Enriquez was a general in the Ecuadorian army and served as minister of national defense in the government of Federico Páez. In September 1937, he overthrew Páez in a military coup. Although he ruled for less than a year, Enríquez achieved note as a social reformer by his promulgation of the Labor Code of 1938.
Enríquez is also remembered for having initiated a protracted confrontation with the United States-based South American Development Company over the terms of its Ecuadorian concession and the wages it paid its Ecuadorian employees. The company refused to comply with Enríquez's entreaty that more of the profits from its mining operations stay in Ecuador, and it won the support of the United States Department of State.