Antonio José Sucre (Credit: COEX / AFP via Getty Images) (CNN Spanish) — The slopes of the Pichincha volcano were, on May 24, 1822, the scene of a key battle led by General Antonio José de Sucre that would seal the independence of what is now Ecuador from Spanish rule. Ecuador’s independence process had begun in 1809 with the so-called Quito Revolution. By 1822, and after several military campaigns and battles that went down in history as the Battle of Panecillo, the government of Quito was still under Spanish command in what was known as the Audiencia de Quito. Guayaquil, meanwhile, had proclaimed its independence in October 1820, and it was this milestone that motivated the start of the campaign to free the entire Audiencia de Quito, as explained in an investigation by the Center for Historical Studies of the Army of Ecuador . Commanding this process was General Antonio José de Sucre, who led the historic battle of Pichincha, which was fought at 3,000 meters above sea level. The Battle of Pichincha Days before the battle, the so-called “patriotic units” that were fighting for independence were organizing themselves and advancing from Guayaquil to the mountains of the Audiencia de Quito. On the night of May 23, the Army—which had some 2,970 men, including coastal people, highlanders, and other natives—advanced through the foothills of Pichincha, commanded by Sucre. Sucre had been appointed by Simón Bolívar at the head of this campaign when he was serving in southern Colombia. “The battle was bloody and fierce, since the royalist forces were aware that their defeat would mean the end of Spanish rule in this part of the continent. Sucre —taking advantage of the advantageous conditions offered by the terrain where they were fighting— organized his forces so that they will arrive successively in waves”, explains the Encyclopedia of Ecuador by Efrén Avilés Pino. On May 25, after the victory, Sucre entered the city of Quito and the Spanish Melchor Aymerich signed his surrender. The territory was then integrated into Gran Colombia, beginning a new stage that would end on May 13, 1830, with the proclamation of the Republic of Ecuador. Panoramic view of the Pichincha volcano. (Credit: Martín Bernetti/AFP/Getty Images) General Antonio José de Sucre, a key figure in the Battle of Pichincha José Antonio de Sucre, born in 1795, began fighting for the independence of the American territory when he was just 15 years old, according to the Encyclopaedia Britannica. He quickly demonstrated his military ability and, by 1820, he had already become a key figure in Simón Bolívar’s team. After gaining independence from Quito, Sucre continued southeast and joined Bolívar, raising an army of some 9,000 men that defeated the Spanish at the Battle of Junín, in what is now Ecuador, in 1824. That same year, in December, he was at the forefront of the battle of Ayacucho that would seal the independence of Peru. Sucre died in 1830, at the age of 35, in what is now the territory of Colombia. Bicentennial of Ecuador This May 24 marks the Bicentennial of Ecuador on the occasion of the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Pichincha. Activities to celebrate this milestone have been going on for months, for example in Quito, which has a full agenda of cultural and artistic events to commemorate the date. On Tuesday, under the slogan “The Bicentennial takes over the city”, activities are carried out in four strategic places in the city, according to the Municipality of Quito. A series of works is also being carried out, for example the restoration of the city’s statue of liberty.
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