More than 21 years after becoming Ecuador’s first female president, Rosalía Arteaga finally has a place in the Carondelet Palace presidential portrait gallery. She has President Lenin Moreno to thank for correcting the omission.
Arteaga, who was born and continues to live in Cuenca, was in office for only seven days, from February 6 to February 11, 1997, after she replaced Abdalá Bucaram who was voted out of office by Ecuador’s Congress. She expected a longer tenure since she was vice president prior to replacing Bucaram but fell victim to Congressional sexism and political intrigue, and was replaced on February 12 by Fabián Alarcón.
One member of Congress publicly announced that it would be a “humiliation” for Ecuador to be led by a woman.
The appointment of Alarcón become known as the “night of the three presidents,” after which Bucaram, Arteaga and Alarcón all claimed they were the legitimate commander-in-chief.
Although President Lucio Gutiérrez recognized Arteaga as a former president in 2004, her portrait was not added to the presidential gallery until this week. “I never pursued the issue since I was pretty disgusted with the entire process after 1998,” she said. “I just wanted to get away from politics.”
She thanked Moreno on Tuesday, pointing out that he was the only one of the last six presidents who considered her place in the presidential palace important. “It was a pleasant surprise and shows the kind of sensitivity that he has,” she said.
Since leaving politics, Arteaga has had a distinguished career leading several non-profit organizations and teaching on university faculties.