At dusk on Sunday, May 24, 1981, the then journalist Roberto Aspiazu He was at home watching on television the soccer game of the Ecuador and Chile national teams played at the Modelo stadium for the World Cup qualifiers in Spain 82, when he was interrupted by an unusual telephone call. “With a mixture of shock and disbelief, I received the news that the President of the Republic, Jaime Roldos, his wife, Martha Bucaram, and his entourage had died in a plane crash that occurred in Loja early in the afternoon “, he says in the chronicle entitled Time for adjustment in the eighties which is part of his recent book Memories of yesterday.
“As chief information officer of Canal 2 from Guayaquil (after Ecuavisa) I reacted by giving notice to those who I could locate of the Televistazo… The flash The news program was to be presented by Alfonso Espinosa de los Monteros, director and host of the newscast, but he was in Quito, so it was my turn to replace him, ”says the current member of the National Academy of History within that publication, which in various episodes has it as direct observer of the most outstanding events of the past of Ecuadorians. “When I went out live, a lump made my throat thinking about the commotion it would cause in thousands of Ecuadorians … The feeling of mourning and regret spread like wildfire.”
This last book offers 36 narratives, which include some corresponding to the democratic period that began in 1979 to the present time, with a testimonial and anecdotal vision of the author who has closely followed successive governments and their protagonists “.
With Memories of yesterday Roberto Aspiazu closes a trilogy of publications that has taken him five years of work in which his vocation as a journalist has come together with a love for history. The other texts are Chronicles of history (2017) and Facts and characters (2019).
“This latest book offers 36 stories, which include some corresponding to the democratic period that began in 1979 to the present time, with a testimonial and anecdotal vision of the author who has closely followed successive governments and their protagonists. It also reviews military dictatorships, the successive Velasquismos, the Juliana and Liberal revolutions, events of the early republic and others that go back to the colony and the conquest ”, explains the author about this publication that, like the previous two, It can be skipped according to the personal interest of the reader. It has as support 72 photographs or illustrations.
Aspiazu, who is currently president of the Business Committee of Ecuador, adds that with Memories of yesterday this mosaic of episodes that have shaped the history of contemporary Ecuador over five centuries is completed. “The fundamentals are narrated in a pleasant and succinct way, without omitting essential details and with some emphasis on anecdotal elements”, indicates the also author of Jaime Nebot, the way to prosperity (2019), written in four hands with his colleague Gonzalo Ruiz Álvarez.
This style of storytelling seeks to capture an audience of all ages, but especially for young people “in order to motivate them in the need for a greater knowledge of national history, as a cultural factor that generates a spirit of identity as individuals and of society as a whole ”.
What are the characters you most admire and why?
It is always difficult to choose one when there are several, depending on the time. In the early republic it is Rocafuerte, then García Moreno, followed by Alfaro. In the twentieth century, the figure of Velasco is fascinating. Among the most contemporary, although old, I prefer Assad Bucaram, Carlos Julio Arosemena and Raúl Clemente, whom I met and interviewed on repeated occasions. At the beginning of the current democratic period I remain with Jaime Roldós and León Febres-Cordero, the latter the most influential figure in national politics until his death in 2008. I also express my respects for Osvaldo Hurtado for his status as a statesman and his contributions as author to the sociology and historiography of the country.
What anecdote do you want to highlight about your experiences with these characters?
At the international level, I dedicate a note to Fidel Castro regarding the interview I conducted in Havana in 1985, telling the anecdote that I managed to access him when he came to Quito in 1988, for the inauguration ceremony of President Rodrigo Borja , yelling at him, in the middle of his security fence in the Palace of the Revolution, that he had just already had a dialogue with him. He approached interested, and when he identified me, he replied that he had liked the publication of the note in the magazine Glance; then he said with his Caribbean accent: “Ask what you want, boy.”
What other publishing project do you have planned?
I want to write a historical novel about Atahualpa, an iconic figure in Ecuadorian historiography. As has been well said, figures of this caliber need each generation to retell their story in their own words. I plan to travel to the north of Peru – to Piura and Cajamarca – to have more narrative elements, but the COVID-19 pandemic has stopped me. As soon as the conditions exist, I will travel with great curiosity to those destinations.
Book: Available in the main bookstores in Quito and Guayaquil, $ 20. Sponsored by the Directorate of Culture of the Municipality of Guayaquil with the professional support of Editores Paradiso.