américas.
A Novel Exploring the Life of José María Velasco Ibarra
“El perpetuo exiliado” [The Perpetual Exile] is a novel by Raúl Vallejo that delves into the life of José María Velasco Ibarra, a five-time president of Ecuador who was overthrown on multiple occasions. The narrative explores Velasco Ibarra’s political career, personal struggles, and the constant betrayals he faced. The novel combines history, politics, and human experiences, portraying Velasco Ibarra as a patriarch without a patriarchal conception. It highlights his relationships with two prominent women, María Ester Silva and Corina, and his grief and loneliness following Corina’s tragic death. Through a collage of narrative techniques, including external narration and internal monologues, Vallejo presents a compelling portrayal of a complex historical figure. “El perpetuo exiliado” is an important contribution to understanding Ecuador’s history and Latin America’s political landscape, offering insights into the life of a man marked by ambition, reflections, and perpetual misfortunes.
Political and Academic Life
In addition to his literary achievements, Raúl Vallejo has been actively involved in Ecuadorian politics and academia. He has served as an editorialist for various topics in newspapers such as El Comercio and Soho, and has contributed to educational issues in the Education supplement and Vistazo magazine.
Vallejo’s political career began in 1991 when he was appointed Minister of Education, Culture, and Sports during the presidency of Rodrigo Borja Cevallos. He represented the Izquierda Democrática party and previously served as the Executive Director of the National Literacy Campaign Mon. Leonidas Proaño. In 2005, under President Alfredo Palacio, Vallejo once again assumed the position of Minister of Education and Culture. During his tenure, he successfully transformed the Ten-Year Education Plan into a state policy, approved by the majority vote in the November 26, 2006, referendum. When President Rafael Correa took office on January 15, 2007, Vallejo was reappointed as Minister of Education in the new regime, and he served in this capacity until April 10, 2010. In December 2010, President Correa appointed him as the Ambassador of Ecuador to Colombia.
Vallejo’s commitment to education extends beyond his political roles. He has been a professor in both public and private schools and at the Universidad Católica de Guayaquil. Moreover, he is a founding professor at the Universidad Andina Simón Bolívar, Ecuador campus. During Correa’s government, Vallejo spearheaded significant projects such as the Intercultural Education Law and the “Ten-Year Education Plan.” He also worked towards evaluating the education system to improve its quality, eliminating fees in public schools, and providing free textbooks, uniforms, and breakfast, leading to the universalization of General Basic Education (grades 1 to 10) in Ecuador. While his efforts have gained widespread public acceptance, they have also faced resistance from political and union groups, particularly the National Union of Teachers (UNE).
In early May 2016, Vallejo was appointed as the Minister of Culture and Heritage of Ecuador by President Rafael Correa.
List of awards and recognitions
- National Short Story Award “Ismael Pérez Pazmiño” (1991) for the book “Fiesta de solitarios”
- Joaquín Gallegos Lara National Award for Best Published Book (1992) for the novel “Fiesta de solitarios”
- Aurelio Espinosa Pólit National Award (1999) for the book “Huellas de amor eterno”
- Joaquín Gallegos Lara National Award (1999) for the novel “Acoso textual”
- First Prize of the VI Cuenca Biennial of Poetry (2006) for the book “Crónicas de un mestizo”
- University Javeriana Short Novel Prize (2014) for the novel “Marilyn en el Caribe”
- Honorable Mention in the VII edition of the Mariano Picón Salas International Essay Prize (2015) for “Bolívar y Manuela. La palabra apasionada de los patriotas amantes”
- Héctor Rojas Herazo International Novel Prize (2015) for the novel “El perpetuo exiliado”
- Real Academia Española Award (2018) for the novel “El perpetuo exiliado”
- José Lezama Lima Poetry Prize (2017) for the book “Mística del tabernario”
- Cuento a cuento cuento, Guayaquil, 1976
- Daguerrotipo, Guayaquil, 1978
- Máscaras para un concierto, Bogotá, 1986
- Solo de palabras, Quito, 1988
- Fiesta de solitarios, Quito, 1992
- Huellas de amor eterno, Quito, 2000
- Pubis equinoccial, Bogotá, 2013
- Acoso textual, Quito, 1999
- El alma en los labios, Quito, 2003
- Marylin en el Caribe, Bogotá, 2015
- El perpetuo exiliado, Bogotá, 2016
- Gabriel(a), Bogotá, 2019
- Cánticos para Oriana, Quito, 2003
- Crónicas de un mestizo, Quito, 2007
- Missa solemnis, Quito, 2008
- Cantos de un feligrés: muestrario de poemas, Quito, 2012
- Mística del tabernario, 2017
- Emelec: cuando la luz es muerte, Quito, 1988
- Una utopía para el siglo XXI: reflexiones sobre una experiencia de gestión educativa (1988-1992), Quito, 1994
- Crónica mestiza del nuevo Pachakutik, Ecuador: del levantamiento indígena de 1990 al ministerio étnico, Maryland, 1996
- Manual de escritura académica: guía para estudiantes y profesores, Quito, 2003
- Lectura y escritura: manías de solitarios, Quito, 2010
Anthologies containing his works
- Manía de contar: antología personal 1976-1988, Quito, 2001
- Vastas soledades breves: cuentos escogidos, Cuenca, 2004
- Memorial de amores: cuentos escogidos, Quito, 2004
- Opera prima y otros corazones, Quito, 2011