Gabriel Terra

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Gabriel Terra
Gabriel Terra in 1913.
President of Uruguay
Personal details
Born August 1, 1873
Died September 15, 1942(1942-09-15) (aged 69)
 Uruguay, Montevideo
Nationality Uruguayan
Political party Colorado Party
Spouse(s) María Marcelina Ilarraz Miranda
Alma mater Universidad de la República
Occupation Politician, lawyer

Dr. Gabriel Terra Leivas (August 1, 1873 – September 15, 1942) was the President of Uruguay from 1931 to 1938.


Born in Montevideo to a wealthy family, he graduated from the University of Uruguay in 1895, and subsequently joined the faculty.

He began his career as a member of the Colorado Party under his predecessor as president, José Batlle y Ordóñez in a number of government roles. From 1925 he was the minister for Industry and Employment.

His nephew Horacio Terra Arocena served as a Senator.[1] His great-nephew Juan Pablo Terra served as a Deputy and a Senator.

President of Uruguay[edit]

After being selected to lead the country by the congress in 1930, he came to power in 1931. He suspended the congress in 1933, and disbanded the National Council of Administration, special body set up in 1919 to provide checks and balances. This was soon followed by the total abolition of the constitution, and the merger of state powers with the presidency. He produced a new constitution in 1934 and he put himself up for election, and was elected under a shroud of suspicion.[citation needed]

Terra predominantly ruled harshly and by diktat, put in jail university professionals, or isolated them on an island, “Isla de Flores” his political opponents, but continuing most of the socialist reforms begun by his predecessor. He brutally suppressed a revolt against him in 1935. Particularly after 1933, Terra was tellingly closer politically to his nominal National Party (Uruguay) opponent Dr. Luis Alberto de Herrera than he was to many of his Colorado Party (Uruguay) colleagues.[2]

Terra's interior minister was Alberto Demichelli, who much later was himself to become President of Uruguay as an interim measure in 1976. Demichelli's wife, Sofía Álvarez Vignoli de Demicheli, was noted for her diplomatic activity during Terra's Presidency.[citation needed]

Terra's Vice President was César Charlone, who served from 1934 to 1938.[citation needed]

Terra was noted for bringing into his government former opposition figures such as Martín Echegoyen, who himself later became President of Uruguay and, like Alberto Demicheli subsequently participated prominently in the civilian-military rule which took office under Juan María Bordaberry after 1973.[citation needed]

He broke off relations with the USSR and the Spanish Republic, while he met Roosevelt and Britain regarding his debts to them. Later he made a close friendship with Hitler and Mussolini who lent him a loan with no return to construct the “Rincón del Bonete Hydro Dam and Power Plant”.[citation needed]

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Preceded by
Juan Campisteguy
President of Uruguay
Succeeded by
Alfredo Baldomir