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General Carlos Quintanilla Quiroga (Cochabamba, Bolivia, January 22, 1888 – June 8, 1964) served as the de facto President of Bolivia from August 1939 until April 1940. Quintanilla saw action during the Chaco War of 1932–1935, and managed to ascend the echelon of the Bolivian armed forces until he became Commander of the Army during the administration of Germán Busch. When President Busch committed suicide on August 23, 1939, the Bolivian military entrusted Quintanilla with the role of assuming power and calling elections.

Carlos Quintanilla
44th President of Bolivia
In office
23 August 1939 – 15 April 1940
Preceded byGermán Busch
Succeeded byEnrique Peñaranda
Personal details
Carlos Quintanilla Quiroga

22 January 1888
Cochabamba, Bolivia
Died8 June 1964 (aged 76)
Cochabamba, Bolivia
Military service
AllegianceBolivia Bolivia
Branch/serviceLogo del Ejército de Bolivia..jpg Bolivian Army
RankArmy Commander
Battles/warsChaco War


Prior to the electionEdit

It is certain that Quintanilla, like many of his fellow officers, was weary of the reckless reformist wave unleashed by the "Military Socialist" Toro and Busch regimes of 1936–1939, and wanted a return to the pre-war oligarchic status quo, complete with its faults and relative stability (not to mention rewards for those who collaborated with the economic powers that be).

Political unityEdit

If the military was weary, the politicians from the traditional (oligarchic) parties were downright scared, having witnessed the mobilization of the masses behind "extremist" programs that boded ill for the continuity of their liberal, laissez-fair agenda. The 1930s had been extremely turbulent politically, with the formation of many new parties of Socialist, Communist, anarchist, and reformist persuasion, all calling for the end of the established order. It was time to unite all the old parties (which now realized how much they had in common and how minor their differences were) behind a single candidate, to present a monolithic front to the gathering forces of reform and revolution. Eventually, they all settled on General Enrique Peñaranda, the controversial commander of the Bolivian forces during the second half of the Chaco War. How the "Genuine Republican" faction of former President Salamanca (who had died in 1935) could reconcile itself with supporting the very man who had overthrown the Commander-in-Chief in the middle of a war seems incomprehensible, but this is a testament to the fear of losing power that now guided all the actions of the old-style parties.


To ensure Peñaranda's victory, the Quintanilla government exiled a number of prominent opposition leaders, real and potential, including the popular Bernardino Bilbao.

Peñaranda won the elections and in 1940 General Quintanilla left the Palacio Quemado bound for Rome, where he served as the Bolivian ambassador to the Holy See. Quintanilla died in his native Cochabamba on June 8, 1964, at the age of 76.


  • Mesa José de; Gisbert, Teresa; and Carlos D. Mesa, "Historia De Bolivia", 5th edition.
Political offices
Preceded by
Germán Busch
President of Bolivia
Succeeded by
Enrique Peñaranda