Although Diez de Agosto is officially the independence day for Quito, it is unofficially considered Ecuador’s national independence day.
When independence was declared in 1809, Quito was the administrative center, or Royal Audience, of a broad region that included all of modern day Ecuador. The declaration initiated a bloody 12-year struggle by Spanish subjects, most of them aristocrats, against the Spanish crown that came to a successful conclusion on May 24, 1822, at the Battle of Pichincha outside of Quito.
The final stage of Ecuador’s independence struggle was led by of Colonel Luis Urdaneta who had fought for the liberation of Guayaquil. His force, called the Junta de Guayaquil or Division Protectora de Quito, advanced into the highlands liberating Cuenca, Riobamba, Ambato and Latacunga on his way to Quito.
Although Urdaneta was defeated by the Crown before he could take Quito, the movement maintained momentum on the coast where independence fighters received reinforcements.
The hero of Pichincha was a young Cuencano, Abdón Calderón, who, despite sustaining four bullet wounds, continued to carry the Independence flag and encouraged his fellow rebels in the fight against the Spanish. Calderón survived for 14 days after the battle before dying in on June 7, 1822, knowing that Ecuador had achieved Independence.
Parque Calderón in Cuenca is named in the hero’s honor as was Ecuador’s highest military honor, the Order of Abdón Calderón.