José Rodríguez de Francia
|Perpetual Dictator of Paraguay|
|Preceded by||Fulgencio Yegros|
|Succeeded by||Manuel Antonio Ortiz|
|Consul of Paraguay|
12 October 1813 – 12 February 1814
|Preceded by||Fulgencio Yegros|
|Succeeded by||Fulgencio Yegros|
|Born||6 January 1766|
|Died||20 September 1840 74) (aged|
|Alma mater||National University of Córdoba|
José Gaspar Rodríguez de Francia y Velasco (6 January 1766 – 20 September 1840) was a Paraguayan lawyer and politician, and the first dictator (1814–1840) of Paraguay following its independence from the Spanish Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata. His official title was "Supreme and Perpetual Dictator of Paraguay", but he was popularly known as El Supremo.
Paraguay, officially the Republic of Paraguay, is a country of South America. It is bordered by Argentina to the south and southwest, Brazil to the east and northeast, and Bolivia to the northwest. Although it is one of the only two landlocked countries in South America, the country has coasts, beaches and ports on the Paraguay and Paraná rivers that give exit to the Atlantic Ocean through the Paraná-Paraguay Waterway. Due to its central location in South America, it is sometimes referred to as Corazón de Sudamérica.
The Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata was the last to be organized and also the shortest-lived of the Viceroyalties of the Spanish Empire in America.
He is considered to be the chief ideologue[ by whom? ] and political leader of the faction that advocated for the full independence of Paraguay from the United Provinces of the Río de la Plata and the Empire of Brazil.
Independence of Paraguayde facto started on May 14 of 1811 after the Revolution of May 14 when a local ruling junta was created. In early 1811 Paraguayan forces had repeatedly defeated the Argentinian army which considered Paraguay to be a break-away province. On October 12, 1813 the Paraguayan Republic was proclaimed. Officially Independence was proclaimed only on November 25, 1842. Paraguayan independence was assured only after the Paraguayan War, when the Empire of Brazil resisted Argentine offers to divide and annex the country.
The Empire of Brazil was a 19th-century state that broadly comprised the territories which form modern Brazil and Uruguay. Its government was a representative parliamentary constitutional monarchy under the rule of Emperors Dom Pedro I and his son Dom Pedro II. A colony of the Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil became the seat of the Portuguese colonial Empire in 1808, when the Portuguese Prince regent, later King Dom João VI, fled from Napoleon's invasion of Portugal and established himself and his government in the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro. João VI later returned to Portugal, leaving his eldest son and heir, Pedro, to rule the Kingdom of Brazil as regent. On 7 September 1822, Pedro declared the independence of Brazil and, after waging a successful war against his father's kingdom, was acclaimed on 12 October as Pedro I, the first Emperor of Brazil. The new country was huge but sparsely populated and ethnically diverse.
Francia was born in Yaguarón, in modern-day Paraguarí. Francia's father was an officer turned tobacco planter from São Paulo, and his mother was a Paraguayan descended from Spanish colonisers. He was christened Joseph Gaspar de Franza y Velasco, but later used the more popular name Rodríguez, and changed Franza to the more Spanish Francia. Although his father was simply García Rodríguez Francia (Portuguese: Garcia Rodrigues França), the dictator inserted the article de to style himself "Rodríguez de Francia y Velasco".
Paraguarí is a city, distrito and capital of Paraguarí Department in Paraguay, located 66 km from the country's capital, Asunción. At the 2002 census it had a population of 22,154.
São Paulo is a municipality in the Southeast Region of Brazil. The metropolis is an alpha global city and the most populous city in Brazil, the Western Hemisphere and the Southern Hemisphere, besides being the largest Portuguese-speaking city in the world. The municipality is also the Earth's 11th largest city proper by population. The city is the capital of the surrounding state of São Paulo, the most populous and wealthiest state in Brazil. It exerts strong international influences in commerce, finance, arts and entertainment. The name of the city honors the Apostle, Saint Paul of Tarsus. The city's metropolitan area, the Greater São Paulo, ranks as the most populous in Brazil and the 12th most populous on Earth. The process of conurbation between the metropolitan areas located around the Greater São Paulo created the São Paulo Macrometropolis, a megalopolis with more than 30 million inhabitants, one of the most populous urban agglomerations in the world.
He studied at the monastery school of San Francisco, Asunción, originally in training for the Catholic priesthood, but never entered it. On 13 April 1785, after four years studying, he became a doctor of theology and master of philosophy at the College of Monserrat at the National University of Córdoba, 21 in what would soon become Argentina.:
Asunción is the capital and largest city of Paraguay. The city is located on the left bank of the Paraguay River, almost at the confluence of this river with the River Pilcomayo, on the South American continent. The Paraguay River and the Bay of Asunción in the northwest separate the city from the Occidental Region of Paraguay and Argentina in the south part of the city. The rest of the city is surrounded by the Central Department.
The National University of Córdoba, founded in 1613, is the oldest university in Argentina, the fourth oldest in South America and the sixth oldest in Latin America. It is located in Córdoba, the capital of Córdoba Province. Since the early 20th century it has been the second largest university in the country in terms of the number of students, faculty, and academic programs. As the location of the first university founded in the land that is now Argentina, Córdoba has earned the nickname La Docta.
Although he was dogged by suggestions that his father, a Brazilian tobacco exporter, was a mulatto, Francia was awarded a coveted chair of theology at the Seminary of San Carlos in Asunción in 1790. His radical views made his position as a teacher there untenable, and he soon gave up theology to study law. Eventually, he became a lawyer and learned five languages: Guarani, Spanish, French, Latin, and some English.
Mulatto is a term generally used to refer to people born of one white parent and one black parent, or from two mulatto parents. Although historically considered a factual, fair term of racial classification, in modern day, it is generally considered to be derogatory or offensive.
Guarani specifically the primary variety known as Paraguayan Guarani, is an indigenous language of South America that belongs to the Tupi–Guarani family of the Tupian languages. It is one of the official languages of Paraguay, where it is spoken by the majority of the population, and where half of the rural population is monolingual. It is spoken by communities in neighboring countries, including parts of northeastern Argentina, southeastern Bolivia and southwestern Brazil, and is a second official language of the Argentine province of Corrientes since 2004; it is also an official language of Mercosur.
During his studies, he was influenced by the ideas of Enlightenment and later the French Revolution. Francia was disgusted by Paraguay's class system imposed by Spain, and as a lawyer would defend the less fortunate against the affluent. A devotee of the Enlightenment and the French Revolution, a keen reader of Voltaire, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and the French Encyclopedists, Francia had the largest library in Asunción. His interest in astronomy, combined with his knowledge of French and other subjects considered arcane in Asunción, caused some superstitious Paraguayans to regard him as a wizard capable of predicting the future.
The Age of Enlightenment was an intellectual and philosophical movement that dominated the world of ideas in Europe during the 18th century, the "Century of Philosophy".
The French Revolution was a period of far-reaching social and political upheaval in France and its colonies beginning in 1789. The Revolution overthrew the monarchy, established a republic, catalyzed violent periods of political turmoil, and finally culminated in a dictatorship under Napoleon who brought many of its principles to areas he conquered in Western Europe and beyond. Inspired by liberal and radical ideas, the Revolution profoundly altered the course of modern history, triggering the global decline of absolute monarchies while replacing them with republics and liberal democracies. Through the Revolutionary Wars, it unleashed a wave of global conflicts that extended from the Caribbean to the Middle East. Historians widely regard the Revolution as one of the most important events in human history.
A casta was a term to describe mixed-race individuals in Spanish America, resulting from unions of European whites (españoles), Amerindians (indios), and Africans (negros). Racial categories had legal and social consequences, since racial status was an organizing principle of Spanish colonial rule. During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, European elites created a complex hierarchical system of race classification. The sistema de castas or the sociedad de castas was used in the 17th and 18th century in New Spain, a vast area of land starting just below Alaska stretching all the way to the Isthmus of Panama, plus the entire Caribbean, the Floridas and Spanish Philippines, to formally rank the mixed-race people who were born during the post-Conquest period. The process of mixing ancestries in the union of people of different races was known as mestizaje. In Spanish colonial law, mixed-race castas were classified as part of the república de españoles and not the república de indios, which set Amerindians outside the Hispanic sphere. Other terminology for classification is categorization based on the degree of acculturation to Hispanic culture, which distinguished between gente de razón and gente sin razón, concurrently existed and supported the idea of the racial classification system.
He demonstrated an early interest in politics. He became a provincial cabildo member in 1807, fiscal officer in 1808 and attained with difficulty the position of alcalde del primer voto, or head of the Asunción cabildo, by August 1809, the highest position he could aspire to as a criollo. 22 Other significant members included Fulgencio Yegros, Pedro Juan Caballero, Manuel Atanasio Cabañas and the last colonial governor, Bernardo de Velasco.He had tried before, in 1798 but failed because of his humble background. :
After the May Revolution in Buenos Aires, governor Velasco convened the Congress of province on 24 July 1810. Francia shocked the other members by saying it was irrelevant which king they had. When Paraguay's independence was declared on 15 May 1811, he was appointed secretary to the three-man ruling junta and included in the five-man governing junta by Congress meeting on 17 June 1811. On 1 August, he resigned because of the army's dominance over Congress. He retired to the countryside, where he spread rumours that the country was going to be betrayed by the incompetent government. He was one of the few men in the country with any significant education, and soon became the country's real leader. Only one other Paraguayan had a doctorate: Juan Bogarin, one of the five junta members.
From his retirement in his modest chacra (farm or country estate) at Ibaray near Asunción, he told countless ordinary citizens who came to visit him that their revolution had been betrayed, that the change in government had only traded a Spanish-born elite for a criollo one, and that the present government was incompetent and mismanaged. He returned to the junta in October on condition that Bogarin was removed, and resigned again on December 15. He did not return again until 16 November 1812, and then only if he was in charge of foreign policy and half the army.
Paraguayans often referred to him simply as "Dr. Francia" or Karaí Guazú ("great lord" in Guaraní). A few Indians meanwhile believed he had supernatural powers: when some saw him measuring the stars with his theodolite, they thought he was talking to night demons.Francia would later use it to straighten the streets of Asunción.
On 1 October 1813, Congress named Francia and Fulgencio Yegros as alternate consuls for a year, Francia taking the first and third four-month periods. Each controlled half the army. On October 12, 1813 Paraguay declared independence from the Spanish Empire.
In March 1814, Francia banned Spaniards from marrying each other; they had to wed Indians, blacks, or mulattoes. 39:
On 1 October 1814, Congress named him as sole consul, with absolute powers for three years. He consolidated his power to such an extent that on 1 June 1816, another Congress voted him absolute control over the country for life. For the next 24 years he ran the country with the aid of only three other people. According to historian Richard Alan White, these congresses were actually very progressive for the era; all men over 23 could vote for them. From 1817 he appointed cabildo members, but in 1825 decided to close it. 50:
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One Latin American scholar, Antonio de la Cova, summarised Francia's rule as follows:
"... we find a strange mixture of capacity and caprice, of far-sighted wisdom and reckless infatuation, strenuous endeavours after a high ideal and flagrant violations of the simplest principles of justice. He cut off Paraguay from the rest of the world by stopping foreign commerce, but carefully fostered its internal industries and agriculture under his personal supervision. Dr. Francia disposed to be hospitable to strangers from other lands, and kept them prisoners for years; lived a life of republican simplicity, and severely punished the slightest want of respect. As time went on he appears to have grown more arbitrary and despotic. Deeply imbued with the principles of the French Revolution, he was a stern antagonist of the church. He abolished the Inquisition, suppressed the college of theology, did away with the tithes, and inflicted endless indignities on the priests. He kept the aristocracy in subjection and discouraged marriage both by precept and example, leaving behind him several illegitimate children. For the extravagances of his later years the plea of insanity has been put forward."
Francia aimed to found a society on the principles of Rousseau's Social Contract ,and was also inspired by Robespierre and Napoleon. To create such a utopia, he imposed a ruthless isolation upon Paraguay, interdicting all external trade, while at the same time he fostered national industries.
Francia is often categorized[ by whom? ] as one of the caudillos of the post-colonial era, but he deviated from the authoritarian tendencies of most of his contemporaries. Instead, he attempted to reorganize Paraguay in accordance with the wishes of the lower classes and other marginalized groups. He greatly limited the power of the Church, as well as the landed elites, in favor of giving peasants a way to make a living on state-run estancias. While he is criticized by some scholars for being entirely against the Church, he was only trying to diminish the institution's all-encompassing political control. He actually built new churches and supported religious festivals using state funds. Francia's government also took over services usually under church supervision (e.g. orphanages, hospitals, and homeless care) in order to manage them more efficiently. Francia and his policies were, in fact, very well received by the majority of Paraguayans, excluding the small ruling classes, and his neutrality in foreign affairs kept peace in a period of turmoil.
In February 1820, Francia's political police called the Pyraguës ("hairy feet") uncovered and quickly crushed a plot by the elites and many leading independence figures to assassinate him. Juan Bogarin, the only conspirator still free, confessed the plot to his priest, then Francia. Francia arrested almost 200 prominent Paraguayans, executing most of them. On 9 June 1821, a letter detailing an anti-Francia conspiracy was found by two slaves, as well as Francia's priest, who had knowledge of the plot from the confessions of a conspirator. Francia had all 300 Spaniards arrested, and made them stand in the plaza whilst he read the letter out. They were only released 18 months later, when they had paid 150,000 pesos (by comparison, the 1820 budget was 164,723 pesos).The arch-conspirators, Fulgencio Yegros and Pedro Caballero, were arrested and imprisoned for life; Caballero committed suicide on 13 July 1821, and Yegros was executed four days later.
Francia outlawed all opposition, and established a secret police force. His underground prison was known as the 'chamber of truth', and most of Paraguay's manufactures were made with prison labour. He abolished flogging, but his implementation of the death penalty was brutal, as he insisted all executions be carried out at a banquillo ("stool") under an orange tree outside his window. So as not to waste bullets, most victims were bayoneted, while their families were not allowed to collect the corpses until they had been lying there all day, to make sure they were dead.
Many prisoners were also banished to Tevego, a prison camp 70 miles (110 km) away from any other settlements, surrounded by an endless swamp on the east, and by the Gran Chaco desert on the west. Upon his death, there were 606 prisoners in Paraguay's jails, :116 who were mainly foreigners.
In 1821, Francia ordered the arrest and imprisonment of famous French botanist and explorer Aimé Bonpland, who was running a private farm harvesting Yerba mate on the banks of the Paraná, seen to be a threat to the Paraguayan economy. Francia later granted Bonpland clemency because of his value as a physician, and allowed him to live in a house on the condition that he acted as a doctor to the local garrison
Francia believed the states of Latin America should form a confederation based on equality of nations and joint defence. 113He created a small but well-equipped army, equipped largely with the confiscated Jesuit arsenal. The size of the army varied compared to the magnitude of the threat. In 1824 for example, the army had over 5,500 troops, but in 1834, only 649. Francia deliberately misled foreigners into thinking that the army was over 5,000 strong, when in fact it rarely exceeded 2,000. He maintained a large militia of 15,000 as reservists. The first Paraguayan-built warship was launched in 1815, and by the mid-1820s, a navy of 100 canoes, sloops and flatboats had been built. People had to remove their hats when meeting any soldier; many Indians who could not afford headgear wore nothing but a hat brim so they could obey this rule. Cash could only be exported in exchange for arms and ammunition, and in 1832, 2000 muskets and sabres were imported from Brazil. :
While no wars were fought, there were disputes over Candelaria with Argentina. Francia initially abandoned it in 1815, then in 1821 built a fort on the border, followed by another one the next year, and a third in 1832. 110 In 1838, the army again occupied Candelaria, on the grounds that Francia was protecting the native Guaraní people living there.:
Paraguayan soldiers only saw action on the outposts of the frontier, which frequently came under attack from Guaycurú Indians. In 1823, Francia allowed Brazilian merchants to trade in Candelaria. Francia would spend most of the state's budget on the army, but soldiers were also used for labour on public projects.
Francia abolished higher education on the grounds that it was the nation's financial priority to fund the army, and that private study could be freely conducted in his library. Francia closed the country's only religious seminary in 1822, mainly due to the bishop's mental illness (and from his purge of the power of the Church). Nevertheless, he made state education compulsory for all males in 1828, but he neither helped nor hindered the private schools. Even after this, the pupil-teacher ratio grew and there were less illiterate, with one teacher to 36 pupils by 1825 according to Richard Alan White. In 1836, Francia opened Paraguay's first public library, stocked with books confiscated from his opponents.Books were one of the few duty-free items (munitions being another).
In October 1820, a plague of locusts destroyed most of the crops. Francia ordered a second harvest planted. It proved abundant, so from then on Paraguay's farmers planted two crops a year. Through the decade, Francia nationalised half the land in four stages. First he confiscated the lands of traitors, then clerics (1823), squatters (1825) and finally unused land (1828). The land was either run directly by soldiers for making their own supplies or leased to the peasants. By 1825 Paraguay was self-sufficient in sugar cane, and wheat was introduced. At the end of his life, Francia ruthlessly confined all the cattle at Ytapua to stop a plague spreading from Argentina until it died out.
Contrary to popular belief, Paraguay at the time was not completely isolated, Francia welcomed political refugees from various countries. José Artigas, hero of Uruguay's independence, was given asylum in 1820 along with 200 of his men. He stayed in Paraguay even after Francia's death on a pension of $30 a month.He was pursued by Francisco Ramírez, who saw one of his warships also desert to Paraguay. In 1820, Francia ordered that runaway slaves were to be given refuge and refugees from Corrientes were to have canoes and land. In 1839, a whole company of Brazilian deserters were welcomed. Many ex-slaves were also sent to guard the penal colony of Tevego.
In 1815 the Roman Catholic Church in Paraguay was declared independent of both Buenos Aires and Rome. Francia seized ecclesiastical properties, and appointed himself head of the Paraguayan Church, reminiscent of Henry VIII declaring himself Supreme Head of the Church of England. Pope Pius VII excommunicated him for doing so; Francia's reply on hearing this was: "If the Holy Father himself should come to Paraguay I would make him my private chaplain."
In mid-June 1816, all nighttime processions were banned except that of Corpus Christi . In 1819, the Bishop was persuaded to transfer authority to the vicar-general, while in 1820 friars were secularised. On August 4, 1820, all clergy were forced to swear allegiance to the state, and their clerical immunities were withdrawn. The four monasteries in the country were nationalised in 1824, with one later demolished and another becoming a parish church. The remaining two became an artillery park and barracks, while three convents also became barracks. He abolished the Inquisition, re-purposed confessional boxes as sentry posts, and had the hangings made into lancers' red waistcoats.
Francia had a very liberal view of sexuality. He made marriage subject to high taxation and restrictions, and insisted he personally officiate over all weddings. Francia kept a ledger of all the women he slept with, and despite having no close relationships he sired seven illegitimate children, the oldest being Ubalda García de Cañete. When he caught her prostituting herself outside his palace, he declared prostitution an honourable profession and that all whores should wear golden hair combs. They thus became known as " peinetas de oro" (gold combs) in order to humiliate Spanish ladies, as it was a Spanish fashion.[ citation needed ]
Francia took several precautions against assassination. He would lock the Palace doors himself, unroll the cigars his sister made to ensure there was no poison, prepare his own yerba mate, and sleep with a pistol under his pillow. Even so, a maid tried to poison him with a piece of cake.No one could come within six paces of him, or even bear a cane near him. Whenever he would go out riding, he had all bushes and trees along the route uprooted so that assassins could not hide; all shutters had to be closed, and pedestrians had to prostrate before him as he passed.
Francia lived a spartan lifestyle, and apart from some books and furniture, his only possessions were a tobacco case and a pewter confectionery box.Francia left the state treasury with at least twice as much money in it as when he took office, including 36,500 pesos of his unspent salary, the equivalent of several years' pay.
His reputation abroad was negative: Charles Darwin, for one, hoped he would be overthrown, though Thomas Carlyle (himself no friend to democracy) found material to admire even in the publications of Francia's detractors. He wrote in an 1843 essay that "Liberty of private judgement, unless it kept its mouth shut, was at an end in Paraguay", but considered that under the social circumstances this was of little detriment to a "Gaucho population ... not yet fit for constitutional liberty."
Francia imbued Paraguay with a tradition of autocratic rule that lasted, with only a few breaks, until 1989. He is still considered a national hero, with a museum dedicated to his memory in Yaguarón. It contains portraits of him and his daughter as well as his sweets box, candlestick and tobacco case.Paraguayan author Augusto Roa Bastos wrote an ambivalent depiction of the life of Francia, a novel entitled Yo el Supremo ( I, the Supreme ).
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| Consul of Paraguay |
| Consul of Paraguay|
Manuel Antonio Ortiz