BECK index

Paraguay 1850-1935

by Sanderson Beck

Paraguay’s López Dictators & War 1850-70
Paraguay Becoming a Republic 1870-71
Paraguay of Jovellanos & Gill 1872-77
Paraguay & the Colorados 1878-93
Paraguay of Egusquiza & Escurra 1894-1904
Paraguay & Liberals 1904-29
Paraguay of Chaco War & Coups 1930-35

Paraguay’s López Dictators & War 1850-70

Argentine Revolution & Paraguay 1817-30
Argentina & Paraguay 1831-50

      Paraguay had about 220,000 people in 1840, and by 1864 there were 525,000. Paraguay abolished slavery, torture, and confiscating goods in 1842, though slavery continued until 1870. In 1842 the Congress had declared, “The Republic of Paraguay shall never be the patrimony of one person or family.”1 Yet the López family would own and operate Paraguay as the son succeeded his father until 1869. In 1844 the Consul Carlos Antonio López persuaded Paraguay’s Congress, which had adopted a constitution giving the President supreme powers, to elect him President for a term of ten years. On 2 January 1846 he decreed that the state reserved all the yerbales and the best forests. Yerba mate contains caffeine. On 7 October 1848 President López confiscated all land owned by mestizos and Indians and about twenty towns.
      Paraguay’s economy was growing in 1850, and that year President López made a commercial treaty with Brazil. In September 1851 Carlos Loizaga and Fernando Iturburu wrote to Argentina’s tyrant Juan Manuel Rosas asking him to invade Paraguay to make it part of the Argentine Confederation. Paraguay had a weekly newspaper since 1845, and in August 1852 it became El Semanario.
      After the dictatorial Governor Juan Manuel Rosas was removed from Buenos Aires in 1852, Paraguay made treaties with Argentina, Britain, France, Sardinia, Prussia, and the United States by 1860. In 1850 and again in 1855 López had Brazilian garrisons driven out of territory that Paraguay claimed. In 1858 Brazil forced Paraguay to grant free navigation of its rivers.
      Edward Augustus Hopkins had represented the United States in Paraguay since 1845. On 14 February 1851 he was made a consul there, and eleven days later President López made Hopkins his special minister to the United States. On 28 August 1852 the Governor of Entre Rios, Justo José Urquiza, decreed that the Plata River system was open to navigation. In February 1853 the United States sent Lt. Thomas J. Page to study the rivers on the large Water Witch steamer. President López signed a treaty with the United States on 4 March 1853. The US Senate found many errors in it and attempted to correct them. In October 1854 Paraguay’s Foreign Minister refused to read the English version. President López ordered Paraguayan rivers closed to foreign warships. In January 1855 Page on the Water Witch sailed up the Paraná River. On February 1 a Paraguayan post at Itapirú fired on the Water Witch and killed the helmsman, and the return fire killed Paraguayans. In December 1857 US President Buchanan complained about this in his message to Congress. Both sides argued about who was to pay reparations, and the case went for years and was never really solved.
      The President’s son Francisco Solano López lived in France in 1853-54, and he arranged for a colony of French to emigrate to Paraguay by the Pilcomayo River. In 1853 Paraguay made a commercial treaty with Britain, but López refused to ratify one with the United States that included navigation. When his 10-year term ended in 1854, López was re-elected for a 3-year term.
      After Brazil raised a large navy in 1854, López partially mobilized the army in January 1855. In February a large force from Brazil arrived near Humaitá with 20 gunboats, 2,061 marines and 3,000 infantry. President López sent his son, General Francisco Solano López, whom he had made Minister of War, to fortify Humaitá with 6,000 troops. President López also sent his Foreign Minister José Berges, and he negotiated with Brazil’s José Maria da Silva Paranhos a treaty agreeing on free navigation of the Paraguay and Paraná rivers in April 1856. That year Paraguay made a commercial treaty with Argentina. In 1857 López was re-elected for another 10-year term. The trade treaty with the British was allowed to expire in 1858. On August 2 the self-proclaimed government in exile that included Loizaga and Iturburu founded the Sociedad Libertadora to appeal to exiles from Paraguay who opposed the López dictatorship. The Chilean exile Francisco Bilbao became the editor of El Grito Paraguayo.
      Carlos Antonio López by 1860 had increased the number of primary schools to 500 with 20,000 boys attending. President López died on 10 September 1862. His last words to his son Francisco Solano López were these:

There are many pending questions to ventilate;
but do not try to solve them by the sword
but by the pen, chiefly with Brazil.2

      General Francisco Solano López had been elected Vice President in 1857, and on 16 October 1862 he succeeded as Supreme Chief and General of the Armies. By December he had imprisoned more than 400 people whose loyalty he suspected. He executed two Decoud brothers for having plotted to assassinate him. He imprisoned Pancha Garmendia, the maid of Asunción, for having refused his sexual advances. She was tortured and killed. Francisco López had met Eliza Lynch in Paris in 1853, and in 1855 she came to Paraguay with 800 ounces of gold that she used to acquire an estate of 437,500 hectares south of the Pilcomayo River. From young López she got gifts that paid for 5 million hectares east of Paraguay. She was Francisco’s mistress and bore him six children from 1855 to 1867.
      More than half the business licenses granted at Asunción went to foreigners in 1863. That year the 36-year-old Francisco López sided with the revolutionary government in Uruguay against Brazil. In February 1864 he was appointed Mariscal, and he established a military camp at Cerro León in March. He ordered 64,000 men drafted into the army, and they were partially trained by August. Paraguay had 40 sailing ships using its rivers and 11 steam warships. Paraguay still had about 20,000 slaves among the 45,000 Negroes.
      On November 12 López ordered the Tacuarí to attack the Brazilian ship Marqués de Olinca which they captured along with 2,000 muskets. They ordered the captured ship to return to Asunción where those on board were arrested the next day. The day after that the Brazilian minister left Paraguay. The Paraguayan War against the Triple Alliance of Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay had begun. Marshal-President López declared war against Brazil on December 13. The next day about 80,000 poorly equipped Paraguayans invaded Brazil’s province Mato Grosso, and on the 26th at Coimbra led by Col. Vicente Barrios they captured 32 brass guns and munitions. Barrios at Corumba let his men rape, pillage, and murder.
      Paraguayans captured several cities by January 1865. That month President López asked Argentina for permission to move his army of 20,000 men through the province of Corrientes, but Argentine President Bartolomé Mitre refused. Paraguay’s Congress met on March 5, and on the 18th they declared war on Argentina. Paraguayans invaded Corrientes on April 13, and Argentina declared war against Paraguay on May 4. On June 11 Brazil’s Navy devastated Paraguay’s fleet in the battle of Riachuelo. Paraguay suffered three times as many casualties as the Allies, and Brazil’s 9 warships sank 4 steamers and 7 barges. In the battle of Yatay on August 17 Paraguay lost 1,700 killed, 300 wounded, and 1,200 captured while the Allies had only 707 casualties.
      On 19 December 1864 the Asociación Paraguayan was founded, and in January 1865 Loizaga and Iturburu went to Rio de Janeiro to ask Brazil to recognize their government in exile, and they promised to raise a force of 2,000 exiles to go against López. On April 22 they organized the Paraguayan Legion to help soldiers support Argentina and Brazil against the López dictatorship. Argentina’s President Mitre approved the Legion being attached to the Argentine Army in May.
      That month Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay formed the Triple Alliance to fight Paraguay. General Wenceslao Robles led a Paraguayan force south from Corrientes, and Brazil sent 4,000 men on ten ships to the city of Corrientes. The Paraguayan Army captured Uruguaiana in August, and they fortified it with 8,000 soldiers. The Allied Army of 18,584 men besieged them on September 4. The Triple Allies to avoid more bloodshed asked three members of the Legion to persuade the Paraguayans to surrender, and Col. Estigarribia and 5,545 remaining forces did so on September 18. Marshal López ordered his troops at Corrientes to leave at the end of October, and he appointed General Isidoro Resquín to replace Robles.
      In 1866 the Allies were building up their forces. On May 2 both sides suffered heavy casualties in the battle of Estero Bellaco. The Paraguayans were outnumbered, and they fled. The biggest battle with 61,000 soldiers including artillery and cavalry was fought at Tuyutí on May 24. Paraguay had about 6,000 killed and 7,000 wounded while the Allies had 4,248 casualties. On the first three days of September a Paraguayan Army of 2,500 fought more than three times as many Brazilians and Argentines at Curuzú in Paraguay, and they suffered much heavier losses. On September 12 Argentina’s President Mitre met with Marshal-President López at Yataity-Corã. Mitre insisted that there would be no peace until López left Paraguay, and that he would not do. Brazil’s Emperor Pedro II was also determined to drive out López.
      On September 22 Mitre’s 9,000 Argentines and 11,000 Brazilians attacked Curupaití which was well defended by 49 cannons and about 5,000 Paraguayans led by general José Eduvigis Díaz who with clever strategy won a surprising battle with only 92 casualties compared to Allied losses of 4,227. After that debacle there were no major battles before the small battles in late October at Tatayíba and Potrero Obella and in a second battle at Tuyuti on November 3 in which the Allies defeated Paraguay’s forces. During this lull the Allies rejected mediation while Paraguayans suffered from attrition. The Allies besieged Paraguayans at Humaitá from November 2 until the Paraguayan forces withdrew on 25 July 1868.
      In January 1868 President Mitre withdrew from the field of war and made the Brazilian General Caxias the supreme commander. Col. Venancio López, brother of the President, was military commander in Asunción. He met with Vice President Francisco Sanchez in a Council of War, and on February 22 they decided to defend the capital. Many people left, and less than 15,000 remained. A suspected conspiracy against President Francisco López during the war led to the arrest of hundreds and the death of 596 between June 19 and 14 December 1868. The Chief of the General Staff, General Resquín estimated that 1,000 persons were executed for various crimes. López eventually drafted all males over the age of 11. Women were forced to work in fields to feed and clothe soldiers, and none were ever paid for war work.
      There were four more minor battles in December 1868. On December 11 at Avay the Brazilian army of 1,663 men killed about 3,000 Paraguayans. In a week-long battle at Itá Ybaté in late December about half of the 3,000 Paraguayans were killed, and the other half surrendered. Most of the Allies’ 3,270 casualties were wounded.
      General Caxias sent 1,700 men on ships, and they occupied Paraguay’s capital at Asunción on 1 January 1869. Four days later the Duke of Caxias arrived with most of Brazil’s Army. General Mitre and 4,000 Argentines were stationed in the outskirts. Brazilians pillaged the city. Mitre controlled his troops, though booty was shipped to Buenos Aires. On January 17 Caxias fainted during mass at the cathedral, and he returned to Montevideo. On 20 February 1869 Brazil’s diplomat José da Silva Paranhos arrived in Asunción after having met with Argentina’s President Sarmiento.
      On March 19 the Provisional Government decreed that all López property was to be confiscated, and in May they embargoed all property that Eliza Lynch claimed. On March 31 Col. Fernando Iturburu invited Legion men and other politicians to his home. With another group they founded the Club Unión Republicana, and they published a democratic manifesto signed by about 100 men including 74 Legionaires. The Allies had finally agreed to give the Legion a flag on March 20, and they presented the national banner to them on May 25. On June 26 the Decouds organized the Club del Pueblo with about 55 members with 9 ex-Legionaires.
      Eliza Lynch in July got 4,400 ounces of gold and 5,600 silver dollars from the United States minister General M. T. MacMahon which were put in trunks and buried beside the road retreated on in the last flight. Soldiers involved in the burials were killed. Lynch also had $8,000 in gold and $25,000 in jewels that were captured with her.
      The Triple Allies of Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay agreed on a triumvirate as Provisional Government for Paraguay. The two clubs made recommendations, and on July 22 about 130 leaders met in the National Theater to choose 21 delegates to a Junta Nacional who would then select 5 electors. Decouds’ club got a majority of the delegates, and they picked three from their club, one from the Unión Republicana, and one independent. Because these were all iturburistas, the decouistas threatened to leave. They compromised, and the electors chose Col. Decoud, José Diaz de Bedoya, and Carlos Loizaga. José Paranhos objected, and Decoud withdrew and was replaced by Cirilo Antonio Rivarola who became the leader. He had worked as a lawyer and advocated liberal democracy which got him into trouble with President López who forced him into military service. The Allies had captured barefoot Sergeant Rivarola on 25 May 1869, and they sent him to Asunción with a recommendation to the Brazilian minister.
       The Brazilians were backing Rivarola. Argentina had influence through the Paraguayan Legion, and their leaders were Benigno Ferreira, Facundo Machaín, and José Segundo Decoud. The Lopistas who were still loyal to the dictator were led by General Bernardino Caballero and Cándido Bareiro who had been a commercial agent for López in Europe.
      On August 12 at Piribebuy about 1,600 Paraguayans tried to fight more than 20,000 Brazilians, and Paraguay had 730 killed and the rest wounded or captured. Four days later a similar result occurred at Acosta Nu where over 20,000 Allies killed 2,000 Paraguayans and wounded or captured 1,500. In these later stages of the war about half of Paraguay’s soldiers were old men and boys.
      On August 26 the Triumvirate decreed that the ministries would be interior, justice, and finance. On September 30 they decreed that homeless persons would be given homes in Trinidad. On October 2 they decreed that slavery was abolished in the entire republic, and any person entering Paraguay would be free after six months. They also abolished forced exile to anywhere in the republic. Paraguay adopted a judicial system based on Spanish codes and the Argentine commercial code.
      On September 10 a Decoud manifesto defended the Paraguayan Legion and promised to help the Paraguayan people. They criticized tyrants and wrote, “Through public instruction and liberal institutions, the creation and elevation of a tyrant must be made impossible.”3 Col. Juan Francisco Decoud bought a press, and his son Juan José was the first editor. The Decouds began publishing La Regeneración on October 1, and they started writing about a constitution on October 10. On December 10 the Decoud family organized the Charity Commission to help the destitute. The Triumvirate faced difficult problems without money or power. They sent some to work on abandoned farms, provided homes for orphans and invalids, built schools to provide jobs, and imposed taxes and customs duties to raise money. They established police, courts, a post office, schools, and a customshouse. By the end of the year the Triumvirate raised $205,786 which was as much as they had spent. The triumvir José Diaz de Bedoya was authorized to go to Argentina to borrow 2 million pesos in gold. He eventually said he was ill, and he never returned.
      In the last battle at Cerro Cora on 1 March 1870 about 4,000 Brazilians killed 200 Paraguayans and captured the other 245. President López was surrounded. He refused to submit and cried out, “I die with my country” before he was killed. His will left all his property to Eliza Lynch. General Julio de Vedia commanded the Argentine Army, and a Provisional Government celebrated a Te Deum in the cathedral on Sunday, March 6. The Paraguayan Legion’s journal La Regeneración wrote,

The 1st of March of 1870 must always
be the anniversary of the liberty of Paraguay,
sealed with the ignominious death of a monster
who ruled it with blood
and exterminated its sons in martyrdom.4

      During the war many soldiers and civilians died of cholera, yellow fever, and other diseases. Scholars have estimated that Paraguay lost well over 400,000 people. A census in 1871 found that 106,254 women, 86,079 children, and 28,748 men had survived, and this can be compared to the estimates of 400,000 people in 1864 or 525,000 in 1865. At the end of the war the Allies estimated that Paraguay had 176,000 natives and 56,000 foreigners. The Buenos Aires Standard reported that 250,000 Paraguayans died in this war. R. C. Kirk, the United States Minister to Argentina, summarized that in this war Brazil lost 168,000 dead and $281,400,000; Argentine had 20,000 die and spent $50 million; and Uruguay had 3,000 killed and expended $6 million. Paraguay had used paper money to finance the war, and at its end it became worthless. Most remaining commerce was in the capital, and the rest of the country suffered poverty. Indians raided villages and captured Paraguayans, mostly women and children, for ransoms. Justo Pastor Benítez (1896-1962) wrote in 1932,

   Perhaps the most terrible and lamentable effect of
the war of 64-70 was destruction of the Paraguayan home.
More than material destruction,
more than territorial spoliation,
it caused Paraguay’s misfortune by its consequences,
the disappearance of that strong and healthy cell
that the family was before that great disaster.
   The country was left without the home.
Homeless and sorrowing women were the ones
who rebuilt the race … and they continue
being its support after more than fifty years….
The formation of families is almost an exception,
the percentage of natural children is alarming …
because the natural child in our country is
a creature abandoned to the weak protection of the woman.
Almost never can it count on paternal protection.5

Paraguay Becoming a Republic 1870-71

      In January 1870 the Club del Pueblo formed the Asociación Constitucional. On February 5 a Triumvirate of Carlos Loizaga, Jose Diaz de Bedoya, and Cirilo Antonio Rivarola represented Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay, and they proposed civil and political guarantees for Paraguay. On March 7 the Triumvirate ordered the political chiefs in every department and military commanders of towns to establish at least one elementary school. Asunción started a Colegio Municipal (high school) on April 1, and the Colegio Nacional began on December 1. Most schools taught French, Spanish, and English. Guarani, which most people spoke, was forbidden in schools. Paraguay did not have a public library until 1870, and it had only 526 books by October 1871.
      On 23 March 1870 the Club del Pueblo reorganized itself as the Gran Club del Pueblo, and they made Facundo Machaín their president. The next day the Bareiristas changed the Club Unión to the former name of their rival, the Club del Pueblo, and they began publishing La Voz del Pueblo. Silva Paranhos in early April persuaded Argentina and Uruguay to send representatives to Asunción.
      On April 3 at a meeting in the National Theater to choose candidates, some opposed a compromise list. Cándido Bareiro, who had returned from Europe in February 1869, led some outside, and they asked the Allied occupiers for more supervision of elections. On 20 June 1870 General Julio de Vedia, Silva Paranhos, Carlos Loizaga, and Cirilo Rivarola signed a peace treaty ending the war and granting free river navigation. They agreed to begin negotiations in three months. Paraguay reserved the right to suggest changes to the Treaty of the Triple Alliance which promised not to intervene in Paraguay’s politics if elections were held within three months. There would be two sides in the election on July 3. The Gran Club put Benigno Ferreira in charge of their security forces, and the Decouds provided policies in La Regeneración.
      Benigno Ferreira was born on 13 January 1846, and President Carlos Antonio López prevented Benigno from attending the Colegio in Asuncion; but he got a scholarship to attend the Colegio Nacional in Concepción, Entre Ríos. In 1869 Ferreira had signed a petition asking the Allies to form a corps of volunteers to fight López. He was one of the principal editors of La Regeneración. He was the port captain and commander of 529 men in the National Guard formed in Asunción.
      The Miltos brothers were educated in France, and they formed another faction. On June 29 Bareiro’s faction tried and failed to take over the militia’s barracks. Bareiristas led by Rufino Taboada wounded Dr. Facundo Machaín. The result was that they elected only 12 delegates while the Gran Club del Pueblo had 42 delegates. On July 15 Brazilian soldiers attacked the pro-Argentine La Voz del Pueblo.
      The Constitutional Convention opened on August 15, and they would have 83 sessions before they concluded on December 10. On August 18 the delegates elected José Segundo Decoud the permanent chair. Juan Silvano Godoy, who had studied in Uruguay and Argentina, Bernardo Recalde, and Machaín did not trust Cirilo Rivarola’s liberalism. Dr. Facundo Machaín was well educated, and he studied with Andrés Bello at the University of Chile where he earned a doctorate in jurisprudence. Machaín was most persuasive at the convention. They chose to have a president instead of the triumvirate, and on August 31 they selected Machaín to replace Rivarola as the president.
      Many objected to this maneuver, and on September 1 some Brazilian troops surrounded the convention’s meeting-place. The next day Machaín was deposed, and they expelled him along with five others. Elections replaced them with members of the Club del Pueblo. Rufino Taboada had been appointed chief of police, and he tried to reduce the conflict. After a mass meeting of Italians with inflammatory speeches, on September 23 they sacked La Regeneración’s office, destroying its business. In the chaos Brazilian and Argentine troops plundered houses. Police arrested many Italians, and on September 24 they ordered all Italians to register at the police headquarters. The Decouds found another press, and on November 6 they began publishing La Opinión Pública which criticized the government. A coup approved by Allied generals put Cirilo Rivarola back in as provisional president, and he appointed Bareiro the secretary-general. On November 20 Rivarola closed down La Opinión Pública, and he was elected president on November 25 with Cayo Miltos as Vice President.
      The convention approved the 1870 Constitution on November 18, and 58 delegates signed it on the 24th. The Constitution was based on the Argentine Charter of 1853 which was influenced by the United States Constitution of 1787 with its separate branches of government and civil rights and by the French Constitution of 1789 which made the national government stronger. Promoting dictatorship was considered treason, and outlawing slavery was ratified. The first Congress would have 13 senators and 26 deputies with terms of six and four years. The President could not declare a siege unless the Congress was not in session. The five ministries were Interior, Foreign Affairs, Finance, War, and one for Justice, Religion, and Education. The central government’s power was increased by having the Interior Minister appoint political chiefs (jefes politicos) who controlled local affairs. Courts included a Supreme Tribunal and two for appeals from six civil, two commercial, and nine criminal courts. All men 18 and older could vote, though those under 22 were subject to parental authority. The established religion was Roman Catholic, and Congress could not prohibit the practice of any religion.
      On September 6 Silva Paranhos had defended the treaty in Brazil’s Senate, and he was made the Visconde do Rio Branco on October 12. He went to Buenos Aires where he talked with Dr. Carlos Tejedor of Argentina and Dr. Adolfo Rodríguez of Uruguay on December 9 as a conference began. They negotiated, and on 25 January 1871 they agreed on ten protocols. Brazil’s Emperor Pedro II recalled Rio Branco to Rio de Janeiro to become president of his Council and Minister of Finance on March 7.
      The government of Paraguay issued 100,000 pesos in paper money on 29 December 1870. President Cirilo Rivarola named Caylo Miltos Vice President. He accepted, but he died of yellow fever on 7 January 1871. Rivarola replaced him with Salvador Jovellanos whom he also made Interior Minister. The first elections for the new Congress were on January 25, and the Congress met in February. In April the Congress approved a plan for an agricultural colony.
      The government issued 300,000 pesos of paper money on July 15. They also had made loans and had other obligations, and all of these were consolidated with the paper money into national public credit bonds totaling $1,648,301 which would be retired by what came from the English bond issue. President Rivarola relied on Dr. William Stewart in England as his confidential agent, but they learned that no British subject could be a diplomat for a foreign country. The Argentine merchant, Dr. Maximo Terrero, became Paraguay’s financial agent, and on November 21 he negotiated with Waring Brothers an issue of £1,000,000 in 6% bonds. A prospectus valued Paraguay’s public lands at £35 million and public buildings at £400,000. On 8 March 1872 Congress would approve a second loan for £2,000,000. Terrero also made efforts to attract more immigrants. Juan José Brizuela considered the loans a corrupting influence, and he wrote that the loan had been an evil for the country. Before a third of it had arrived from Buenos Aires, it had already disappeared. According to Joaquim Azambuja’s letter to Manuel Francisco Correia those who had become wealthy were the Finance Minister Pedro Recalde, Brizuela, Gill, and the Senate President Miguel Palacios.
      Rivarola was in poverty before being in the government; but within a few months he had a hacienda and a house that López had given to Eliza Lynch. He was playing her piano in May when an assassin shot at him and missed. Rivarola appointed José Segundo Decoud interim Minister of Foreign Affairs to please Liberals and General Caballero the Minister of War for the Lopistas even though both of them opposed him. He had appointed Juan Bautista Gill the Minister of the Treasury, and Gill persuaded the Brazilians that he could govern Paraguay better than Rivarola.
      On 1 October 1871 by-elections were held to fill vacancies in the Chamber of Deputies, and the Rivarola-Gill-Ferreira faction called the Liberal Party was challenged by the Bareiro-Decoud-Machaín-Taboada coalition of the National Party. Gill gave away liquor and food to get votes. The opposition controlled the Senate, and on October 12 they impeached Gill. President Rivarola asked them to reconsider. They refused, and on the 15th he dissolved the Congress.
      The Allied ministers arriving at Asunción in October included the Baron of Cotegipe from Brazil, Dr. Manuel Quintana from Argentina, and Adolfo Rodríguez from Uruguay. They agreed to a treaty on November 6. Cotegipe hosted a grand ball on December 2. Rodríguez opposed Quintana and supported Cotegipe. Argentines were offended by Brazilians who were going against the Treaty of Alliance by negotiating separately with Paraguay.
      Both houses of Congress had new elections on November 19. Violence again marred the elections as Gill’s Guarará Battalion murdered Fulgencio Miltos. On the 26th the government announced the votes giving them the victory, and the National Party rebelled. On December 9 Salvador Jovellanos became Vice President. When President Rivarola resigned on December 18, that made Jovellanos the President of Paraguay. On that day the new Congress convened. The Senate elected Gill as their President, and the Chamber of Deputies chose his cousin, Higinio Uriarte, as their President.

Paraguay of Jovellanos & Gill 1872-77

      In January 1872 Brazil’s Cotegipe negotiated with Paraguay’s Carlos Loizaga, and Brazil’s empire would increase by 3,324 square leagues of land between the cordilleras Amambay and Maracayú and the Rio Apa. They signed a treaty on peace and the territory on January 9, on extradition on the 16th, and on friendship, commerce, and navigation on the 18th. Gill and Juan José Brizuela got the Congress to ratify them with little opposition on February 6. The British minister at Buenos Aires criticized these treaties especially for requiring Paraguay to pay an indemnity that could be over $300 million in gold. Gill promised the United States Minister John L. Stevens that Cotegipe assured him that Brazil would not expect to be paid as long as Paraguay did not grant the Gran Chaco to Argentina. Argentine troops had occupied Villa Occidental since November 1869.
      On 31 January 1872 Argentina’s President Sarmiento ordered General Julio de Vedia to move the Argentine frontier to the Andes and take formal possession as governor of the Chaco Territory. Brazil’s Council approved the treaties and advised ratification. President Jovellanos favored Brazil, though he had an Argentine wife. While Argentina was negotiating with Brazil, Jovellanos sent Loizaga to Buenos Aires where he told Dr. Carlos Tejedor that Paraguay claimed all the territory they had before the war and that Argentines must evacuate Villa Occidental. Argentina suggested dividing the Chaco Territory into three equal parts for Paraguay, Bolivia, and Argentina. On February 10 Congress established the Economic Administration Committee to govern the seven largest towns including Asunción.
      Gill learned that General Benigno Ferreira was using furniture that had belonged to López and Eliza Lynch. Gill sent a man to take items to his home. When Ferreira refused to give them up, Gill on March 8 demanded that Jovellanos dismiss Ferreira, or he would be impeached. Ferreira responded by arresting Gill and preparing charges against him, and the Chamber of Deputies debated whether to impeach him for misappropriation of funds. Ferreira directed the Chamber to expel Gill who left on a riverboat to Uruguay. General Bernardino Caballero was a popular officer, and Rivarola in July appointed him Minister of War. On 18 December 1872 Nación Paraguaya became the first daily newspaper and supported Jovellanos.
      President Jovellanos and Ferreira selected the candidates for the election on 25 January 1873 and they went off as planned. His government was loyal to Brazil, and they did not like the agreement made by Argentina’s Mitre and the Visconde de Sao Vicente. On February 8 Foreign Affairs Minister José Falcón, Loizaga, and Araburu resigned from the Jovellanos cabinet, leaving only Ferreira, Francisco Soteras, and José del Rosario Miranda who was appointed Minister of War and acting Minister of Foreign Relations. In March the opposition favored by Argentina revolted against President Jovellanos and Interior Minister Ferreira who had been Minister of War and the Navy under Rivarola in 1871. Rivarola’s attempt at a coup on March 6 failed, and he found refuge in the Brazilian barracks. On the 14th Brazilians escorted him to a ship headed toward Argentina, and he got off at Corrientes where he wrote a manifesto.
      On 22 March 1873 General Bernardino Caballero, the former War Minister, proclaimed “that it is preferable to rise and to fight to guarantee liberty than to bow cowardly to the will of tyrants.”6 He urged them to overthrow the system, restore the Constitution, oppose forced military service, restore free elections, and resist imprisonment and exiling good citizens. They must stop looting the treasury, respect international agreements, meet debt payments, and convert paper money. Many rebels boarded a train to Paraguari, and at Pirayú they took over the train.
      The government had only 100 cavalry, 200 infantry, and 50 police. On March 23 Jovellanos called people to arm, and he sent 350 men by railway to Pirayú. General Bernardino Caballero opposed Jovellanos and led 4,000 poorly armed and trained men. Major Ferreira with 1,500 soldiers managed to defeat the rebels at Villarica and Paraguarí. Some rebels escaped to Corrientes. Jovellanos kept Lopiztas under arrest. El Progreso questioned and criticized the government, and on May 3 police closed the newspaper. Argentina’s former President Mitre came to Asunción and negotiated with Miranda. On June 7 Caballero’s force cut the railroad between Cerro León and Pirayú. His army of 3,000 rebels marched on the capital, and once again on June 18 the smaller army was victorious as the rebels fled. Jovellanos offered to pardon all rebels who came in by June 29. Most hid in Paraguay or went to Argentina with Caballero. Paraguay’s army chased many to Villa Occidental and captured a few. Some 1,200 government troops returned to Asunción in triumph on July 27.
      On July 2 El Imparcial edited by Cándido Piquiló began publishing. On July 6 Jovellanos met with Mitre, Miranda, and the Visconde de Araguaia to discuss the Chaco territory. Dr. José Sienra Carranza of Uruguay signed a peace treaty with Paraguay on December 13. On December 31 General Caballero called on Paraguayans to join the revolution.
      Paraguay’s Minister of War Francisco Lino Cabriza in early January 1874 at first could not find the rebels. Then he pursued come cavalry toward Pilar. Congress approved $200,000 to fight the revolt. The government’s annual income was $500,000 while $600,000 was needed each year to service the loans from London. Brazil sent financial aid through Juan Bautista Gill to the rebels. On February 12 at Campo Grande about 2,000 rebels defeated the government’s forces led by Col. Ferreira and Col. Cabriza. After four hours of fighting the government troops fled. Ferreira went into exile, and the rebels marched toward the capital. Before they reached the city, President Jovellanos agreed to Brazil’s ambassador Gondim’s mediation.
      Bareiro and Caballero tried to take over by imprisoning enemies and changing the cabinet, but President Jovellanos refused to resign. Gill declined the presidency. Caballero replaced Ferreira as Interior Minister; Gill became Finance Minister again; and Cándido Bareiro was given the Foreign Affairs Ministry. On April 6 Bareiro resigned and was replaced by Gill’s cousin Higinio Uriarte. On April 17 the Argentine party led by Rivarola and José Moles led a revolt that was put down by 2,500 Brazilian troops on the 27th. The revolutionaries fled, and Rivarola was caught and imprisoned. Argentina’s President Sarmiento to prevent a war against Brazil ordered General Vedia to move all his troops to Villa Occidental.
      In the Presidential election on June 21 Paraguayans chose Juan Bautista Gill as President and Uriarte as Vice President. On November 25 Gill was inaugurated, and he extended amnesty to all Paraguayans. He promised peace and asked for reconciliation. He said he recognized no parties because “all people have the perfect right to live peacefully in the land.”7 He made his brother, General Emilio Gill, the Finance Minister and Dr. Facundo Machaín the Foreign Affairs Minister.
      Revenue from customs duties fell from $322,485 in 1873 to $137,112 in 1875. Congress passed a budget of about $440,000 for 1874, and expenditures for that year would be over $1 million. On 19 September 1874 the Congress approved $500,000 for the Asociación General del Comercio Paraguayo. The country had suffered four years of droughts and locust plagues. On 22 April 1875 President Gill issued $1,000,000 in paper money, and he organized a tobacco monopoly. Paper money became worthless. Spies reported those who refused to accept it, and they were fined or imprisoned. On August 17 a new law gave the government a monopoly on salt and soap for three years. After getting advice from his agent Carlos Saguier in Buenos Aires, Gill on October 5 decreed an end to monopolies, and he summoned the Congress to revise the Constitution. Congress repealed the laws that had caused the crisis, and they authorized selling land for up to $6,000,000, and by the end of October they had received £22,168 in gold and silver.
      Gregorio Benítes was sent to London to deal with the British loans, and he was criticized for paying debts of the López regime. He was accused of embezzling and was arrested on 8 May 1875. He confessed to handling much money. Brazil’s minister Pereira Leal persuaded Gill to release Benítes on July 29. He went to Montevideo and published Las imposturas de Juan Bautista Gill which damaged Gill’s reputation.
      On 20 May 1875 Jaime Sosa of Paraguay and Carlos Tejedor for Argentina agreed to a treaty in which Paraguay ceded to Argentina the Chaco territory north to Pilcomayo, Misiones, and Villa Occidental, and war debts were cancelled. On June 14 Facundo Machaín learned of it, and he told President Gill that he considered it treason. Three days later Gill decreed his disavowal of the treaty, and he discharged Sosa. The next day Gil decreed that Machaín was his minister to Brazil. Pereira Leal and the Brazilian commander were concerned that Argentina might react to the disavowal by taking Cerrito Island. Two Brazilian infantry battalions left Asunción while Argentina sent 300 reinforcements to Villa Occidental and Corrientes. Argentina’s President Avellaneda sent Senator Dardo Rocha to Asunción where Machaín told him that Paraguay would never cede Villa Occidental.
      Machaín went to Rio de Janeiro for three months and then to Buenos Aires in December. General Germán Serrano and Col. Molas on December 8 led a revolt in Caacupé, and a few rebels joined them at Itauguá and Pirayú. President Gill declared a siege and called out the national guard on December 10. The next day the rebels retreated resulting in leaders being captured while others dispersed. General Serrano tried to escape and was killed on 11 January 1876. On February 3 Machaín and Bernardo de Irigoyen at Buenos Aires signed a treaty that recognized the Chaco Central as Argentine territory, settling most of Argentina’s territorial claims. They would administer Villa Occidental until the arbitration decision, and the Argentinians agreed to withdraw all their troops from Paraguay by July 3. A joint session of Paraguay’s Congress ratified the treaty on February 21. Brazil praised the treaty as a triumph of international justice, and they ordered their forces to evacuate Paraguay and Cerrito Island.
The Banco Nacional del Paraguay began with £300,000 capitalization on 1 July 1875. On that day La Reforma edited by José Secundo Decoud began publishing. He wrote a series of articles urging an end to the occupation by foreign troops and for a treaty with Argentina.
      On 1 March 1876 President Gill left on a tour of the interior, and he found the people calm and friendly. He returned on April 17. On May 13 Brazil’s 17th battalion left for Rio de Janeiro. The last of Brazil’s 8,000 troops left Paraguay on June 22 which the Congress declared a holiday. By 1876 Paraguay had 350 schools, but only 30 of them were for girls.
      On 12 April 1877 on a street President Gill was shot dead by Nicanor Godoy, and then Molas, José Franco, and Mariano Gaelano wounded his two aides. Police attacked the assassins who escaped on horses. When they saw the President’s brother General Emilio Gill, Matías Goiburu murdered him. Vice President Higinio Uriarte became President and declared a state of siege, sent troops after the rebels, and chose his cabinet. The rebels were defeated on April 17 and fled. The troops led by General Patricio Escobar killed Goiburu and captured Galeano and Franco, and wounded Molas surrendered. Godoy escaped. Dr. Facundo Machaín witnessed the assassination, and he defended those who were accused of murder. On May 20 Machaín and José Secundo Decoud founded the Sociabilidad Paraguaya to promote culture and the common welfare.
      On July 30 Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay signed a protocol that guaranteed Paraguay’s sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity for five years. By August the only newspapers in La Asunción were El Imparcial, La Reforma, and El Comercio which covered economics. La Reforma criticized Brazil severely.
      On September 5 an informer told the police that Machaín was plotting with Rivarola to overthrow the government and make either of them president. The next day General Caballero had Machaín put in jail, and he was released on a bond. Bareiro and Escobar joined Caballero’s plot to discredit the popular Machaín, and they put him and others in jail on October 15. Molas planned an escape on the night of 28-29. On that night some were allowed to escape, and then officers carried out the plan of Caballero, Bareiro, and Escobar by going in and murdering the manacled prisoners Molas, Machaín, Galeano, and Franco.

Paraguay & the Colorados 1878-93

      The National Republicans became known as the Colorados or Reds while the Liberals were called Blues (Azules). President Cándido Bareiro founded what came to be called the Colorado Party. He made Bernardino Caballero the Minister of the Interior, Patricio Escobar the Minister of War and the Navy, Dr. Benjamín Aceval as Minister of Foreign Affairs, Juan Antonio Jara as Treasury Minister, and José Secundo Decoud the Minister of Justice, Religion, and Public Instruction.
      On 17 February 1878 the ruling clique started the Club Libertad, and they nominated Bareiro and Saguier in the presidential election. They were unopposed and were elected on August 15. Bareiro was inaugurated on November 25. Five masked assassins on a street corner stabbed to death Cirilo Antonio Rivarola on December 31. Eventually the conspirators were found, but courts freed them on 24 January 1880.
      United States President Rutherford B. Hayes had arbitrated the dispute between Paraguay and Argentina over the boundary in the Chaco in November 1878 favoring Paraguay. Aceval led the delegation that managed to recover sovereignty over Villa Occidental. They renamed it Villa Hayes after the US President, and authority was transferred on 14 May 1879.
      Paraguay had $109,506 in paper money circulating, and the bonds of the defunct Asociación del Comercio Paraguayo had been reduced to $6,000. The government found so much counterfeit money that on 29 April 1879 they decreed that a second validation required surrendering paper money which was then burned.
      Paraguay’s budget for 1880 was $271,828, and President Barreiro was paid $500 per month. To be able to pay salaries the government issued $120,000 in paper money in July. By 1880 Paraquay’s debt with interest was £3 million. President Cándido Bareiro had a stroke at night, and he told the new Minister of War, Col. Pedro Duarte, to take control of the situation. The next morning Duarte called the cabinet to meet and did not invite Vice President Saguier. Duarte told them what happened, he suggested that they make General Caballero the provisional president. In the hour after that meeting Bareiro died on September 4. Duarte summoned Saguier and persuaded him to get the allegiance of the military in their barracks. There Duarte put Saguier into a cell until he resigned. On that day the Senate accepted Saguier’s resignation, and they approved making General Caballero the President of Paraguay. There was no opposition to this, and in his Manifesto to the People he wrote, “The people may be assured that it will be my first duty to guarantee the lives and interests of all inhabitants of the Republics.”8
      In his cabinet Caballero had the wise advice of the Liberal José Secundo Decoud. He knew Spanish, English, French, and German, and he had the best private library in the Plata basin. The United States Minister John Edmund Bacon considered Decoud the ablest of the Paraguayans and the best diplomat in South America. In April 1881 President Caballero’s first annual message to Congress got their support. In June the Interior Ministry established the General Department of Immigration. In that month Congress authorized schools of agriculture, business, and arts. They passed legislation in September, and in November a contract was made for $41,800 to restore the telegraph line to Paso de Patria.
      A mass meeting in the Teatro Nacional on September 25 supported Caballero before the election, and the Club Libertad was revived and endorsed him for president with Juan Antonio Jara for vice president. Within two years the domestic debt was reduced from $800,000 to $647,000, though the English debt was ignored. The budget for 1882 was $285,275, and the nation recognized debts of $23,426,293. The National University began in July when the School of Law was established. Congress funded subsidies so that students could study in Uruguay and Argentina. Caballero and Jara were easily elected on 25 September 1882.
      José Secundo Decoud was Minister of Foreign Affairs from 1879 to 1886. Argentina renewed diplomatic relations, and a commercial treaty was signed. Uruguay agreed to renounce Paraguay’s war indemnities in the Decoud-Kubly Treaty on 20 April 1883. After negotiating for two years Decoud on June 7 signed a new treaty with Brazil providing Paraguay free trade with Brazil’s Mato Grosso, and the treaty was ratified on 28 May 1884. Decoud went to London in 1885 and negotiated reducing the capital debt to £850,000 in exchange for a grant of 145 acres for each £100 of unpaid interest. In 1895 a new agreement added £100,920 to the principal, and by 1908 the debt was reduced to £831,850.
      On 11 July 1885 Congress passed Paraguay’s most important land law. Land in eastern Paraguay would be sold for $800 or $1,200 per league while Chaco lands went for $300, $200 or $100 per league. A second land sale law offered parcels of 2,000 acres or more in the additional 14 million acres. Also in 1885 Paraguay sold 5 million hectares to Carlos Casado in Argentina for a low price. On 6 March 1886 the Congress bought back the railway from Mendes, Patri y Cía so that the line could be extended to Villa Rica.
      Patricio Escobar was born on 17 March 1843. He joined the army in 1865 and during the war he was often wounded and became a colonel. Brazilians captured him at Cerro Corá and sent him to Rio de Janeiro along with Caballero and Juan Crisóstomo Centurión. Foreign diplomats considered Escobar more intelligent than Caballero and a source of wise advice along with Dacoud. In 1885 Caballero formed the Club del Pueblo to support Escobar for president and José del Rosario Miranda for vice president, and the Club had a mass meeting on July 26 and nominated the two men. According to El Latigo they were elected fraudulently in September. The Colorado government did not interfere with the Liberals as they organized the Centro Democrático Partido.
      President Patricio Escobar was inaugurated on 25 November 1886. The government established the National Library and Museum on 21 September 1887 and the National University on 31 December 1889. The Superior Council of Education was started to supervise the nation’s schools. Selling land financed extending the Paraguay Central Railway.
      Méndez Fleitas provided the Colorados with a political philosophy. The only capable cabinet member was the Minister of Foreign Relations Benjamín Aceval. On 25 October 1885 the Finance Minister Juan de la Cruz Giménez had been giving such a confused report to Congress that Antonio Taboada asked many embarrassing questions. Taboada had fought in the war and became active in politics helping to found the Gran Club del Pueblo and later the Club Libertad to support Caballero. Ignacio Ibarra was editor of La Democracia, and he supported Taboada’s charges. The parliamentary committee investigated them. On November 8 José Segundo Decoud and Juan Gualberto González defended Giménez. Taboada was one of the leaders who organized the anti-Caballero Club Popular in December 1886, and they elected Marcelino Rodas their president. They nominated Esteban Gorostiaga and Taboada to oppose the Colorados Caballero and Claudio Gorostiaga for senator and deputy from Villa Rica. In 1886 the Brazilian chargé Affonso de Carvalho explained why Argentina controlled most of landlocked Paraguay’s trade, stating,

It is certain that this republic
finds itself in complete dependence on Argentina.
Buenos Aires is the only port
of importation for Paraguay’s trade,
and that is why the commerce of Asunción
is subject to all of the fluctuations in Buenos Aires.9

      The election on 13 February 1887 was even more corrupt. The Liberals lost seats, though they also used fraud in some places. Congress convened on April 1. Four deputies had not been certified, and the caballeristas on the Elections Committee certified three Colorados. The violent election in Villa Rica had been postponed to June 22, and many Liberals were arrested. Taboada invited 40 friends to his home on July 2, and on the 10th in a larger meeting 134 Liberals organized the Centro Democrático to oppose big government and protect liberty. On August 25 at Caballero’s home 106 prominent Colorados founded the Colorado Party. José Segundo Decoud and Centurión led the effort to form a group to promote prosperity and secure public liberties on September 2. On the 11th the Colorados met at the Teatro Olimpo and nominated Caballeros for president. On December 8 the Colorados and the Liberals clashed at a pilgrimage. Decoud spoke out, and President Escobar silenced him by appointing him Minister of Foreign Affairs again replacing Aceval.
      In 1888 President Escobar appointed Centurión to replace Decoud. After the elections at the end of 1888 El Latigo again verified that there was much fraud at the polls. During registration on December 23 about 1,500 Liberals came to register by the Church of the Encarnación. Colorados came and were outnumbered. Then police arrived with rifles, killed 4, wounded 37, and arrested 68. That church was burned down on 4 January.
      The Paraguayan Central Railway Company (PCRC) was financed by state and private capital in 1889. In September some businessmen urged Colorados and Liberals to end their warfare. They agreed in the next election to nominate a Colorado for president and a Liberal for vice president, and a commission chose Juan Gualberto González for president and Victor M. Soler for vice president. When Liberals tried to register at the cathedral on 1 January 1890, they were met by soldiers with machetes. Negotiations failed, and Soler withdrew on March 31. On April 6 about 800 Colorados gathered at Caballero’s home to replace Soler. Taboada accused the Escobar regime of killing freedom and widespread corruption. At Caballero’s country home they nominated Senator Rosendo Carísimo for vice president. Escobar gave a liberal speech (probably written by Decoud or Centurión) suggesting that nonviolent revolution can restore rights while insurrections are by ignorant and vulgar people. He also said,

A country … will never come to be completely free
when its people are not industrious,
when there is no spirit of initiative among them
which brings together individual resources
to carry out a useful enterprise,
when little effort is devoted
to the cultivation of mother earth
to which is linked man’s well-being—in a word,
when they are not independent and
expect everything from the largess of the government.10

      Benigno Ferreira and Juan Silvano Godoi in Argentina were cooperating with Liberals in Paraguay. Escobar imported munitions for an enlarged army, and the steamer Elena was made a warship. Some Colorados wanted Col. Juan Alberto Meza for president. Caballero and Escobar held a banquet, and they published a manifesto urging unity. Meza agreed to withdraw in August. Carísimo declined to be a candidate and was replaced by Marcos Morínigo. Liberals boycotted the election in September, and González and Morínigo were easily elected.
      President Juan González was inaugurated on 25 August 1890. During the four years of his presidency droughts, floods, and locusts damaged agriculture and the economy. He appointed José Tomás Sosa the Interior Minister, Dr. Venancio López the Foreign Affairs Minister, and he made José Segunda Decoud the Finance Minister to deal with the economic crisis. Dr. Benjamin Aceval became Minister of Justice, Religion and Public Instruction, and Col. Juan b. Equsquiza was appointed Minister of War. Decoud presented a plan to Congress for issuing paper money backed by mortgages, public land, an expected rise in gold reserves, and factories to process raw materials. These resulted in inflation which worsened the economy. In 1891 President Juan González told the Congress that lack of skill among the Colorados forced him to find qualified men from various parties. When Congress required that heads of all offices be Paraguayans, González vetoed that bill. This was repeated in 1892, and the Congress overrode the veto, prompting some to comment that Europeans were replaced by incompetent Paraguayans.
      In February 1891 the Colorados used terror and fraud to defeat the Liberals in the elections. José de la Cruz Ayala was campaigning at Ybicui with an armed guard, and a band of Colorados killed and wounded many. Taboada was president of the Liberal Party, and he resigned on February 26 to support a revolutionary committee. Juan Bautista Rivarola was gathering arms for 700 men. Cecilio Báez wrote a manifesto criticizing Colorados for violence, incompetence, corruption, thievery, fraud, and selling out to foreigners. Caballero had been a usurper; Escobar sold the Tacurupucú yerbales and stole the money; González had brought general misery; and Congress corrupted the courts.
      The Liberal revolt began on October 18, and they captured Resguardo and Capitanía. Police Chief Juan A. Meza led troops, and the rebels soon fled and hid. González declared a state of siege for 30 days, and 150 Liberals were captured and put in jail. All the Liberals in government positions were fired. Despite rumors of plots not much happened until infantry tired of ill treatment and poor pay mutinied on 21 March 1892. They were arrested. González lifted the siege in September. While the Liberals boycotted the elections on 12 February 1893, Colorados won all the positions. That month La Libertad began publishing, and they criticized the gonzalistas. Crops that survived the drought of 1892-93 were eaten by locusts. Human hunger increased, and livestock were starving too.

Paraguay of Egusquiza & Escurra 1894-1904

      President González hoped that José Segunda Decoud would succeed him while Civic Liberals wanted the War Minister Juan Bautista Egusquiza. The three factions of the Colorados were caballeristas, gonzalistas, and egusquistas. La República and El Progreso supported González, and La Libertad published a biography of Caballero. Decoud withdrew and endorsed Egusquiza. The Liberals planned to nominate Benjamín Aceval. Dr. Amaro Cavalcanti was a Brazilian jurist, and Brazil’s Minister Lins de Almeida presented him to González on 9 March 1894. Brazil empowered Cavalcanti to organize a coup to overthrow González. Brazil had three gunboats in the harbor, and Cavalcanti bribed capital police, officers, and some members of Congress.
      On 9 June 1894 the Congress informed Egusquiza that he was to be elected Paraguay’s President. The next day Congress elected Vice President Marcos Antonio Morínigo to be the Acting President. On August 20 Egusquiza easily was elected. González went into exile at Buenos Aires, and he wrote a manifesto listing his accomplishments as President. He noted that customs revenues increased from $2 million in 1890 to $16 million in 1893. They built bridges and roads, extended railways, tramways, and telegraph lines, and completed many public buildings. He claimed that 18 treaties had been negotiated, and he noted that guilty political leaders had minimal punishments. Political conciliation in Paraguay was called “egusquicismo.”
      Paraguay made the Ichazo-Benítez Treaty on November 23, though it was never ratified. Juan Bautista Egusquiza was inaugurated on November 25. He chose perceptive Colorados and Liberal Cívicos for his cabinet. In the 1895 elections Egusquiza allowed the Liberals to elect two senators and four deputies by preventing Colorado opposition to them at the polls. The President opened the Congress on April 1 with the positive statement,

One of the most dependable signs of our present
favorable situation is the gradual disappearance
of the deep hatreds and passions that have divided
and ruled the Paraguayan family since the war.11

There were no complaints of fraud in the elections, and he promised to reduce political conflicts.
      On April 16 Congress granted amnesty to all those who had fled or had been convicted of political crimes. Antonio Taboada, Cecilio Báez, Pedro Caballero, and Adolfo Soler had returned from exile in 1892 and 1893. Benigno Ferreira was recalled from Buenos Aires by the end of 1894, and Liberals elected him president of their party on 23 February 1895, though Báez and other directors still opposed him because of the 1872 loans. Benigno Ferreira resigned, and Fabio Queirola replaced him. Ferreira became the leader of the Civic Liberals, and they published El Cívico from September 1895 until 1908. Brazil’s envoy Henrique Carlos Ribeira Lisboa observed that Paraguay was still primitive and lacked the resources needed to make improvements.
      The Radical Liberal Cecilio Báez criticized the new Treasury Secretary Agustín Cañete for having liquidated the Banco Nacional del Paraguay that defrauded depositors by issuing new notes, but Colorados blocked the attempt by Congress to impeach him. Cañete was also serving as interim Minister of Foreign Affairs, and he insisted on resigning from the cabinet. In June 1895 Benjamín Aceval replaced Cañete as Finance Minister. Egusquiza silenced critics of both parties by appointing Dr. Benjamín Aceval as Treasury Minister and José Secundo Decoud as Minister of Foreign Affairs.
      President Egusquiza tried to improve foreign trade by improving the quality of yerba, by starting a school of agriculture, and by controlling the exploitation of yerbales that were owned by the state. Aceval made an agreement to pay English creditors, and by the end of 1895 Paraguay’s internal debt was down to $437,980 while revenues increased to $5,100,495. The government allotted 500 square leagues to the Anglo-Paraguay Land Company. Egusquiza chose his cabinet members based on ability, not party membership. In October 1896 Congress authorized issuing $8 million in treasury bills, and on 1 July 1897 they approved raising the amount of paper money in circulation to $10 million. Foreign experts taught more modern methods of growing and marketing tobacco, and the number of cattle and horses increased. The anti-Colorado revolutionary Juan Silvano Godoi returned to Asunción in 1897. He was welcomed by Enrique Solano López, the son of Eliza Lynch and Francisco López.
      In January 1896 President Egusquiza had sent Godoi to Amaro Cavalcanti and Brazil’s President Prudente de Morais to press for the López claims in Mato Grosso. When Godoi returned in March, he wrote about his mission to Rio de Janeiro and published it in Buenos Aires in 1897. He accused José Secundo Decoud of proposing that Paraguay be annexed by Argentina based on a letter he wrote to his brother Adolfo Decoud on 21 January 1878, though an analysis of the handwriting led to the discovery that the date had been changed from 1878 to 1891. The press of both major parties supported Decoud. Liberals brought it up in April 1898, and on May 5 Congress voted to reject the resolution to impeach Decoud.
      In January 1898 Egusquiza asked his Interior Minister Angel Martínez to resign, and he replaced him with Rudino Mazó. President Egusquiza chose his War Minister Emilio Aceval to succeed him while Caballero and Escobar wanted Agustín Cañete or Caballero’s nephew. The Liberal press opposed Aceval and preferred Cañete. The Liberal Party nominated the lawyer and politician, Dr. Alejandro Audibert with Rosendo Carísimo for vice president. The Colorado Party chose Emilio Aceval with Andrés Hector Carvallo for vice president. On September 25 Aceval and Carvallo were elected, and they were inaugurated on November 25.
      Emilio Aceval was born on 16 October 1854. He fought in the war as a teenager, was wounded, and got a good education. He became president of the Banco Nacional, and in 1888 he organized the Sociedad Colonizada del Paraguay. President Aceval followed Egusquiza’s example and promoted harmony among the parties. He kept on José Segundo Decoud as Foreign Affairs Minister. He appointed José Urdapilleta as Finance Minister, Guillermo de los Ríos to be Interior Minister, Dr. José Cominos as Minister of Justice, and the caballerista Juan Antonio Escurra for Minister of War.
      The bubonic plague came from Argentina in November 1899, and quarantines were imposed that prevented trade. By 1899 Paraguay’s population had increased to 535,000 plus about 100,000 Indians. On 12 March 1900 Decoud resigned, and Aceval replaced him with the Civic Liberal Fabio Queirolo. Urdapilleta resigned in late June, and Francisco Campos became Finance Minister. General Egusquiza in October went to talk with Brazil’s President Manoel de Campos Salles.
      Most Radical Liberals refused to vote in the elections on 24 February 1901, and only one Radical won a seat in Congress. Civic Liberals criticized the Colorados for promising to support Liberals and then secretly opposing them.
      President Aceval established the Public Debt Administration, had public funds deposited in the Banco Agricola, initiated the Internal Revenue Office with a collector general, and he persuaded Congress to adopt the metric system on 1 January 1901. He supported agriculture, improved and built roads, bridges, and harbors, and he set up a National Council of Hygiene in the Interior Ministry. Decoud was elected a senator, and Juan Cancio Flecha was appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs. After struggling with a poor economy the Finance Minister Campos resigned on August 16, and Aceval appointed young Fulgencio R. Moreno who had been the director of the Colegio Nacional and of the Post Office and Telegraphs. In 1901 Paraguay had 25,247 students enrolled in public schools. Asunción had 205 teachers for 5,147 pupils while the rest of Paraguay had 547 teachers for 20,100 students.
      The Colorados chose the Interior Minister Guillermo de los Ríos as their candidate for president, and he resigned to campaign. Escurra wanted to name the successor and a Minister of Justice. Aceval filled the positions and asked Escurra and Moreno to resign. General Egusquiza volunteered to be War Minister. Escurra invited to dinner two officers who backed Egusquiza and then imprisoned them.
      On 9 January 1902 at 6 in the morning Escurra asked President Aceval to come to the barracks to discuss his resignation. Escurra had the cavalry escort Aceval. He refused to sign his own resignation, and he was escorted into a cell. The Caballero manifesto was published, and they ordered Vice President Carvallo to summon a special session of the Congress. The generals Caballero, Escobar, Escurra, Moreno, and Senator Fleytas took control. Only 8 senators and 17 deputies were in the chamber that day, and most were armed with knives, sword canes, and pistols. Carvallo announced that he had a manifesto and a letter from the revolutionary committee. They said that Aceval was not fit to be President and must be deposed. Senator Fleytas read the manifesto aloud that said that Aceval was selfish and weak. They chose four men to study the documents for 15 minutes, and then they began debating never mentioning the reason for the coup which was to destroy the power of the egusquistas. As the arguments became heated, the president rang a bell. That triggered shooting and a brawl that killed Senator Facundo Insfrán and wounded General Caballero, three senators, and one deputy. Carvallo called them to order, and they unanimously approved the coup to give Carvallo “executive power.”
      The Radicals and the Cívicos reunited the Liberal Party. Egusquiza, Ferreira, and others found refuge in the Argentine legation along with Aceval and his family. Carvallo became the Acting President and appointed Fleytas the Interior Minister and Dr. Manuel Domínguez as Foreign Affairs Minister, José Irala at Justice, Moreno as Finance Minister, and Escurra remained as Minister of War. Dr. Cecilio Báez represented Paraguay at the Second Pan American Congress in Mexico, and he returned and was welcomed by thousands of people. Caballero, Escobar, and other Colorado leaders wanted to nominate Escurra and Domínguez as their candidates in the 1902 election. Liberal candidates resigned, and their party boycotted the election on August 24. The next day after a long illness Egusquiza died.
      Juan Antonio Escurra became President of Paraguay on 25 November 1902. His Vice President Manuel Domínguez was much more intelligent and better educated, though Escurra rarely took his advice. In his short inaugural address he described an ambitious agenda of lofty goals that were hardly attainable in the circumstances. He appointed a reasonable cabinet with Eduardo Fleytas as Interior Minister, Fulgencio Morena as Finance Minister, and Pedro Peña was recalled from being Minister to Brazil to be Minister of Foreign Affairs. Cayetano A. Carreras would be Minister of Justice, Religion, and Public Instruction, and Antonio Cáceres completed the cabinet as Minister of War. Criticism ruined Moreno’s financial program, and Escurra replaced him with Antonio Sosa. This and other changes relieved the Brazilians. Antolín Irala, who had a Brazilian wife, became the new Minister of Foreign Affairs, and the new Minister of Justice Francisco Chaves had a Portuguese parent. Sosa asked Congress to increase the paper money from about $14 million to $30 million, and the Congress raised it to $35 million. Several newspapers criticized this government, but Fleytas only closed down El Grito del Pueblo in June 1904.
      Manuel Duarte and Adolfo Soler began to plan a revolt, and in 1903 the Liberals set up two committees to direct strategy and tactics. General Ferreira led the Asunción committee which included Cecilio Báez, Dr. Emilio González Navaro, Emilio Aceval, the financiers Ríos, Campos, and Gaona as well as three young men including Duarte.
      On 4 August 1904 Duarte sailed the buque fantasma to La Plata to transport supplies and 300 men. On August 8 President Escurra declared a state of siege, and he ordered Captain Eugenio Garay to use the steamer Villa Rica with 150 infantry to intercept the Sajonia. Duarte’s ship helped the revolutionaries to capture Humaitá and Villa Pilar. Then he set up a military headquarters at Villeta. He picked up General Ferreira near Asunción and brought him back to Villeta. Liberal leaders began to organize a government by making Ferreira president. On August 15 he issued the Liberal manifesto that was written by Manuel Benítez.
      Vice President Domínguez wrote a manifesto that accused President Escurra of grafting in the purchase of supplies for the Army. On September 30 Domínguez went to the rebel headquarters at Villeta and joined the revolution. Escurra had 10,000 troops in Asunción. Ferreira and Duarte accepted the surrender of the garrison at Villa Hayes. Argentina prevented arms from getting into Asunción, and Escurra’s situation became desperate in November. He asked for a conference, and he with Cayetano Carreras and José Emilio Pérez met with Ferreira, Duarte, Soler, and an Argentine delegation on a ship at the mouth of the Pilcomayo River on December 12. Escurra agreed to resign in favor of Juan Bautista Gaona, a financial backer of the revolution. Carreras would remain as Justice Minister and Pérez as Interior Minister. Ferreira would become Minister of War and would reorganize the Army. The next elections would renew half the Congress, and Colorados would not contest them. Escurra was to disband all but two army battalions, and then Ferreira would enter the capital. He did so on December 18, and on the 24th the troops entered Asunción in triumph.

Paraguay & Liberals 1904-29

      The Liberal Juan Bautista Gaona became provisional President of Paraguay on 19 December 1904. He was the first of nine Liberals who would be President until 1912. Radicals led by Manuel Gondra and Captain Albino Jara were concerned that Civic Liberals controlled the new government and that they had retained Colorados in the cabinet and the Congress. The only Radical in the cabinet was Emiliano González Navero as Finance Minister. The Radical leader Gondra was sent to Rio de Janeiro as an ambassador. Adolfo Soler’s son Juan José and Antonio Taboado started El Liberal. Major Albino Jara had led the rebels, and he became the Minister of War and reorganized the Army with military zones.

       Eduardo Schaerer in El Diario criticized the new government, and he was made the director of the port. An investigation in September 1905 found that he misappropriated funds, and he had to resign. President Gaona vetoed a loan for a building project because it was not made from a bank he and his friends owned. When General Ferreira was out of town, Gaona dismissed González Navero, Carreras, and Pérez from his cabinet. Police Chief Elías García telegraphed Ferreira in Concepción. He returned, consulted Congress, and made Gaona resign on 9 December 1905. Cecílio Báez became Provisional President, and he appointed Adolfo Soler the Foreign Affairs Minister.
      The League of Independent Youth led by Carlos García was formed in April 1906, and that month the Liberals nominated Benigno Ferreira for president with Emiliano González Navero for vice president. The La Ley publisher Alejandro Audivert aimed a fierce personal attack against Ferreira that resulted in police closing down La Ley. Ferreira was elected on October 1, and he became President on November 25. Báez became Foreign Minister, and Manuel Benítez moved over to Interior Minister. Captain Duarte declined the War Ministry so that he could go to Europe to purchase weapons. Carlos García argued against Gomez Freire Esteves who edited the pro-government El Liberal. They fought a duel which killed García, and Esteves was sent to the embassy in Paris.
      In 1907 President Ferreira made sure that Bolivia recognized the Pinilla-Soler Protocol that supported Paraguay’s claim to one-fourth of the Chaco territory. García’s friends wanted revenge against the Cívicos. On 2 July 1908 Major Albino Jara led a coup attempt that took over the artillery barracks. After two days of fighting, President Ferreira resigned, let the Radicals take power, and left, never to return to Paraguay. Every member of the Radicals’ cabinet was born in the 1870s. Jara, son of Col. Zacarías Jara, became Minister of War, and he reorganized the Army. Jara made the Finance Minister Gualberto Cardús Huerta resign for having limited war spending. In 1908 an Argentine bank helped start the Banco de la República.
      Bernardino Caballero and Ferreira in Buenos Aires opposed the Radicals, and in February 1909 they planned a revolutionary cabinet with Col. José Gill as the War Minister, Benítez as Interior Minister, Soler as Justice Minister, and restoring Irala as Foreign Affairs Minister and Sosa as Finance Minister. They invaded Paraguay from Argentina, but Col. Jara’s forces defeated them near Laureles on September 14. That month military service became compulsory. Manuel Gondra was inaugurated on November 25, and the next day he appointed the cabinet that Jara demanded except that he chose Adolfo Riquelme to be Interior Minister. Riquelme opposed the PCRC railway system which had investment from General Ferreira. The Radicals negotiated with the Ferrocarril Trans-Paraguayo (FTP) railway that Brazil subsidized and the American Percival Farquhar owned. They planned to connect the border of Brazil to Asunción. Argentine interests opposed this, but Gondra signed the deal with Farquhar.
      On December 13 the Cívicos resigned from the government, and Colorados replaced them. President Gondra appointed Mario Usher as police chief in order to arrest Jara who on 17 January 1911 led the artillery to revolt, demanding that Gondra resign. Usher told Gondra that all the capital’s stations backed Jara, and Gondra resigned and left Paraguay.
      On January 19 Jara took over the presidency, and he appointed Cívicos and Colorados. On February 21 Riquelme and Major Medina began a revolt in Concepción. On March 7 about 2,000 government troops defeated some 800 partisans. Jara had Riquelme and eleven others executed, and he declared martial law on March 20. This made Jara unpopular because usually rivals were exiled. He let his Interior Minister Cipriano Ibañez make decisions. When people found out that Jara raped a woman, there was a riot. He left to be a diplomat. The government formed the Democratic Liberal Party, and Cecílio Báez accepted the leadership. They made the Senate president Liberato Rojas the Provisional President on July 6.
      In September another Radical revolt was planned in Buenos Aires by Manuel Gondra, Eduardo Schaerer, and José F. Montero. The Portuguese Manuel Rodrígues had invested in the Paraguayan Central Railway Company, and he loaned them 250,000 gold pesos for their war chest. The interest rate was so high that after Schaerer was elected, they repaid Rodrígues 2,219,247 pesos. Brazil recognized the Rojas regime, and their ship protected him when the Gondristas took over Asunción. His presidential guard arrested him on 27 February 1912, and the next day Pedro Peña became Provisional President for three weeks.
      The Radicals gained control as Colorado leaders departed on March 22. They made Emiliano González Navero a Provisional President for the second time. He transferred power to Eduardo Schaerer who was inaugurated for a four-year term on August 15. Vice President Pedro Bobadilla at 47 was the oldest Radical official. President Schaerer established the Department of Development to improve infrastructure, and he also worked to improve schools, the Civil Code, radio, and telegraph operations. During the Great War 1914-18 Paraguay exported much meat.
      On the first day of January 1915 Col. Manuel Duarte and Gómez Freire Esteves led another revolt. President Schaerer was captured on his way to the police barracks while his wife escaped to spread the alarm. The Cívicos agreed to terms. One year later the Liberal Party nominated Gondra’s friend Manuel Franco for president and Schaerer’s friend José P. Montero for vice president. They were inaugurated on August 15. The cabinet was divided between gondristas and schaereristas. Franco’s government reformed elections with secret balloting, universal suffrage, obligatory voting, and an “incomplete list” which increased the minority’s representation for the opposition in Congress. In May 1917 Congress granted amnesty so that Colorados, jaristas, and Cívicos could come back to Paraguay. The gondristas managed to replace War Minister Ernesto Velasquez with Emiliano González Navero in January 1918. That month Foreign Affairs Minister Gondra retired and was succeeded by the neutral Eusebio Ayala, a former law professor and journalist.
      President Franco died of a heart attack on 5 June 1919, and Vice President Montero became President and confirmed the existing cabinet. In June 1920 the Liberal Party nominated Manuel Gondra for president. He was not opposed and began his second term on August 15.
      President Manuel Gondra’s allies against the schaereristas who opposed him included Lisandro Díaz León in the Chamber of Deputies and the Interior Minister José P. Guggiari. On 29 October 1921 Schaerer demanded that Guggiari be removed. Gondra found refuge at the military school where the commander, Col. Manlio Schenoni, supported him. The War Minister, Col. Adolfo Chirife, refused to send his troops to arrest Schaerer, and he announced that the Army would be neutral while the politicians worked out their problems. President Gondra resigned on October 31 as he had done in January 1911. That made Vice President Félix Paíva the President. Because he was Schaerer’s political protégé, none in the cabinet would agree to serve under him. Only the Deputy Guillermo Sosa accepted a position as police chief. Paíva then resigned on November 7.
      Col. Chirife suggested that they form a government, or he would declare martial law. They chose the neutral Foreign Affairs Minister Eusebio Ayala who had served in the cabinets of Gondra and Schaerer. President Ayala retained Gondra’s cabinet, and the gondristas won most of the party’s elections for the directorate in May 1922. In both houses of Congress the Colorados and the schaereristas worked together to schedule elections for July 16. For several months Manuel Domínguez tried to persuade Col. Chirife to organize a coup. On May 22 Ayala vetoed the election bill, believing he had the right to complete the term. Congress then resolved to call on the Army to intervene in support of the Congress. War Minister Col. Chirife called up the Concepción and Encarnación garrisons to defend the Constitution. On May 29 Ayala reversed his veto.
      On June 9 Col. Chirife began the civil war by attacking Asunción. Col. Manlio Schenoni commanded the government’s troops, and they were supported by military school cadets, the navy, police, Army engineers, and gondristas in the citizens’ militia. President Ayala hoped for a peaceful resolution and declined to spend money on the military nor did he declare a state of siege. He sent emissaries to Schaerer and Chirife urging honorable terms. In March 1923 the rebels took over Villarrica. On April 12 the Congress appointed Eligio Ayala the President; he was not related to Eusebio Ayala. Col. Chirife caught pneumonia and died on May 18. On July 9 the rebels managed to invade the capital. The next day the government troops launched a counter-attack that caused rebels to flee across the river into Argentina while others surrendered.
      Provisional President José Eligio Ayala wanted to run for president, and he resigned on 17 March 1924 so that he could campaign. Luis Alberto Riart had been Finance Minister, Interior Minister twice, and Minister of War, and he was chosen to complete the term. José Eligio Ayala was elected and was inaugurated on August 15. He worked to balance the budget, and he reformed the Foreign Exchange Office that collected tariffs. In 1926 Congress passed a law that required the government to promote small parcels of land between six and twenty hectares. Manuel Gondra died in March 1927. By April about 2,000 Mennonites had settled in the Chaco territory. The Medical School of the National University was reorganized in 1928. That year the Mandioca (Cassava) crop was about 600 million kilos.
      Eligio Ayala tried to bring peace to Paraguay by guaranteeing fair elections and urging the Colorados to participate, and they agreed to run in the 1928 presidential election. The Liberal Party nominated José P. Guggiari. Eusebio Ayala supported Guggiari who won in a contested presidential election. Eligio Ayala was fair to political adversaries, but Guggiari would arrest and exile them. President Guggiari made Eligio Ayala the Finance Minister. Guggiari appointed Luis de Gasperi the Interior Minister and Eliseo Rosa the War Minister, and they would oppose him. Vice President Emiliano González Navero and Minister of Foreign Affairs Gerónimo Zubizarreta supported Guggiari.
      For several decades politicians in Paraguay believed in liberal principles of limited government, free enterprise and trade, and individualism. Some were concerned about the low wages of yerba mate workers. Two law professors, Adriano Irala and Juan Stefanich, had founded La Nación in 1925, and in 1928 they organized the Liga Nacional Independiente to prepare for war against Bolivia. On May 14 the Liga manifesto advocated humane working conditions, equal rights for women, abolishing child labor, protecting Indian tribes, agrarian reform for farm workers, modernizing schools, and a united nation. Wealthy Oscar Creydt and Obdúlio Barthe joined the Communist Party that was founded in February 1928. Juan Natalicio González led the young men who formed Club Republicano. Creydt was president of the University Student Federation, and Barthe helped found the libertarian commune at Encarnación in February 1931. Modesto Guggiari promoted Marxism and influenced modestistas who were led by Jover Peralta in the Chamber of Deputies.
      In July 1928 negotiations over Chaco with Bolivia were broken off, and on December 5 the Bahía Negra garrison commander Major Rafael Franco attacked Bolivia’s Fortín Vanguardia, drove out Bolivian troops, and burned the fort. Bolivians then captured two Paraguayan forts, and both sides began mobilizing their armies. The International Congress of American States on Conciliation and Arbitration at Washington met from December 10 to 5 January 1929, and on January 3 they decided that Paraguay was the aggressor and had to rebuild Fortín Vanguardia for Bolivians. Paraguay accepted this, and Colorados and Liga Nacional Independiente representatives resigned from the Council.

Paraguay of Chaco War & Coups 1930-35

       The former president Eligio Ayala was shot dead in a lover’s quarrel on 24 October 1930. Major Rafael Franco was transferred from Chaco to a camp outside Asunción, and he planned a coup against President José P. Guggiari and General Manlio Schenoni for March 19; but Major Arturo Bray betrayed the plot, and Guggiari dismissed Franco and Interior Minister Gasperi. In April 1931 soldiers at El Gapón in Chaco mutinied, and three men were killed in its suppression. Food and clothing had been drastically cut, and on April 14 Guggiari replaced War Minister Schenoni with the civilian Raul Casal Ribeiro. On September 7 Bolivians took over Paraguay’s fort at Samaklay, and the news was censored for about four weeks.
      On 23 October 1931 Juan Stefanich and Jover Peralta rallied students demonstrating in Asunción, and about 450 marched to the Presidential Palace. Soldiers fired rifles and machine guns at the mob, killing 11 and wounding 29. The city was put under martial law, and Major Bray’s police arrested and deported Stefanich, Natalicio González, Peralta, Major Franco, and Modesto Guggiari. Justo Prieto was Minister of Justice and Education, and he resigned, blaming President Guggiari for not meeting with student leaders. On October 25 he agreed to step down during the Congressional investigation. He was replaced by Vice President González Navero who began changing the cabinet. In the hearings from December 16 to 23 January 1932 one-sided testimony exonerated President Guggiari who resumed his presidency on January 28. By then the Liberal Party had nominated Eusebio Ayala as their candidate for president. He was not opposed and was easily elected.
      Eusebio Ayala was born on 14 August 1875, and he earned a law degree at the National University. He learned from German universities, heard lectures by Henri Bergson, studied economics and international law, and he was influenced by the works of Charles Darwin and Herbert Spencer. Eusebio Ayala was in the cabinet of every Radical Liberal government from 1912 until he was Provisional President from November 1921 to April 1923. He worked for peace and opposed war, and he was removed during the 1922-23 civil war.
      On 15 June 1932 Bolivians burned down the Fortín Carlos Antonio López at Pitiantutá Lake beginning the Chaco War. Eusebio Ayala opposed loans for a war, and in his inaugural address on August 15 he proposed suspending fighting and establishing a demilitarized zone. General José Félix Estigarribia was Paraguay’s commander-in-chief, and he complained that the Army lacked “everything” including men, units, arms, munitions, equipment, money, food, and medicine. General Estigarribia allowed no other generals.
      On September 7 Paraguay’s army of 7,500 men led by General Estigarribia besieged 448 Bolivians at Boquerón. A force of 3,500 Bolivians tried to relieve them, but they were driven back on the 12th. Finally on September 29 about 240 mostly wounded Bolivians surrendered. Bolivia lost 2,200 men killed, wounded, sick, and captured while the Paraguayans had 500 killed, 1,500 wounded, and a thousand who suffered from disease.
      Many in Paraguay’s military opposed President Ayala’s peaceful policy, and on 1 May 1933, to keep from losing his Army, he declared war against Bolivia. Paraguay had shorter and easier supply lines than mountainous Bolivia, and the Bolivian Army was nearly driven out of the Chaco territory. On December 19 they agreed to a 20-day truce while President Ayala asked the League of Nations to mediate a peace treaty. On 6 January 1934 the Bolivians renewed the war, and Paraguay’s troops continued to make progress. Bolivians at the end of 1934 tried to defend their headquarters in the south at Villa Montes; but after losing 200 troops 1,200 men surrendered on 11 January 1935. On February 7 about 5,000 Paraguayans attacked Villa Montes, but Bolivia’s cavalry pushed them back. Paraguayans suffered casualties as they advanced, and on April 25 they took 475 prisoners. On June 12 when Paraguay’s forces were only 15 kilometers from the Bolivian oil fields in Cordillera Province, a cease-fire led to an armistice on June 14. Paraguay’s Army in the Chaco War had about 140,000 men against the Bolivian Army that used about 250,000 troops. In the battles Bolivia had eight times as many men captured. During the war over 56,000 Bolivians were killed while Paraguay lost 36,000 soldiers. In addition about 70,000 civilians died.
      Col. Rafael Franco was called back from exile and given command of the Second Army which demobilized quickly. Franco was elected president of the Chaco War Veterans’ Association which had 100,000 members. President Eusebio Ayala was criticized for releasing the 17,000 captured Bolivians in exchange for the 2,500 Paraguayans. War costs were heavy, and Congress declined to provide pensions for the disabled. Yet they gave General Estigarribia a lifetime pension of 1,500 gold pesos per year.


1. Paraguay: An Informal History by Harris Gaylord Warren, p. 182.
2. Ibid., p. 188.
3. Paraguay and the Triple Alliance: The Postwar Decade, 1869-1878 by Harris Gaylord Warren, p. 27.
4. Ibid., p. 66.
5. Ensayo sobre el liberalismo paraguayo by Justo Pastor Benítez, p. 82-83 quoted in Rebirth of the Paraguayan Republic: The First Colorado Era, 1878-1904 by Harris Gaylord Warren, p. 274.
6. Paraguay and the Triple Alliance: The Postwar Decade, 1869-1878 by Harris Gaylord Warren, p. 197.      
7. Ibid., p. 216.
8. Rebirth of the Paraguayan Republic: The First Colorado Era, 1878-1904 by Harris Gaylord Warren, p. 52.
9. Ibid., p. 135.
10. Ibid., p. 77.
11. Ibid., p. 95.

Copyright © 2023 by Sanderson Beck

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Latin America & Canada to 1850

Brazil 1850-1935
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Chronology of Latin America to 1935
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