Juan Bautista Gill

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Juan Bautista Gill
Juan Bautista Gill Picture.jpg
President of Paraguay
In office
November 25, 1874 – April 12, 1877
Vice President Higinio Uriarte
Preceded by Salvador Jovellanos
Succeeded by Higinio Uriarte
Personal details
Born (1840-10-28)October 28, 1840
Asunción, Paraguay
Died April 12, 1877 (aged 56)
Villarrica, Paraguay
Nationality Paraguayan
Spouse(s) María Concepción Díaz de Bedoya

Juan Bautista Gill García (Juan Bautista Gill Garcia del Barrio) (October 28, 1840 – April 12, 1877) was President of Paraguay from November 25, 1874 to April 12, 1877.

He was born in Asunción. His parents were Juan Andres Gill and Escolástica Garcia del Barrio y Bedoya. He was the grandson of Don Juan Miguel Gill, a founding father and member of the Cabildo, who had Celtic blood. He was married to Maria Concepcion Diaz de Bedoya.

Personal life[edit]

Gill was born into a prominent family. In 1854 he traveled to Buenos Aires, Argentina where he pursued his secondary education and medical training, which he did not complete. He returned to Paraguay in 1863. When war was declared in Argentina, he enlisted in the 40th battalion, which comprised young men of high social position. Because of his knowledge of medicine, he was appointed to the military health division. He is believed to have been taken prisoner on December 30, 1868. According to historian Juan B. Gill Aguinaga he served in blood hospitals and was captured three days earlier in the battle of Ita Ybaté. In mid-January 1869, Gill was among those who returned to Asunción, where the allies freed him and the others on condition that they would not join the national army again.


He served as president of the Republic of Paraguay between November 25, 1874 and April 12, 1877. His cousin, Higinio Uriarte Garcia del Barrio, served as Vice President. His cabinet comprised Emilio Gill and Adolfo Saguier, who serving as Secretaries of Finance; Germán Serrano and Jose Urdapilleta, Secretaries of the Interior; Bernardino Caballero and Benjamin Aceval, Secretaries of Justice, Culture and Public Instruction; Patricio Escobar, Secretary of War and the Navy; and Facundo Machaín and Benjamin Aceval, as Secretaries of Foreign Affairs.

During his government he introduced paper currency, created the National College in the Capital and significantly increased taxes. On February 3, 1876, a treaty on boundaries, peace, trade and navigation was signed with Argentina. Through this Paraguay lost the Misiones territories, the southern part of the Paraná River, as well as some islands located in that river and the territories located between the Pilcomayo and Bermejo rivers, although the Chaco territory was saved.

He also adopted the Argentine Civil Code and, in order to stabilize the national economy, established the Tobacco Monopoly through the April 22, 1875 law. The government took charge of the exportation of this commodity for five years, prohibiting individuals from exporting or importing tobacco products. The same law was later enforced on soap and salt for a period of three years.

Gill's government, like that of his predecessors, was not spared revolutionary movements. A riot broke out in Caacupé, in December 1875, and was led by General Serrano, his former Interior Minister. The insurrection was supported by Brazilian forces, but was quelled with the death of Serrano and other rebels.

Other riots were carried out with the intention to overthrow the President, but were not effective, until an uprising which contributed to the start of a bloody civil war which began on May 27, 1922 and lasted for more than a year.

Political career[edit]

He was Finance Minister and Chairman of the Senate. On January 25, 1869, Gill participated in a meeting convened by Don Serapio Machain to interest the allied occupational forces in a petition project to establish a provisional government. Among those who attended that meeting were: Jose Segundo Decoud, Cayo Miltos, Carlos Loizaga, Juan A. Jara and Salvador Jovellanos. Gill was accused of misusing funds, and the Senate dismissed him, but in response Rivarola dissolved the Congress. As the instigator of a series of insurgences, he accompanied a successful revolution and returned to the portfolio of Finance. In 1874, he became president of the republic.


Gill's government was fraught with enemies. Economic failures and the non-implementation of emergency proposals aroused hatred in many who were around him.

Several conspiracies took root and flourished and general confusion reigned. One especially devious plot was planned by Don Juan Silvano Godoi, which involved murder. Though Godoi lay the groundwork, he moved away and left his brother Nicanor, to be responsible for carrying out the conspiracy.[1][2]

On April 12, 1877,[1] president Gill was travelling in the company of his two "edecanes" (high-ranking officers), down the Villarrica street (current President Franco). While crossing the Independencia Nacional, he was shot and knocked to the ground, where he died instantly. Among the criminals who fled the scene were Molas and Goiburu, as well as Nicanor, who immediately fled to Argentina, where he later died at the age of 94.[2] Thus, Gill was assassinated in broad daylight in the city's center.

The Colombian poet Dr. Prospero Pereira Gamba (1830–1896), who lived in Argentina as an exile, reflected on this tragic moment experienced by the president in his work "The Spectre".


  1. ^ a b Warren, Harris Gaylord (1985). Rebirth of the Paraguayan Republic: The First Colorado Era, 1878-1904. University of Pittsburgh Press. p. 6. ISBN 9780822976370. 
  2. ^ a b Churukian, Araxie P. "The Juan Sylvano Godoi Collection at the University of California, Riverside". Latin American Research Review 27 (1): 121–124. 

Preceded by
Salvador Jovellanos
President of Paraguay
Succeeded by
Higinio Uriarte