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José María Linares

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José María Linares

José María Linares

José María Linares Lizarazu (July 10, 1808 – October 23, 1861) was president of Bolivia from 1857 to 1861. He was born in Tical, Potosí, on a farm. Belonging to the noble and wealthy family of the Counts of Lords and House of Rodrigo in Navarre, Linares was related to the Spanish nobility. He was educated at the Royal and Pontifical University of San Francisco Xavier, in Sucre.

Political career

Early in his life, Linares gravitated toward the world of politics, earning a number of administrative appointments in various governments. In 1839 he was called by the new president, General Velasco, to take charge of the portfolio of the Interior. After this Linares was appointed Minister to Spain, where he negotiated the treaty that recognized Bolivia's independence. Serving as president of the Senate, in 1848 he was briefly called (in Velasco's temporary absence) to take provisional charge of the executive. Soon thereafter, he became leader of the so-called Partido Generador (Generator Party), which advocated democracy, civilian control of politics, and a return of the Bolivian military to its barracks. This earned Linares the mistrust of most governments of the time (which were de facto), and a few stints in exile. Nevertheless, he became the country's most important civilian and constitutionalist leader, with a growing following.

President of Bolivia

In 1857, Linares came to power at the head of a pro-civilian military coup d'état, a novelty in the country. Indeed, save for a couple of brief and minor exceptions, he can be said to be the first civilian president of Bolivia. Having toppled General

Unable to remain in power by other means, in 1858 Linares did the unthinkable: he proclaimed himself "Dictator for Life", ruling by decree and by the force of arms—paradoxically, in order to restore order and eliminate all coups in the future. It was a contradiction of everything he had always purported to stand for, and predictably he became quite

Stamp of Bolivia issued in 1897 with his portrait.
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