An Ecuadorian intellectual memorialized in Mexico City thanks to his diplomatic work and love of chess.
Benjamín Carrión was born in Loja, Ecuador, in 1897. At the start of his career in Ecuador, he made a name for himself in writing, especially poetry. In addition, he dabbled in publishing and editing. Having learned French in his youth through books with the help of his mother and brother, his diplomatic career began as the Ecuadorian consul in Le Havre, France, in 1925.
He established several publishing houses, most of which were focused on Latin American literature in Spanish. Many of the books published became crucial in the region’s social realism boom of the 1930s. He became part of various additional diplomatic missions in Peru, Mexico, Colombia, and Chile. His stay in Mexico as ambassador began in 1933 and ended after only one year. In his birth country, the national Casa de la Cultura (House of Culture) in Quito, is named after him, in part due to his role in its founding.
More than three decades after his death in 1979, this statue honoring him was unveiled in Mexico City. Sculpted by Pedro Ramírez, the chess-playing effigy was added to the Plaza de la Santa Vera Cruz in 2011. The Ecuadorian ambassador at the time, Galo Galarza, was in attendance along with Carrión’s daughter Pepé. A metal engraving of a quote of Benjamín’s completes the memorial: “Seamos una potencia de la cultura, porque para eso nos autoriza y alienta nuestra historia.” (“Let us be a powerhouse in culture, since that is what our history authorizes and encourages us to be.”)
Update as of March 2022: The Eastern half of the Plaza de la Santa Veracruz is closed off due to repairs, so the statue cannot be seen currently.