Bernardino Caballero

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Bernardino Caballero
Bernardino Caballero.jpg
9th President of Paraguay
In office
Preceded byCándido Bareiro
Succeeded byPatricio Escobar
Personal details
Born(1839-05-20)20 May 1839
Ybycuí, Paraguay
Died26 February 1912(1912-02-26) (aged 72)
Asunción, Paraguay
Known forFounding the Colorado Party

Juan Bernardino Caballero de Añasco y Melgarejo (20 May 1839, Ybycuí, Paraguay – 26 February 1912, Asunción)[1] was a Paraguayan War veteran, the President of Paraguay from 1880 until 1886 and founder of the Colorado Party. He was the leading political figure in Paraguay from early-post-war period until the Liberal revolution of 1904.

Early life[edit]

Born in Ybycuí, Caballero was a descendant of Spanish nobility, the son of Jose Ramón Caballero de Anazco (a descendant from Túpac Huallpa through Inca Garcilaso de la Vega) and his wife Melchora Inés Melgarejo y Genés. Married twice, to María de la Concepción Díaz de Bedoya and to Julia Álvarez. From the first marriage he had two children, Ramon Caballero de Bedoya, married to Martha Cahen, and had issue, and Melchora Caballero de Bedoya, married to her distant cousin Carlos Francisco Saguier Pereira. Outside of his marriages he had a further 90 children, all formally recognized by him, and thus today he has myriad descendants.

Military service[edit]

Caballero joined the Paraguayan Army in 1864 and fought in the Paraguayan War.[2]:75 He participated in the Mato Grosso Campaign. Later he became the assistant of President Francisco Solano López in Humaitá and remaining loyal, rose through the ranks. He became an increasingly important leader of rearguard actions, eventually becoming a cavalry general. Caballero was the greatest living war hero, who was captured by Brazilians on April 8, 1870 near the Apa river after the Battle of Cerro Corá and released in May 1871.[3] During his arrest he became friendly with Brazilians and their political and military support was instrumental later, during his political career.

Post-war politics[edit]

Caballero returned to Asuncion and become involved in the politics, joining the Lopez loyalist faction led by Cándido Bareiro. He was one of the leaders of March and June 1873 revolts and January 1874 revolt against the politically powerful Benigno Ferreira who was forced to go into exile in February 1874. Because of his growing influence, Caballero was made Interior minister in the government of Salvador Jovellanos. In November 1874 Caballero was appointed Minister of Justice, Worship and Education under the new President Juan Bautista Gill.[4] Together with Vice President Higinio Uriarte he was sent to London in 1874-75 to clarify the situation with financial loans.

After the death of Juan Bautista Gill in 1877, he helped to ensure that his political ally Cándido Bareiro was elected to the Presidency.

The coup of 1880[edit]

On September 4, 1880, after the death of Candido Barreiro his Vice President was arrested by the Minister of War and Navy Pedro Duarte. Sagier was then asked to sign his resignation. On the same day Paraguayan Senate met and elected Caballero to the Presidency. Thus, after the short presidencies of politically stronger Gill and Bareiro, the leader of 1873-74 rebellions had come to power.


During his rule he Civil Register was established, city of Villa Florida founded, General Department of Immigration created. In June 1881 Banco Nacional and private Bance del Paraguay were established.[5] During his presidency much of the land previously owned by state and the ruling Lopez family was sold off in order to raise money.

Later political life[edit]

Caballero rigged the 1886 Presidential election to ensure the victory of his close ally Patricio Escobar.[citation needed] In response, his political opponents founded the Liberal Party and two months later Caballero founded the ruling Colorado Party. From 1887 to 1904 as a former President he was also member of Paraguayan Senate.

Caballero maintained a large degree of control as he remained commander of the army and Colorado Party. His favored candidates controlled the country until 1894, when Juan Bautista Eguzquiza overthrew Juan Gualberto González. Caballero helped to organize another coup in 1902, putting Juan Antonio Escurra in power, but after Escurra's overthrow by the Argentine Army, the Liberals took power.

Caballero is remembered as one of the greatest Paraguayan political leaders[by whom?] and is buried in the National Pantheon of the Heroes. The Paraguayan town of General Bernardino Caballero is named after him.


  1. ^ – Birth date Archived 3 September 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ Hooker, T.D., 2008, The Paraguayan War, Nottingham: Foundry Books, ISBN 1901543153
  3. ^ Historical Dictionary of Paraguay
  4. ^ Historical Dictionary of Paraguay
  5. ^ Rebirth of the Paraguayan Republic: The First Colorado Era, 1878-1904

Further reading[edit]

  • Warren, Harris G. (1985). Rebirth of the Paraguayan Republic: The First Colorado Era. University of Pittsburgh Press. pp. 51–61. ISBN 978-0-8229-3507-0.
Political offices
Preceded by
Cándido Bareiro
President of Paraguay
Succeeded by
Patricio Escobar