Biography of José María Linares (1810-1861)

Politician and Bolivian lawyer, born in Potosi in 1810 and died in Valparaiso (Chile) in 1861. He ruled dictatorially the Republic of Bolivia between 1857 and 1861.

He belonged to the linajuda family, of Spanish origin, of the counts of Casarreal. He studied law and, since his youth, he held important public positions. He participated as a lawyer in the commissions that drafted the Bolivian legal codes. He was Minister of the Interior and Minister Plenipotentiary at the Court of Madrid between 1840 and 1841 and, as such, was responsible for signing the Treaty that recognized the Bolivian independence. Their opposition to the movement of national regeneration forced him into exile in Spain in 1841. Seven years later he was able to return to Bolivia and was elected President of the Congress.

He supported President José Miguel de Velasco general Manuel Isidoro Belzú. To the overthrow Velasco in 1848 by a military coup led by Belzu, Linares was again forced to leave Bolivia. He settled in Argentina, where he promoted some insurrectionary adventures against the regime of Belzu.

Following the withdrawal of this in 1855, it was able to return to Bolivia. He presented his candidacy for the Presidency of the Republic, elections, which seemed in principle to grant him a clear victory, were adulterated by the belzistas, but Jorge Córdoba, Belzu's son-in-law, was proclaimed President. On September 8, 1857, Linares was put at the head of the insurrectional movement that he deposed Cordoba after two years of dictatorial rule. Cordoba was an expatriate and Linares recognized as President.

With his rise to power ended the period belzista of Bolivian history. His was the first civil government which met Bolivia since its independence. His Government aroused great expectations. The country needed deep reform that ended with internal disorder and stabilize the chaotic economic situation. But Linares, who had emerged as the champion of political change, abandoned all their promises as soon as was vested power. In March 1858 he established a dictatorial regime, appealing extraordinary powers under the pretext of imposing his reformist programme against sectors of the army and the clergy opposed to the. The most outstanding feature of its mandate was the ferocious persecution of political dissent and brutal violence against the popular insurrection that erupted against his Government to the length and breadth of the country. He lost the support of the oligarchies that had aupado him to power, and being already seriously ill, he was overthrown by a coup led by his own colleagues, Minister Fernández of Acha and Colonel Sánchez. He was replaced as President by a triumvirate provisional and expatriate. Established in the Chilean city of Valparaiso, where he died at the age of 51.