• Numéro 10

    Canada-Québec-Caraïbe. Connexions transaméricaines

Juan David García Bacca’s Arrival in Ecuador (1937-1939)



In this article, I examine the context of Spanish Republican philosopher Juan David García Bacca’s arrival in Ecuador, from the first stage of his exile in Paris in 1937 to the first year of his stay in Quito, 1938-1939. In particular, I highlight his commitment to the Second Spanish Republic, which is the reason of his exile. The question I tackle is not why but how did García Bacca leave for Ecuador? Knowing that in the 20th century the politics of exile involve a fourth tier, I answer this question by studying the international organisations being created at the time of his departure for America. Finally, I analyse how Ecuadorian intellectuals perceived him in the national press, in particular by studying the political and academic context of the late 1930s.

Keywords: Juan David García Bacca; Ecuador; Spain-America Relations; Intellectual History; Cultural History; Second Spanish Republic at war and in exile.



Cet article étudie le contexte de l’arrivée en Équateur du philosophe de l’exil républicain espagnol, Juan David García Bacca, depuis la première étape parisienne de son exil, jusqu’à la première année de son séjour à Quito, en 1938-1939. Il insiste sur son engagement envers la cause de la Seconde République Espagnole qui, faut-il le rappeler, est la cause de son exil. La problématique qui se pose alors est moins pourquoi que comment García Bacca prend la route de l’exil. Partant du fait qu’au XXe siècle, les politiques de l’exil impliquent non seulement l’État répresseur, l’exilé et l’État récepteur, mais également un quatrième tiers – les organisations internationales qui, justement, se créent alors –, cet article entend cerner comment les intellectuels équatoriens perçoivent García Bacca, notamment en analysant le contexte universitaire et politique de l’Équateur de la fin des années 1930.

Mots-clé : Juan David García Bacca ; Équateur ; les relations entre l’Espagne et l’Amérique latine ; histoire intellectuelle ; histoire culturelle ; la Seconde République espagnole en guerre et en exil.


Salomé Foehn

CREC/Université Sorbonne-Nouvelle – Paris 3
Maison des Sciences de l’Homme (PREFALC)

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Juan David García Bacca's Arrival in Ecuador (1937-1939)



Introduction. Of Philosophy and Exile. Spain and the Latin American Universities in the 20th century.

         Upon his death, aged 91, the name of Juan David García Bacca remained unknown. In the 1930s, however, he had become famous in the English-speaker world for his works on Symbolic Logic. In the early 1960s, he attended the University of Cambridge to delve into Marxian Economics and most likely exchanged views with Bertrand Russell. Yet, to date, there are no reviews of García Bacca’s work published in the general press; no translation into English of the hundreds of volumes he wrote during his lifetime; no monographic study of his thought, which ranged from Symbolic Logic, Modern Physics and Mathematics, to General and Continental Philosophy to Classical Literature, Poetry and Music. The “Obituary” James Kirkup published in The Independent on 18th August 1992 –two weeks after García Bacca’s death in Quito– stands out as a notable exception. After consulting the Pleiade’s Historia de la Filosofía and the leading French, Spanish and English Encyclopaedias, as well as the Enciclopedia catalana, Kirkup could only express his “astonishment” at the fact that:

Bacca’s death was ignored by the European press […] with the honourable exception of El País, which belatedly devoted a whole page to him, including almost a whole column of the complete bibliography of his works in its issue of 13 August. The headline was: ‘Death of García Bacca, a Great Philosopher Forgotten in Spain. (Kirkup, 1992)

According to Kirkup, this was due, in part, to “effervescence of sports hysteria” overtaking Europe during the Olympic season. But how could such indifference be accounted for in Spain, García Bacca’s homeland? According to Kirkup (1992), all empirical evidence pointed at the deletion of García Bacca’s memory during General Francisco Franco’s dictatorship (1939-1977).

Juan David García Bacca (Pamplona, 1901 - Quito, 1992) was a Spanish Republican philosopher in exile. In 1938, he left Paris for Quito, and swore never to return to Spain as long as General Franco would live (García Bacca, 2000; Foehn, unpublished). After 1977, he made punctual stays in Madrid, Barcelona and Pamplona, in particular, to root his work and intellectual legacy in Spain. In this article, I will recreate the intellectual and socio-political context in which García Bacca found refuge on his arrival in Quito in 1938. The scholarly interest in the connection between Juan David García Bacca and Ecuador is only very recent. There are, to date, two ongoing projects, cited here in chronological order: 1) a long-term academic research project, which I am currently undertaking(1) and 2) in homage to the philosopher, a new issue of Re/incidencias, under the supervision of invitee editor Alberto Ferrer, of the University of Valencia(2).

First, I will make an account of the first stage of García Bacca’s exile, Paris (1937-1938), and insist on his relentless engagement for the Second Spanish Republic. Most historiographers, indeed, tend to overlook his life-long loyalty to the Second Republic, and argue that García Bacca grew apolitical over the years. I will show that, on the contrary, García Bacca would remain loyal to the Second Spanish Republic’s progressivism. In the 1930s in Europe, this meant being an anti-fascist intellectual fighting for a universalist conception of knowledge and for the freedom of science from all dogmas, doctrines and ideologies: in short, against totalitarian “barbarity”. Finally, I will focus on García Bacca’s network, once he assumed his scholarly position at the Universidad Central del Ecuador (Central University of Ecuador–UCE).


I. Of Philosophy and exile: the arrival of García Bacca in Ecuador

          In Confesiones (2000), García Bacca revealed his reason for declining Alonzo Church’s invitation to join Stanford: a chronic lung condition, which he felt would improve in Quito(3). Most scholars are content with such an explanation. In addition, he had become a happily wedded man, and, besides scholarly matters, would dedicate himself to family life. In short: no more politics. Certainly, the fact that García Bacca arrived in Ecuador in 1938 a celibate and left for Mexico a married man is worthy of attention: as a boy, he had been torn from his family and forced to become a Claretian seminarist and, later, a priest –until 1938, when he broke his vows. In contrast, in Quito, he would soon start a family of his own. Why, then, did he not stay in Ecuador? And why did he come back in 1978? Setting aside his health and his personal life, I, as an intellectual historian, will examine multiple factors which have seldom been taken into consideration until now. These are either contextual or structural elements: the impact of Spanish Republican exile on Latin American history, for instance; or, the UCE itself, as a receptor and creator of intellectual trends responding to national necessities.

          A. Paris 1937-1938

I studied the first stage of García Bacca’s exile in a previous article, entitled “‘Filósofo y escritor español. Para un estudio de las relaciones entre Juan David García Bacca y el Ecuador. (De París a Quito, 1938-1942; entre Quito y España, 1971-1992)”. In particular, I demonstrated that 1937 was a philosophical “moment” in the 20th century intellectual history (Foehn, unpublished). In 1937, Paris hosted the Universal Exposition. The 9th Congress of Scientific Philosophy celebrated the tricentenary of Descartes’ Discourse on Method. García Bacca attended the Congress. There, besides Church’s letter, he made one important acquaintance: Thomas Greenwood, a Logician at the University of London, who offered to help him escape. García Bacca accepted: one has to bear in mind that the only alternative Franco offered to exile was death.

For any Spanish Republican exile historian, the obvious choice –the one most of his companions made– would have been for García Bacca to leave for Mexico, where he would eventually resettle in 1942 with his wife. However, this choice he rejected for Ecuador. In 1938, neither one of the two official organisms for evacuating and aiding the Republican refugees had been created, the SERE and the JARE(4). Although in Paris García Bacca did not lack amities and support, it would seem he crossed the Atlantic on his own.

The “specifics” of García Bacca’s siding and defence of the Second Republic remained unknown until recently. Jorge M. Ayala published in 2009 the correspondence with his religious superiors of the Claretian order. Ayala’s animosity towards García Bacca is only too clear and patent: García Bacca is a traitor to his order and even worse things still. Ayala’s interpretation of García Bacca’s decisions distorts reality, misleading the reader to believe, for instance, that the philosopher had assumed an undercover identity under the pseudonym of Ogier Preteceille (Ayala, 2009)(5). I demonstrated that most of García Bacca’s statements in Confesiones can be verified by thorough archival and historical research.

García Bacca’s stay in Paris ended in dramatic circumstances and durably transformed his intellectual and moral constitution (García Bacca, 2000). He renounced his vows as a Catholic priest after exposing the fact that the Church had unofficially endorsed the rebellious General, Francisco Franco –a fact now verified to be a historical truth. García Bacca secretly escaped to America on a boat. Before his departure, on 28th October 1938, García Bacca addressed a letter to his superiors, revealing how he had passed confidential information about the undeclared alliance between the Church and Franco to the Spanish Embassy in Paris. An important sign of the internal maturation –to the point of rupture with– of his beliefs and convictions is the fact that he signed the following letter as Juan David García [Bacca]:

I left Santander on the 14th of August 1936 and went to Barcelona –careful to avoid Franco’s domains– not because I wanted above all things to help those of the Congregation of Barcelona, although, needless to say, I would have done so with all my heart –had it been in my power. It was all chiefly for one reason: my loyalty to the Republic, and also in protest of the military rebellion and Italian-German interference in our matters. As a proof, the very first thing I did on my arrival to Barcelona was to head for the University and to present myself to the Academic authorities. This caused great apprehension amongst all those who witnessed the act, which was a bit rash, and which could have cost me my life.

During the two years of my stay in Paris, I have been in constant communication with the Embassy of Spain and the authorities of the Republic. My passport is Republican; it was delivered to me with largesse and generosity. This gesture profoundly obliges me towards the Republic. I have attended all the official receptions.

I have signed the Spanish intellectuals Manifesto during the tragic circumstances of March; at that time, everything seemed to be going to the dogs. As a Spaniard, I would never abandon my homeland in such circumstances. I have signed, contrary to what your Reverence claims, no Catholic intellectual manifesto at all. I keep my Catholicism to myself and my relationship to God is no stuff for politics of any sort, even the –very respectable– politics of the Republic.

To be useful and in order to offend no one, I made a request before the Republic, this last academic term, to transfer my professorship at the University of Santiago de Compostela to the University of Barcelona. […]

During last year’s International Congress of Philosophy in Paris, I proudly and officially represented the University of Barcelona.

All these antecedents motivate my decision, which is as follows:

First, I cannot and will not go to Franco’s domains.

Second, in order to avoid any trouble for any of you and to be able to find the tranquillity I deserve, and in accord with my political opinions, I will quietly disappear from the communities amongst whom I have, to this day, lived. I shall not stay one moment more amongst the Mission Espagnole de Paris, nor will I go to that of Marseille. (García Bacca apud Ayala, 2005: 282-283)(6)

In the above-cited letter, García Bacca still held on to Catholicism. In Confesiones –written one year before his death– he described the Atlantic crossing as the precise moment in which he “gradually and naturally” lost his faith, much like “the sun dissipating the morning dew”. He compares this state of mind to that of the Renaissance man: “the Renaissance man lost faith without setting out to do so, like the morning dew evaporating in the sun. They are –naturally, spontaneously and unmaliciously– unbelievers”. On arriving to Ecuador in 1938, García Bacca, at the age of 37, had himself become an unbeliever. The Church, however, would not reduce him to his lay state until 1965 (García Bacca, 2000).

          B. García Bacca and the UCE, 1938-1942

In this section, I will focus on the institutional organisation of the Ecuadorian intellectual and academic scene in the late 1930s. My aim is to understand the conditions of García Bacca’s arrival in Ecuador in 1938 and his contribution to the institutionalisation of philosophy. In Confesiones, García Bacca left useful information in first person, which I have used as a starting point by no means definitive. In what follows, the explanations provided are not exhaustive.

During the interwar period, organising the scientific community at an international level was believed to be indispensable for securing long-lasting peace. On occasion of the Paris Universal Exposition in July 1937, the League of Nations founded the International Committee of Intellectual Cooperation. Each signing country would be committing to creating a national Commission. The Ecuadorian Commission for Intellectual Cooperation (ECIC) would be founded in July of the following year. At the time of García Bacca’s arrival, in late November or early December 1938, it would already be functioning. The ECIC was hosted by the UCE. Was the publication of a vacant Professorship in Philosophy at the UCE issued through that same Commission? Did the Embassy of Ecuador transmit it to the Spanish Embassy? I have not yet found any archival evidence validating this hypothesis. There is circumstantial evidence, however, that seems to confirm it. For instance, in Paris, Josep Carner (Chief of Propaganda), José Bergamín (García Bacca’s closest friend, and Cultural attaché at the Embassy) and José Gaos (Rector of the University of Madrid, Exposition Commissioner, philosopher and colleague) played a significant part in connecting García Bacca to the right authorities, diplomatic and academic-wise (Foehn, unpublished). Presumably they would have notified García Bacca of the opportunity arising in Quito, –or, given the dramatic circumstances of the time– the escape route opening and would have directed him towards the Embassy.

In García Bacca’s account of his own departure for America, no official entity took part in his escape. García Bacca refers to two of his peers, whom he held in high intellectual and personal esteem. The first was Thomas Greenwood. Greenwood advocated for García Bacca’s cause in front of an unnamed association, expressly created to help Spanish Republican academics. Greenwood managed to secure for García Bacca an “honorary loan of 14 pounds” and his passage on a ship to America; the second contact was Alonzo Church. According to García Bacca, Church had informed him by writing of the vacant Professorship in Logic at the Central University of Ecuador. With that same letter in hand, García Bacca presented himself to the Ambassador, Arturo Borrero Bustamante. García Bacca does not specify by whom (individual or institution) he knew of the possibilities he had to emigrate, which he enumerates as follows:

Here are the possibilities I had to emigrate to America: first, to Mexico.[…]

Second, to go to the University of Tucumán […].

Third: to the United States. Alonzo Church had just written to me that I could go to Stanford for a two year contract […] In that same letter he also mentioned that in Quito they were looking for a Professor of Logic and of Philosophy of Science for the Faculty of Philosophy, recently funded, and for the Technological Institute. (García Bacca, 2000: 67).

In addition, his superiors were pressing him to return to Madrid, which Franco now controlled. Besides his health, another factor at least made García Bacca opt for Quito: his financial income and economic situation. The Casa de España had just been founded. Mexico had proven itself to be a worthy ally of the Republic –but at the time of his pending departure, García Bacca was unsure he would secure a tenure position: “I could go to Mexico, I would surely find work at the University, the Casa de España, etc.” (García Bacca, 2000: 67). In Stanford he would have signed for a two-year contract. Was the University of Tucumán discarded for the same reason?

The history of Academia in Ecuador is strongly related to national politics. This is particularly clear concerning the UCE. In the following table I have synthesised the main periods and events impacting its modernisation:

Table 1. Politics and Academia in Ecuador in the late 1930s.

 Foehn tab1

The period corresponding to García Bacca’s arrival to Ecuador in 1938, begins in 1925, when the Liberals could no longer maintain their hegemony (Arellano Escobar, 1988; Ossenbach, 1999). As a result, the rise to power to authoritarian and conservative leaders gave a serious blow to the process of modernising the intellectual and academic scene: educational bills allowing for confessional education were passed. In comparison, in Spain, the attempt to modernise education had been overall successful and embodied by the Institución Libre de Enseñanza(7).

From 1895 to 1925, the period known as the Liberal Revolution, the Liberals and the Conservatives were fighting for power. By 1925, the Liberals had achieved the modernisation of the State by imposing Laicism in all aspects of public life. Laicism also reshaped culture as an inclusive national bond between all Ecuadorians, members of the oligarchy as well as those from the more modest sectors of society (Bustos, 2001; Ayala Mora, 2001). In contrast, the Conservatives defended a universal conception of culture based exclusively on the hispanic heritage. All in all, the Liberal reforms, especially in matters of culture and education, had caused great division between the elite and the most humble layers of society. According to Ayala Mora, Laicism was imposed against the Christian bearing of the majority of Ecuadorians, causing deep resentment:

The violence of the Liberal reforms and the unrelenting resistance of the clergy provoked a long-lasting confrontation of enormous proportions, which divided the country for decades and deepened the contradictions of its development as a nation. The religious feeling and the profound loyalty to Catholicism were and are, no doubt, vital elements of Ecuadorian national identity that, far from disappearing, maintained themselves rooted in the largest sectors of the people, who certainly saw in the conflict, not a fight against the politicised clergy but an aggression, sometimes ferocious, against its deepest feelings. The reconciliation between progressivism, the Revolution on one hand and the Christian spirit of the majority of the Ecuadorians on the other, would be a much posterior task. (Ayala Mora, 2001: 242).

At the end of the 1930s, the oligarchy rose to power again after three decades of Liberal hegemony. In the educational and academic field, it sought, at the very least, to limit the autonomy of the Universities, especially the UCE. The conflict between the government and the academics resulted in the student strike of March 1939 (Parraga, 2016). Conversely, the University, had been “overtaken” by the Socialists in the 1920s and would remain so until the 1950s. The UCE had become the “stronghold of socialism” (Terán Najas and Soasti, 2006: 50-53).

I have already pointed out that the ECIC had been created just a few months before García Bacca’s arrival to Ecuador, in July 1938. The UCE superintended the ECIC, which hosted the Ecuadorian-Chilean Cultural Institute (Instituto Ecuatoriano Chileno de Cultura, IECC) and the Ecuadorian-Mexican Cultural Institute (Instituto Ecuatoriano Mexicano de Cultura, IEMC), both created at the same time, between July and September 1938. The IECC was presided by Camilo Ponce; the IEMC, by Pablo Palacio, until 1939. Both were related to García Bacca: the former, by family bonds; the latter, by academic ones, as Palacio was, at the time, Dean of the Faculty of Philosophy and Literature, as well as a member of the Ecuadorian Socialist Party. Certainly, both him and García Bacca shared an admiration for Mexico, which embodied a vision of social justice for all, in which Culture played a crucial part.

In his inaugural speech as the Director of the IEMC, Palacio declared at once his anti-fascism and his socialism:

I must insist that my involvement in this international Cooperation, whose headquarters are based in a Cooperative Commission of Fascist Italy, happens because of the liberty of thought guaranteed by the possibility of establishing intellectual relations with countries with different and diverging ideologies, races and governments; of its full organisational autonomy and of the activity of all Cultural Institutes, as well as the free choice all cooperating partner may make of the Culture coinciding with their own ideological inclination. […]

In America today, Mexico is a laboratory for social justice. It is a country that is politically situated, that has defined the sense of its existence, and that, by doing so, has channelled in one only point all the energies of the country: towards socialism. (Palacio apud CECI, 1938: 1)

Amid the Spanish Republican intellectuals, only José Gaos, ex-Rector of the University of Madrid, is known to have become a member of the PSOE in 1931 (Valerio Pie, 2015). Translated into the cultural scene, another Spanish Republican exile, José Bergamín, would give up his royalties for any troupe to stage his plays. Likewise, García Bacca would, all his life, consider that genuine knowledge emanates from the people and that it should return to the people (García Bacca, 1970). He expressed his views in public later in his life, the 1960s and 1970s. Nevertheless, he had formed his political backbone, so to speak, as early as the 1930s, and through his friendship with scholars from both the University of Barcelona and the University of Madrid; like Palacio, his thought was also steadily and surely heading towards socialism.

Unlike Mexico, Venezuela, Argentina or Chile, and despite the sympathies of most of the intellectuals for the Spanish Republic, Ecuador, given the political landslide, did not become a “hot spot” for Republican exiles at the end of the Spanish Civil War. In fact, the defeat of the Republic coincided with the defeat of the Ecuadorian socialists and the rise to power of an authoritarian and repressive leader, Arroyo del Río in 1940. The economic and political crisis was only aggravated the following year with the outbreak of the war against Peru: Arroyo obtained full powers and persecuted both Liberals and Conservatives.

The following map schematises García Bacca’s network in Paris in 1937, until the first year of his stay in Ecuador, 1938-1939. Due to the chronological limits of the period examined, there are a number of institutional, nominal and topographic omissions, most notably Benjamín Carrión, the founder of the Casa de la Cultura Ecuatoriana in Quito, or Carlos Cueva Tamariz, of the University of Cuenca:

Foehn fig1

Figure 1. Map of Juan David García Bacca’s network, from Paris to Quito (1937-1939).

As I have recalled earlier in this work, James Kirkup, of The Independent, expressed his astonishment at the general indifference of the European press and public opinion to García Bacca’s death. By contrast, the main titles of the Ecuadorian press relayed the news of his decease (1992) and of the centenary of his birth (2001). Besides those stated above, there were other “newsworthy” events in García Bacca’s lifetime: the homage in 1972 in Caracas, which was followed by the National Literature Prize of Venezuela in 1988 and the Gold Medal of the Government of Navarra award, in 1991 –to name but a few. All these are related to García Bacca’s second stay in Ecuador (1971-1992) –that is, between the moment of his retirement from the Central University of Caracas and his passing in Quito.

Edmundo Ribadeneira published a beautiful piece celebrating the philosopher’s memory upon his death. It is one of the rare evocations of Ecuador in the 1930s, precisely at the time of the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War. The solidarity –if not, the brotherly identification– between the intellectuals of his generation with their Spanish Republican consorts, and the great humane quality of García Bacca himself are the main aspects Ribadeneira sheds light on:

My generation passionately rejected the monacal and black Spain, ruled by General Foul Tongue. On the other hand, we deeply loved the other one, the other Spain: Goya’s Spain, Cervantes’ Spain, Jovellanos’ Spain. We wept for Spain when the Republic was overthrown by the Francoist army. García Lorca, Miguel Hernández and Antonio Machado gave us their grief-stricken poetry. Rafael Alberti, still alive today, described the sheer madness of the Alcazar cadets firing, again and again, on the dead body of the guerrillera from the Tage.

And here, in America, Raúl González Tuñón and Pablo Neruda added their love poems to the cause of Spanish freedom, while in Paris, the Peruvian César Vallejo died of a cruel and incurable sickness called Spain. […]

And when, in Quito, weary and exhausted by defeat, did Antonio Jaén Morente and Juan David García Bacca arrive, the scholars of that time, we welcomed them with all our hearts and, at the same time, learnt from them a sense of human solidarity as true and profound as our passion for liberty and justice, erected in the fighting posture we had taken against Nazism and its darkest derivatives.

Other magnificent Spaniards passed through this land of ours, surprised by the bitter plea of exile. Fernando de los Ríos, a man of a wise and truthful word. Luis Jiménez de Azúa, a jurist of consecrated views, a democrat through and through. Juan Negrín, a politician of strong revolutionary composition. And Andrés Segovia, the greatest guitarist in the world. And Nicanor Zabaleta, a great friend and unbeatable maestro of the harp, still alive.

Juan David García Bacca, who returned to Ecuador after many fruitful years in Mexico and Venezuela, just died, and by dying he stirred a good many pleasant and moving memories of the past. It would be impossible for me to delve into the philosophical complexities created by such a huge thinker from Spain, an authentic citizen of two worlds. I have only sought to evoke his presence and his stay in our land, and throw onto his grave a quivering clump of Immortal flowers.

Never have I forgotten his word full of human truths, but, better still than his vast knowledge, I remember his sincere and simple way of being, the return of a Spaniard armed with ideas and vital experiences, set to conquer a brotherly and free world. (Ribadeneira, 1992)(8)

Ribadeneira’s is one of the few pieces that actually name the group of Spanish Republican intellectuals in Ecuador. For the historian, this is the main merit of the article, which also discreetly points out the battered state in which Spanish Republicans arrived to the country, “exhausted by defeat” (Ribadeneira, 1992), specifically naming García Bacca.


          This article is an attempt at recreating García Bacca’s intellectual network. In particular, it insists on the fact that international organisations or diplomatic representations such as the ICIC and its Ecuadorian branch, the ECIC, as well as delegates from the Spanish Embassy in Paris, were likely to have had a hand in making possible García Bacca’s escape to safety in America. Such a study, however, is yet to be led and my work, inconclusive in that respect, has no pretence of exhaustivity, on the contrary. On the other hand, it –at the very least– highlights a moment of transition in what Mario Snzajder and Luis Roniger call The politics of exile:

Exile has changed its structure with the passing of time. In the context of elitist politics, exile developed a three-tiered structure, shaped around the interplay among the expelling state, the exile and the host countries. But in the late 19th century, and moreover in the 20th century, this tiered-structure started developing a fourth tier in the form of an international public sphere with increasing impact modulating the ways in which the other tiers interact. (Snazjder and Roniger, 2009: 5-6)(9).

Because of the limited length of this article, I have not examined García Bacca’s contribution to reshaping the Ecuadorian academic sphere in detail. García Bacca himself is a man of few words concerning this specific aspect. In addition, the administrative archives of UCE are inaccessible. This leaves the researcher to hope that some subjective accounts can point to a verifiable historical reality. A task that appears to be all the more difficult, that Ángel Felicísimo Rojas, also an early acquaintance of García Bacca’s in the late 1930s in Quito, wrote, on occasion of the centenary of his birth:

My country showed poor hospitality towards you. It let its illustrious guest leave, despite his evident willingness to stay: had he not chosen here his life’s companion? When he returned, it gave him some measure of satisfaction: he had been named a Member of the Academy(10). Thus was an exceptional thinker honoured, whose prose was of pristine and magnificent beauty (Rojas, 2001).


(1) I would like to thank the Fundación Juan David García Bacca and especially its Director, Eduardo Pólit Molestina, for letting me access the Quito archives.

(2) Re/incidencias is published by the Centro Cultural Benajmín Carrión, in Quito.

(3) García Bacca only briefly mentions Church’s letter. See Confesiones (2000), p. 67.

(4) The SERE (Servicio de Evacuación de Refugiados Españoles) and the JARE (Junta de Auxilio a los Refugiados Españoles)

(5) Ayala writes: “We include the false interview that García Bacca, under the pseudonym of Ogier Preteceille, fabricated with the conversations he overheard of the Bishop of Calahorra with the Fathers of the Misión Española. They were published in the Republican newspaper, Voz de Madrid (1938-1939), of Paris (3rd september 1938). García Bacca did publish in Voz de Madrid a series of interviews, but not under a pseudonym. Likewise, Ogier Preteceille was a journalist and an agent of the Propaganda section at the Spanish embassy. For a complete study of the Second Republic’s external propaganda during the Spanish Civil War, see García (2009). A consultation of Voz de Madrid can be made at the French National Library, in Paris.

(6) All original quotes in Spanish have been translated by the author of this article.

(7) The ILE trained those who would, in turn, become the masters of García Bacca’s generation of philosophers, particularly of the School of Madrid.

(8) I would like to thank García Bacca’s family for their trust and friendship in letting me consult García Bacca’s personal archive during my stay in Quito (August-December 2016). For full reference, see Bibliography.

(9) Given the limited length of this piece, I have not made a survey of theoretical and methodological aspects fully developed in my previous research. See, particular Foehn, 2011.

(10) Rojas refers to the Ecuadorian Academy of Spanish (Academia Ecuatoriana de la Lengua Española).



Arellano Escobar Eduardo (1988). Pensamiento Universitario Ecuatoriano. Segunda Parte. Biblioteca Básica del pensamiento ecuatoriano, vol 32. Quito: Banco Central del Ecuador/ Corporación editora nacional.

Ayala Jorge M. (2005). J. D. García Bacca. Biografía intelectual (1912-1938). Salamanca: Ediciones Diálogo Filosófico.

Ayala Mora Enrique (2001). “La guerra civil española y los socialistas ecuatorianos”. In María Elena Porras and Pedro Calvo-Sotelo, Ecuador-España. Historia y perspectiva. Estudios. Quito: Embajada de España en el Ecuador/Archivo Histórico del Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores del Ecuador: 184-185.

Bustos Guillermo (2001). “El hispanismo en el Ecuador”. In María Elena Porras and Pedro Calvo-Sotelo, Ecuador-España. Historia y perspectiva. Estudios. Quito: Embajada de España en el Ecuador/Archivo Histórico del Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores del Ecuador: 150-155.

Comisión Ecuatoriana de Cooperación Intelectual (1938). Boletín trimestrial, año 1, Quito: Universidad Central del Ecuador.

Foehn Salomé (2011). Les philosophes de l’exil républicain espagnol de 1939. Autour de José Bergamín, Juan David García Bacca et María Zambrano. Thèse de doctorat, Paris 3/St Andrews. http://hdl.handle.net/10023/2551

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Pour citer cet article

Salomé Foehn, "Juan David García Bacca’s Arrival in Ecuador (1937-1939)", RITA [en ligne], n°10: juilllet 2017, mis en ligne le 10 juillet 2017. Disponible en ligne: http://revue-rita.com/notes-de-recherche10/juan-david-garcia-bacca-s-arrival-in-ecuador-1937-1939.html