León Febres Cordero
León Febres-Cordero Ribadeneyra (9 March 1931 – 15 December 2008) known in the Ecuadorian media as LFC or more simply by his composed surname (Febres-Cordero), was the 35th President of Ecuador, serving a four-year term from 10 August 1984 to 10 August 1988. During his Presidency he sought to introduce market-oriented reforms, and also led a security crackdown on a guerrilla group, ¡Alfaro Vive, Carajo!.
Febres-Cordero was born to a well-to-do Guayaquil family on 9 March 1931. His father sent him to study in the United States, where he first attended Charlotte Hall Military Academy in Maryland, then Mercersburg Academy in Pennsylvania for high school, and then graduated as an engineer from the Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, New Jersey (which he visited after being elected in 1984).
Upon his return to Guayaquil, Febres-Cordero entered business, dealing variously in paper, electrical parts, chemicals and textiles. Eventually he became an executive in the Noboa Group, a large agribusiness.
The Febres Cordero government promoted a conservative economic policy. While some praised Febres Cordero's economic policies, they became largely unpopular with most Ecuadorians. Several of his ministers were accused of corruption. His Finance Minister (and future Vice President), Alberto Dahik, was impeached by Congress.
Febres Cordero, a close ally of US President Ronald Reagan, was sharply criticized for an increase in human rights violations, including torture and extrajudicial killings. During his presidency, a death squad called the Escuadrón Volante was also created, which committed numerous human rights violations. Decades later, Rafael Correa established a Truth Commission to investigate human rights violations, particularly those that occurred during Febres Cordero's administration.
In 1987 Febres Cordero was kidnapped for 11 hours by members of the air force demanding the freedom of General Frank Vargas Pazzos, who had been imprisoned after leading two uprisings in March 1986, aimed at toppling the Minister of Defense. Congress approved a resolution granting Vargas amnesty, but Febres Cordero refused to publish the resolution, thus denying it the force of law. It was only after his January 1987 kidnapping that he signed the amnesty and released Vargas.
Febres-Cordero later became the mayor of Guayaquil for two terms (1992–2000) His time as mayor is widely considered successful as he lifted the city from years of mismanagement, corruption, and clientelistic practices by the populist Bucaram family (particularly the administrations of Abdalá and his sister Elsa). Febres-Cordero's policies brought order to the government's administration and finances and carried out massive public works, thus cementing a base for his protege, Jaime Nebot (also of the PSC). Nebot turned out to be the main political rival of President Correa (2007-2017), establishing a reputation as an important force in Ecuadorean politics.
In 2002 Febres-Cordero ran successfully for a seat in Congress, representing his native province from 2003-2007. Despite recurrent absenteeism produced by health constraints, he was reelected in 2006, but those same issues forced him to retire shortly before the beginning of the new legislative period (and also of rival Correa’s tenure) in early 2007, symbolically marking the end of his political clout over the country.
Febres-Cordero was first married to former First Lady of Ecuador María Eugenia Cordovez, and they had four daughters – María Eugenia, María Fernanda, María Liliana and María Auxiliadora. They divorced in 1988 after thirty-four years of marriage. Later he married Cruz Maria Massu, but they had no children.
A smoker, Febres-Cordero died aged 77 in Guayaquil, on Monday, 15 December 2008 at 4:30 pm, of lung cancer and emphysema. He was granted a state funeral. His remains were buried at the Cementerio Parque de la Paz.
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