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Ecuador, 1956-59


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Ecuador, 1956-1959

(Video from Quito can be seen below.)

At Augusto Pinochet's funeral ceremony at Escuela Militar del Libertador Bernardo O'Higgins in Santiago December 12th 2006 commander in chief of The Chilean Army, general Óscar Izurieta Ferrer, said of Pinochet's years posted in Ecuador:
In 1956 he was, together with other distinguished officers, appointed to serve as a teacher at the military academy in Ecuador, a service that stretched to 1959, during which he participated in the reorganisation of this institution for higher learning.

This fase of his professional and private life, far away from mother country, he reminded in his memoires with a special kind of nostalgia, writing: »Ecuador for me personally meant, besides the birth of two of my children, a periode of intense studies and hard word for almost four years, a time that allowed me to get to know the locals of this dear neighbouring country thoroughly
About the years in the capital of Ecuador, Quito, lawyer, historian and from 1978 to 1979 minister of ecudation in the Pinochet cabinet, Gonzalo Vial (1930-2009) in his biography from 2002 on Pinochet writes about Pinochet's life in Quito, with it's »intense social life«:
When she thought back Doña Lucía was offended by the women of Quito: during the day they were – she later said – all veils and churchgoing; in the evening they flirted impudently with other womens husbonds.

Maybe these memories reflected a bit of jealousy, for major Pinochet was popular with the female sex and his wife only twice travelled to Chile, where she gave birth to Marco Antonio (1958) and Jacqueline María (1959), who was born only 48 hours after her father returned to our country after having concluded the mission in Ecuador.
Vial's version at least is some kind of removal of a lot of shroud around the true story, but: In 2009 the book La Familia – Historia Privada De Los Pinochet written by the two Chilean journalists Claudia Farfán and Fernando Vega was published. In that book the situation when Izurieta Ferrer qoutes the above rendered described this way:
The five children chose not to look at their mother. All kept their eyes on the rostrum from where the army chief made his speech.
[ ...]
It was highly unlikely that the military man's speech had awakened the ghost, that was Lucía Hiriart's memory of the beautiful woman who had almost made Pinochet break his marriage. The secret love that developed in Quito in 1957 had made deep imprints in her life and always turned up when someone mentioned Ecuador.
The rumors of what is here referred to ran for decades in Chile as a widely known secret but not until the publishing of Claudia Farfán and Fernando Vega’s excellent book were the events from those years fully unearthed in a chapter of the book called El Pinochet seductor, »Pinochet The Seductor«, thus for example:
But it did not take long after Pinochet's enrollment at Universidad de Quito in October 1956 before he engaged in more than one relationship to beautiful women from some of the wealthiest families in Ecuador.[3]
On the candid details of these private events later in this chapter.

The official business in Ecuador was that Pinochet as the youngest of five Chilean officers was posted in the capital Quito for almost foure years to lecture at and develop the country's staff officers school, Academia de Guerra del Ecuador, that today is called Academia de Guerra de la Fuerza Terrestre Ecuatoriana. The staff officers school of Ecuador is a very young institution. The decision to establish it was taken as late as the year 1900 and only in the early Twentiety Century was it operation. Therefore the need to have a group of Chilean officers come and give the institution an injection of military schooling and craftmanship with all the prussian tradition and knowledge the Chileans had. By the way a Chilean delegation of officers went to Quito on a similar mission in 1969.[4]

Like on the web site of all South American institutions the home page of Academia de Guerra too has the history of the institution up front. Here they do not hold off from showing gratitude to especially the contribution of Pinochet to the school.
In 1956, for the second time with the valuable consultancy of a delagation from the Chilean military, the school opened its class rooms in the buildings at Instituto Nacional Mejía, and among the chosen educators the presence of professor in military geography, major Augusto Pinochet, ex head of state in The Republic of Chile, is prominent. Thereafter Academia de Guerra is definately strengthened despite the schools nomadic existence all over Quito ...[5]
Earlier in this same historical exposition they do not refrain from mentioning the contribution from Benito Mussolini’s (1883-1945) Italy.

The president in Ecuador in 1956 was José María Velasco Ibarra (1893-1979). It was during his third of five terms as the president of the republic and the only one at that in which he was in office the full term without being ousted by the armed forces. He was at one time behind an attempted military take-over, but failed.

Ecuador and Chile have a common destiny in having historical tensions with regard to Peru lying between the two countries and seperating them by come 2000 kilometers. Chile and Peru (Peru with Bolivia) were at war from 1879 to 1883 in the so called Guerra del Pacífico, War of the Pacific over the Atacama Desert – a war the Chile won. During World War II – in 1941 – Peru and Ecuador were with small poorly equiped forces in an armed conflict over territorial claims at the border. There were mediations but minor engagements occured again in 1981 and 1995 in this dispute over borders. At some point there were investiations into whether Chile illegally had provided arms to Ecuador during the skirmishes in 1995 and whether Pinochet had acted as an arms broker. The investigations were closed. It is believed that some of Pinochet's fortune, that was discovered in the new millennium, was kickbacks from this and other arms deals.[6]

All of the four mentioned countries declared independence from Spanish colonial rule between 1809 and 1821.

Thus there was with this posting of Chilean officers some element of friendship on a diplomatic level between Chile and Ecuador and the two presidents – Chile's was at that time Carlos Ibañez del Campo (1877-1960).[7] This time around Ibañez was democratically elected for the term 1952-1958 as opposed to 1927-1931 when he had assumed power by some form of palace revolution and later ruled by decree.

On April 12th the Pinochet family together with the other officers and families sailed of with the Italian ship Marco Polo. A stopover was made in the Peruvian port of Callao, the port og the nation's capital Lima. There was time to visit Lima during the stay. From there the trip sent go Ecuadorian island Puná, from where the trip went by the ship Rosita go the largest town and most important post, Guayaquil at the mouth of River Guaya. The stopover in Guayaquil lasted for two days and the party stayed at Hotel Metropolitani, about which there some place on the internet is said, that a professor Albert B. Frankling from Harvard University back in the day said:
Hotel Metropolitano de Guayaquil is one of the most clean, comfortable and modern hotels in all the Americas.
Guayaquil is Ecuador's largest city and by 2009 has some 2 million inhabitants. The city is the country's most important one, for example with regard to industry and as the major port. It has a tropical climate, one could say with two seasons, the one more or less warm and humid than the other.

In 1956 almost half a million people lived in town. The entire country has in that time had a relativ population growth as Guayaquil, that is from almost 4 million inhabitants to almost 15 million inhabitants; also almost a quadrubling.

The Chilean officers families flew from Guayaquil to the capital Quito, and now several in the group began to have trouble with uneasiness due the the heights: Quito, the second largest city in the country and the second-highest capital in the world af some 2800 meters above sea level. The city by the way is very close to the Equator, that in Spanish is called Ecuador – hence the name of the country. The climate is due to the high altitude not tropical. The months from June to September are rather dry, while January to May sees some rain. The average temperature in town is about 15 degrees Celcius throughout the year. The city is surrounded by volcanos. Quito is like Pinochet's home town Valparaíso inscribed onto the UN list World Heritage List.

In Quito the families were recieved by the Chilean ambassador, Cobillos, and the entire staff on the embassey. The Pinochet family initially stayed at Hotel Embajador in the street Avenida Colón. This hotel probably is by 2009 the Hotel Ambassador on the corner of Avenida 9 de Octubre and Avenida Colón, built in what one would probably call »hacienda style«.[8]

In his biography Pinochet immediately makes it clear that an important purpose for him going to Ecuador was the saving of money. In advance he had researched the country and the town with regard to costums, mentality etc. and also contitions concerning accommodation. A furnished home cost from 1200 to 1300 US dollars a month to rent, while the unfurnished were as low as 600 US dollars. The Pinochet family after three days of searching found a house on the top of a hill at 400 US dollars a month. »As it will be seen a consicerable cost reduction«, Pinochet comments.[9] The Pinochet family had – to save money – brought their furniture with them, though in to limited extend, and it was freighted by rail from Guayaquil to Quito. The house – which is no more – was on the address Calle Carrión 445. In the book La familia is written, that people in the neighbourhood still remember the kind major greeting them every morning.[10]

The authors of La familia have investigated into the salary of the Chilean officers. By the Ecuadorian state they got 400 dólares, US dollars, or hojas de lechuga, »lettuce leaves«, as Pinochet called them in an interview in 1999.[11] to cover the expences for the journey and to get accommodated in Quito. They got 600 dollars a month, alså from the Ecuadorian state. They were exempted from paying taxes and got medical treatment for free. They still earned their Chilean salary, payed in pesos.[12]

In the book La familia the savings by Pinochet while in Quito are accounted for like this: In connection to investigations into the Pinochet fortune in the years following the millinium, the defense for Pinochet stated that 118.000 dollars were saved during the years in Ecuador and that this money was invested and grew to 458.000 dollars in the now-defunct Riggs Bank with its main office in US capital Washington D.C., which Pinochet han accounts at; a scandal that unfolded in 2004. Nevertheless this explanation is a contradiction to other, earlier statements by Pinochet, that these savings from Ecuador were spend buying a house in the street Laura de Noves in the part of town Las Condes in the North-East corner of Santiago.[13]

In the book La familia several testimonies are rendered that Pinochet really was provident throughout his entire life. In his early days as a soldier he walked long distances on foot instead of going by public transportation. In his days as a dictator he could be seen cruising presidential palace La Moneda and take the lights out for other to save electricity, and he would send staff to buy farmaceuticals at some special farmacy in downtown Santiago that was cheaper.[14]

Pinochet writes that he as a teacher in geography not only had to know the geography of the country but had to be able to transform this knowledge into ecudation. Therefore the band of Chilean officers on set out on a journey across the entire nation.[15]

The first goal was the town Loja about 450 kilometers South of Quito and also more than 2000 meters above sea level in The Andes, Los Andes, and close to the border of northern Peru. The town is distinguished by as early as tie 1890's to have been supplied with electricity from a hydroelectric power station.

From there the trip went about 150 kilometers back North to the third largest city in the country, Cuenca, with almost 500.000 inhabitants. The city is about 2500 meteres above sea level. The city today has eight universities. The oldest, Universidad de Cuenca, was founded in 1867.

Next stop was the port Puerto Bolívar at Golfo de Guayaquil, Gulf of Guayaquil. The town i named after Simón Bolívar (1783-1830), who with José de San Martín (1778-1850) was one of the great liberators in the South American colonies's fight for freedom from Spain. It is one of the largest harbours for the shipping of bananas from South America to Europa. The town was in 1941 in the was between Peru and Ecuarod seized by Peruvian parachute forces. The trip also led to the forrested areas to the East of The Andes, the Amazon rainforrest.

The two girls, Lucía and María Verónica, on the wish of their mother went to the catholic school Sagrados Corazones de La Dolorosa. For 11 year old Augusto Osvaldo Quito was the fourth town in his life, the three previous being Arica, Iquique and Chillán. With his personality it was not very secure circumstances for his childhood.[16]

Lecturing at the officers school started in October 1956. Pinochet's subjects besides geography were geopolitics and intelligence. Pinochet in his autobiography remarks the colonel who headed the school as an opponent of the Chilean presence, in part because they – as opposed to the Brazilian alternative – were not for free. Pinochet mentions two instances of friction with this colonel who was »rather harsh«.[17]

His successor, colonel López, on the other hand, is praised by Pinochet. In Pinochet's view he had a good personality, a great kapacity for work and he managed to create a harmonic climate.[18] From other sources Pinochet's hard-working-ness is noted, as for instance his private secretary from the days in Ecuador has reported that the workdays started at 7 in the morning and often went on for long hours.[19]

While he worked at the officers school Pinochet studied law at Universidad de Quito. But that was only for the first year as it did not fit in with his own lecturing the second year and he had to abandon the endeavour as the professors at the university would not allow, that Pinochet showed up for class a bit to late like in the first year.[20]

There also was a trip to the US in the line of duty. Five days in Washington, D.C., including at visit to the Chilean and Ecuarodian embassadors. Pinochet also got to visit libraries and museums; activities he also was prone to engage in during travels in the 1990's after his time at head of state. There also was a conducted tour in Pentágono – Pentagon. Then two days in Nueva York – New York, where Pinochet had the possibility to to to movie theaters, one of his great passions throughout his life. Two other passion were travels and books. Pinochet tells about how he as a rather unworldly young man drank Coca Cola for the first time, and could not say anything in english but the word »meat« at a restaurant, which however led to meeting the expatriated Chilean chef at the restaurant.

Later the trip in North America brought them to the military facility Fort Bliss in the states New Mexico and Texas. It moreover is at El Paso/Ciudad Juárez, the towns on the Texas and Mexico sides of the border between the two countries. On the difference between the two towns Pinochet writes:
In El Pase cleanness, order and care are valued as oppposed to the filthiness, stench and prostutions in Ciudad Juaréz.[21]
From El Paso the grups went via Dallas to Miami and then back to Ecuador.

On the following times Pinochet writes:
In August [1957] my fourth child was born in Santiago de Chile. We called him Marco Antonio. He was born after many years without any addition to the family, so it was a great joy to us.
Our life in Ecuador proceeded without any remarkable incidents happening
The real events, however, must be regarded as having been rather precisly described in the book La familia, which has been referred to above. They were totally different than what Pinochet represents in the just quoted – it was far from a time »without any remarkable incidents happening«. In the earlier discussed and quoted chapter El Pinochet seductor, »The Seductor Pinochet«, is reported how he had acquaintances with such a rarity as divorced women from the higher classes in Quito, women, who were radically different that his own wife, Lucía, with her conservative and strict, religious mind.

The first was a Mercedes Calisto, a beautiful woman with a strong caracter, nicknamed »Meche«. She had been divorced in 1954. Allegedly she thought right to her death in 2003, that she was the only extra woman in Pinochet's life in Ecuador. Her nickname for him was »Papucho«. The two of them met twice in Quito during the 1990's, in 1992 and 1997, this time at a party i the home of her and her husband, Luis Robles Plaza.[23] Robles Plaza by the way was the mayor in the above mentioned town Guayaquil in the late 1950's and later was minister on differnt posts in governments in Ecuador. In 1987 a case was brought aganist him in connection to torture, summary executions and disappearances.

There also is portrayals of mondays in a villa in town, where the Chileans met with beautiful local women. One of the Chilans tells:
We met on mondays. Everybody arrived at around noon and stayed until after eight in the evening. We had good wine, we listened to music and danced a lot. One of the most enthusiastic was Pinochet.[24]
Another woman he met there was of a family that had it's wealth from the distribution of Caterpillar construction equipment in Ecuador. It was the beautiful and extrovert woman named Leonor Rosales.[25]

The really big affair whoever was with at beautiful pianist of Libanese heritage and green eyes, Piedea Noé. She was the divorced mother of two sons. Their affair was initiated in mid 1957 and it was a mutual attraction at first sight, that turned into an intense affair. Doña Lucía therefore went back to Chile and gave birth to Marco Antonio there. Few weeks later, in August 1957, she went back to Quito to save her marriage. In January og 1959 she had to go back to Chile with her children again, because the affair – contrary to Pinochet's promises – continued. Here she gave birth to the couple's fifth and last child, Jacqueline, and lived with her parents. Officially the explanation was that the climate and the heights in Quito did not suit her, and that she would rather give birth with Chilean doctors, and that it suited the children badly that school started and ended at other times a year in Ecuador.[26]

Because of what Pinochet had shown in Ecuador, Lucía Hiriart saw to it ever after, to keep attractive women away from her husbond so for instance staff, batmen and the likes were male if at all possible.[27]

By the way there was some later contact between Piedad Noé and Pinochet, for instance a meeting in Juni of 1983 while she was travelling in Chile, but also as late as close to her death in USA in the early 1990's, where she lived married to a US diplomat.[28]

Pinochet stayed in Ecuador and completed his task. He finally decided to return to his wife. In part he missed his children, in part he chose the safe road with regard to his military career. The culture and the expectations with regard to officers in the Chilan army were that they were married and stayed married to the same woman. The culture is also described by Chilan author Isabel Allende in the novel Of Love and ShadowsDe amor y de sombra – about the engagement between the officer Gustavo Morante and Irene Beltrán:
He had a deep desire to be able to offer Irene her own home, modern furniture, domestic appliances, a car and a steady income. It was to no avail, however, as she showed no interest in that sort of things, but on the contrary proposed that they in stead of marrying should live together for some time to see, if the the sum of their similarities was larger than that of their differences. He had no intention to experiment, that could harm his career. Also, in the armed forces at a certain age, a bachelor was looked on with suspicion. [29]
Throughout the course of events surrounding Pinochets infidelity Pinochet's mother, doña Avelina, supported her son and was his confidential. the relationship between her and her son's wife was strained.[30]

The case of the affair with Piedad and of the parents's separation is confirmed by Pinochet's son Augusto Osvaldo in inteerviews in news papers.[31] For the three eldest of the children, those who had experienced this time, it was a great tabu the whole life through.

What on the other hand has never been confirmed, are rumors of an offspring as a result of one of Pinochet's affairs, an illegitimate son in Quito. Several investigations have been made into the rumor, one of them being Sergio Hiriart, Pinochet's brother in law, during his three years at the embassy in Quito in the 1970's. No result ever was made.[32]

Even the Cuban intelligence agency investigated into the case in the 1980's hoping to be able to destabilize Pinochet and his right wing military regime if such a delicate scandal could be disclosed. They too didn't find anything.

In June of 2009, however, an article was printed in the Quito based news paper El Comercio, in which a famous doctor in town, Fabián Guarderas, told detailed about his year long friendship with Pinochet's alleged son, »Juan«, who allegedly wished for a DNA test to be performed in order for him to settle his paternal lineage.[33]

According to plan the posting in Ecuador ended in early October 1959 and a couple of weekd ladet Pinochet initiated his service in the First Division of The Army up North in Chile, where he served a number of times. This time around it was in the town Antofagasta, where he after some time found housing. In November the family followed suit. Lucía Hiriart was born and raised in town and had childhood friends there. The children went to a school there with boys and girls mixed, Colegio de la Congregación Oblata.

After some time, in 1960, Pinochet was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel.[34]

[1]Vial, Gonzalo, Pinochet. La Biografía. 2002, p. 95

[2] Farfán, Claudia og Vega, Farnando, La Familia – Historia Privada De Los Pinochet, 2009, p. 147

[3] Farfán, Claudia og Vega, Farnando, La Familia – Historia Privada De Los Pinochet, 2009, p. 197

[4] Vial, Gonzalo, Pinochet. La Biografía. 2002, p. 94

[5] Academia de Guerra del Ejército Ecuatoriano, Quito – Ecuador,

[6] Farfán, Claudia og Vega, Farnando, La Familia – Historia Privada De Los Pinochet, 2009, p. 121

[7] Farfán, Claudia og Vega, Farnando, La Familia – Historia Privada De Los Pinochet, 2009, p. 188


[9] Pinochet, Augusto, El Camino Recorrido, t 1, p. 156

[10] Farfán, Claudia og Vega, Farnando, La Familia – Historia Privada De Los Pinochet, 2009, p. 189

[11] Farfán, Claudia og Vega, Farnando, La Familia – Historia Privada De Los Pinochet, 2009, p. 120-121

[12] Farfán, Claudia og Vega, Farnando, La Familia – Historia Privada De Los Pinochet, 2009, p. 121

[13] Farfán, Claudia og Vega, Farnando, La Familia – Historia Privada De Los Pinochet, 2009, p. 120-121

[14] Farfán, Claudia og Vega, Farnando, La Familia – Historia Privada De Los Pinochet, 2009, p. 114-115

[15] Pinochet, Augusto, El Camino Recorrido, t 1, p. 156

[16] Farfán, Claudia og Vega, Farnando, La Familia – Historia Privada De Los Pinochet, 2009, p. 68

[17] Pinochet, Augusto, El Camino Recorrido, t 1, p. 156

[18] Pinochet, Augusto, El Camino Recorrido, t 1, p. 157

[19] Farfán, Claudia og Vega, Farnando, La Familia – Historia Privada De Los Pinochet, 2009, p. 195

[20] Farfán, Claudia og Vega, Farnando, La Familia – Historia Privada De Los Pinochet, 2009, p. 196

[21] Pinochet, Augusto, El Camino Recorrido, t 1, p. 159

[22] Pinochet, Augusto, El Camino Recorrido, t 1, p. 159

[23] Farfán, Claudia og Vega, Farnando, La Familia – Historia Privada De Los Pinochet, 2009, p. 197-199

[24] Farfán, Claudia og Vega, Farnando, La Familia – Historia Privada De Los Pinochet, 2009, p. 199

[25] Farfán, Claudia og Vega, Farnando, La Familia – Historia Privada De Los Pinochet, 2009, p. 200

[26] Farfán, Claudia og Vega, Farnando, La Familia – Historia Privada De Los Pinochet, 2009, p. 41-44 og 202-206

[27] Farfán, Claudia og Vega, Farnando, La Familia – Historia Privada De Los Pinochet, 2009, p. 95

[28] Farfán, Claudia og Vega, Farnando, La Familia – Historia Privada De Los Pinochet, 2009, p. 11-12 og 193 og 206

[29] Allende, Isabel, Kærlighed og mørke, 1997, p. 91

[30] Farfán, Claudia og Vega, Farnando, La Familia – Historia Privada De Los Pinochet, 2009, p. 12 og 23 og 126

[31] El hijo de Pinochet revela mas detalles,, 6/7 2009

[32] El hijo de Pinochet revela más detalles,, 6/7 2009

[33] El hijo quiteño de Pinochet quiere un ADN,, 28/6 2009

[34] Pinochet, Augusto, El Camino Recorrido, t 1, p. 161



This video published on Youtube is an official video from the official tourist office in Quito in promotion of the town: