Biography of Juan Bautista Idiarte (1844-1897)

Uruguayan politician, born in Mercedes in 1844 and died on August 25, 1897 in Montevideo, who was President between 1894 and 1897.


He was the son of vasco-franceses immigrants. He/She was elected several times as a member of the Colorado party lists and in 1890 agreed to the Senate. When that same year the general you Tajes decided to return power to civilians, it supported the candidacy of Julio Herrera y Obes. He/She was appointed President of the Republic of Uruguay in 1894, following the resignation of the President elected José Eugenio Ellauri, whose candidacy had supported Idiarte, but failed to take possession. The choice of Idiarte was long and difficult, since none of the proposed candidates obtained the necessary consensus for the majority of the votes of the senators. After 21 days and 40 votes, his candidacy, which was not among the proposals at the start of the session, obtained the necessary 47 votes. He/She tried to continue the policy of former President Julio Herrera y Obes, who had become one of his closest associates during his tenure (1890-1894).

He tried to boost the economic development of the country with the strengthening of communication routes, which built the national road - linking the main cities-took the railway to the town of Mercedes and sent to carry out the project for the construction of the new port of Montevideo. Idiarte arrangements were fundamental to hold the first exhibition of livestock and agriculture from Uruguay. The National Bank of the Republic (1896) was founded during his term. His performance earned him harsh criticism of the white party and from sectors of his own party led by Batlle y Ordóñez. His rivals was considered to be excessive favoritism that showed to his supporters, and that its policy guidelines moved away from the interests of the country.

In November 1896 his Government was about to fall because of a revolutionary movement that Aparicio Saravia stood at the head of a division of a hundred men. Idiarte slashed the freedoms of press and forbade newspapers to report on the situation, but political pressures forced him to lift the ban. Troops loyal to the Government were able to easily end the focus of rebellion. In March of the following year he/she had to face a new nationalist uprising, known as the white revolt led by the leaders of the white party, Aparicio Saravia and Diego Lamas. This hoist, much better organized and more support, became a serious threat to the stability of the country. The mutineers demanded the proclamation of a great presidential candidacy of national unity, and surrendered them the leadership of several police stations.

These requests were totally rejected by the President Idiarte, who sent the army to finish off the rebels. A sector of the white party, headed by general Muñiz, unreservedly supported the actions of the Government, while another, the led by colonels Pampillón and Saura preferred to stay on the sidelines. Government troops and those of Saravia and Lamas clashed five times: in Arbolio, in three trees, on Cerros Colorados, in white hills and Aceguá, but victory was not leaning toward either of the two contenders. The President sent several emissaries to reach a peace agreement, but all efforts ended in failure. Before the look that was taking the situation, his political rivals tried to reach an agreement with Lamas and Saravia without the knowledge of the Government.

The President was shot dead as he/she left mass, on the steps of the Cathedral of Montevideo, by Avelino Arredondo, Member of the Colorado Party, on August 25, 1897. The army, which was formed at the gates of the temple to render honors to the President, did nothing to prevent the assassination, which was a reflection of the strong opposition to his Government in all sectors of society in the country. After his death reached an agreement that returned peace to Uruguay.


PIVEL DEVOTO, J. J. HIstoria of the Republic East of the Uruguay. (Montevideo: 1945).

REAL DE AZUA, C. The Uruguayan patriciate. (Montevideo: 1963).