Biography of Mariano Melgarejo (1818-1871)

Military and Bolivian politician, born in 1820 in Tarata (Cochabamba Department) and killed in Lima on 13 November 1871. President of the Republic during the period from 1864 to 1871, was another example of rulers known as "barbarian commanders," who stood out for his tyranny and eccentricity.

Probably abandoned by their parents, came at an early age into the army, only educational centre frequented. He/She fought in the wars of the Confederation and in the battle of Ingavi, and participated in numerous rebellions. As Sergeant 2nd, rebelled in Oruro against the Government of Velasco, made that earned him banishment to the regions of Huanay and the low. In 1853 he/she revolted again in Santa Cruz; He/She was captured and sentenced to death, and Belzu spared at the behest of among ladies, but not before warning that someday they would repent of it (in fact, years later Melgarejo kill Belzu). In 1858 he/she rebelled against Linares, and this, rather than running it, confined to San Matías, on the border with Brazil. During the Government of Acha, Melgarejo, with the bravery that gave him his almost constant state of drunkenness, launched the attack against the armies of Gregorio Pérez (who wanted to overthrow President Achá), and achieved a victory which allowed Acha to remain in power. In reward, and despite his repugnant past, Melgarejo was elevated to the rank of general. With the support of the oligarchy, it overthrew President Achá and took power on December 28, 1864, when they began a six-year period of dictatorial regime that was one of the more ominous that Bolivia has had in its history.

During his rule was decreed the use of the postage stamp and the metric system (although this would not apply but fifty years later). Established steam for coins minted in Potosí and irresponsibly increased the circulation of the feeble. This period gave the coincidence of the rise of the international price of guano and saltpeter, which meant a real economic revolution to the country, revolution that a regime of order and honestly would have been able to take advantage of with great results for the country. But it was so bad the management of those interests, the concessions made to companies foreign, with catastrophic consequences for Bolivia.

The Government of Melgarejo was devastating for Bolivia. He/She looted the Treasury, from the moment in which centralized the public funds in a single box that he/she was driving at its discretion; it abolished municipalities and decreed forced loans which were made effective with death threats. Soon the country that a wayward drunk dominated realized "with the Constitution in his pocket," as he/she used to say. The protests arose everywhere, but were crushed one by one by the force of an army that all excesses were allowed. The own Melgarejo executed, at the battle of stonework, the poet Néstor Galindo and other prominent intellectuals. Human life did not deserve any respect for him. I was drunk and orgy orgy with his closest collaborators, and his favorite concubine, Juana Sánchez, whose family took advantage of the funds of the country. It stripped of their lands to indigenous communities, self-serving, and of their friends, for which issued, on May 20, 1866, a decree that stated owners of their land to the Indians, provided they follow a legal formality and paid twenty-five pesos. Since the Indians not learned of the Decree, and if they came to find out, were not able to execute the imposed conditions, their properties were awarded in a public auction, so favorite of the tyrant could obtain them in Exchange for meagre sums. During the robbery, which took effect with the national army, were true massacres of Indians.

In international politics was with a humiliating servility, diplomats and foreign powers. It occurred to him to declare that every citizen of the Spanish America, it was also of Bolivia, with which named Minister of Bolivia in Chile to Chilean Aniceto Vergara Albano, which drafted the Treaty between Bolivia and Chile for the covered ground joint exploitation between 23 ° and 25 °, which meant the beginning of the loss of its outlet to the Pacific for Bolivia. Also it gave in to the pretensions of Brazil to sign the Treaty on March 27, 1867, by which Bolivia ceded to the large neighbouring country more than 300,000 km2, between the rivers Madeira and Paraguay, leaving the country without historical output which had inherited from the colony and Portugal had always respected.

After numerous attempts of overthrow, on January 15, 1871 finally lifted the city of La Paz, with the support of Colonel Hilarión Daza, one of the pillars of the regime, and Melgarejo was defeated in a bloody battle in the streets of the capital which ended with the deaths of more than a thousand citizens. Melgarejo fled to Peru, where went poor and helpless, trying to recover something of how much that Sánchez had given to the family. But despised by his own concubine Juana, was killed by the brother of José Aurelio Sánchez. The history has given its verdict on the Government of Melgarejo, describing it as a shameful stain on the history of Bolivia.