Saturday, July 10, 2010

The National Anthem of Ecuador

"¡Salve, Oh Patria!" ("We Salute You, Our Homeland") is the national anthem of Ecuador. The lyrics were written in 1865 by the poet Juan León Mera, under request of the Ecuadorian Senate; the music was composed by Antonio Neumane. However, the anthem was not officially adopted by the Congress until September 29, 1948. The anthem consists of a chorus and six verses, of which only the second verse and the chorus (before and after the verse) are sung.

Juan León Mera Martínez (June 28, 1832, Ambato—December 13, 1894) was an Ecuadorian poet, novelist, journalist, critic, politician and satirist.

Mera is known as the father of Ecuadorian literature, principally for being the author of Cumandá (1879). This is a novel about the clandestine love affair between a young woman from an Amazonian tribe, and the son of a Spanish Dominican friar. Their relationship is doubly doomed: not only because it is opposed by the girl's father, but also because it is ultimately revealed that the pair are in fact brother and sister. Yet the moral of the story is that people can change: the indigenous father, who turns out to have kidnapped the girl as a child as he also killed her lover's mother, is converted to Christianity in what are (literally) his dying breaths. Mera therefore (ostensibly) argues for the peaceful assimilation of indigenous people within the national project, by means of the twin virtues of religion and love. The novel is widely taught in Ecuadoran primary and secondary schools and is considered to be among the most important achievements of nineteenth-century Latin American literature. Mera also wrote the words to the Ecuadoran national anthem.

The stamp above is a set of four stamps values 5, 10 ,50 centavos/sucres issued in 1965 for the Centenary of the National anthem. The stamp below is an overprint issued in 1967. In the middle is the lyricist issued in 1982- his 150th birth anniversary.