Mariano melgarejo

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  • Publicado : 12 de mayo de 2010
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Military career and presidency
A career military officer from the department of Cochabamba, Melgarejo slowly climbed the hierarchy of the armed forces, aided by his sycophancy, willingness toparticipate in rebellions, and feats of personal valor. Having participated in an 1854 military revolt against long-time dictator Manuel Belzu, Melgarejo was tried for treason but pardoned, as he had beggedfor his life and blamed alcohol for his participation in the ill-fated coup. Belzu would come to rue having spared Melgarejo's life. General Melgarejo originally supported the Linares dictatorship(1857-61) and then combatted on behalf of the rebellious General José Maria de Achá, who became President in 1861. Predictably, in December 1864 he rose up against Achá and, prevailing against both theforces of Achá and former President Belzu (then struggling to return to power himself), proclaimed himself President of Bolivia. As Belzu contiunued to control part of the country and army, Melgarejosought him and, by most accounts, murdered him personally. As legend had it, at the time a pro-Belzu crowd was reunited in Bolivia's central square, opposite the Palace of Government, chanting "vivas"to the former President. At that point, Melgarejo emerged onto a balcony with Belzu's corpse and proclaimed "Belzu is dead. Who lives now?" To which the crowd is said to have replied -- perhapspredictably -- "Long Live Melgarejo!"
Having installed himself in the Government Palace, Melgarejo proceeded to rule with more incompetence than any Bolivian leader in his time. He ruthlessly suppressedthe opposition and assaulted the traditional rights of the country's indigenous population. Melgajero worked on behalf of a new mining elite in Bolivia, during a period of resurgent silver productionand investment from Chile, Peru, North America, England and European capitalists (Klein, 136). His "sexenio" is among the most tragic in the history of Bolivia, both for his repression and his...
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