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Montufar Canton (Carchi, Ecuador)

Cantón Montufar

Last modified: 2021-08-26 by klaus-michael schneider
Keywords: carchi | montufar |
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image by Jens Pattke and Falko Schmidt, 1 July 2007


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Montúfar canton was established by a Legislative Decree issued on 27 September 1905, upon request of Sociedad Patriótica, an association founded on 27 April 1902 by inhabitants of San Gabriel.

The canton's namesake is Carlos Montúfar y Larrea (1780-1816), a hero of the South American independence. Montúfar was the "third man" of the famous Andine exploration organized by Alexander von Humboldt (1769-1859) and Aimé Bonpland (1773-1858). In June 1802, Montúfar was hired by the German baron to guide the expedition searching the Inca's road. Humboldt had spent the previous six months either in the Quito residence or the Los Chillos estate owned by Montúfar's family. This caused the wrath of another scholar and subsequent hero of the independence, Francisco José de Caldas (1768-1816), who had supported Humboldt's first research in Quito and was replaced by Montúfar for a reason still unknown. Jorge Arias de Greiff believes that the dispute was based on scientific grounds, while Caldas himself insinuated that Montúfar had a love affair with the baron. The expedition marched southwards, climbed mount Chimborazo, then believed to be the Earth's highest peak, on 23 June, and recorded Inca archaeological remains and customs in Latacunga, Ambato, Riobamaba, Cuenca and Loja provinces. On 1 August 1802, they entered Peru, staying
in Lima from October to December 1802. Montúfar's diary, discovered in 1899 by Marcos Jiménez de la Espada and published in Boletin de la Sociedad Geográfica de Madrid, vol. 15, is a less-known complement to Humboldt's official record. Namely, it includes a very detailed description of the Inca fortress of Ingapirca.

Montúfar traveled to Mexico, La Havana, the USA and Europe with Bonpland and Humboldt. In Paris, he probably attended Napoléon I's coronation (1804) and met Simón Bolívar; he moved the next year to Madrid, where he enrolled at the Real Academia de Nobles to obtain a military education. During the War of Spanish Independence, he fought at the battle of Bailén, the siege of Zaragoza and the skirmish of Somosierra, being elevated to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. In 1810, he was sent back to Quito to establish a provincial government loyal to the King of Spain. However, he took the independendist party and joined his family's regiment, commanded by his father, the Marquis de Selva Alegre, President of the Quito Government. Betrayed by the Sánchez de Orellana party, he was captured and jailed in Panamá. He escaped and joined Bolívar's army, taking part to the conquest of Bogotá. Captures again after the battle of Cuchilla del Tambo, near Popayán, he was sentenced to death and shot in Buga on 31 July 1816.

[T. Hampe Martinéz. 2003. Carlos Montúfar y Larrea (1780-1816), el Quiteño compañero de Humboldt. Revista de Indias, 62:226, 711-720]
Ivan Sache, 7 September 2018


The image is based on
Falko Schmidt, 1 July 2007

The flag is composed of two horizontal stripes. The upper, green stripe means the everlasting spring that clothes the Montúfar fields all the year round, where, thanks to the works of the farmers, pastures and plots are covered with emerald velvet. The second, red, stripe, highlights the burning faith and sincere patriotism expressed by the inhabitants in their ideals and cooperation with works of national interest.
Canton website
Ivan Sache, 7 September 2018