Open main menu

José Pablo Torcuato Batlle y Ordóñez (May 23, 1856 – October 20, 1929) was an Uruguayan politician who created the modern Uruguayan welfare state by his reforms.

José Batlle y Ordóñez
José Batlle y Ordóñez
19th and 21st President of Uruguay
In office
1 March 1911 – 1 March 1915
Preceded byClaudio Williman
Succeeded byFeliciano Viera
In office
1 March 1903 – 1 March 1907
Preceded byJuan Lindolfo Cuestas
Succeeded byClaudio Williman
In office
5 February 1899 – 1 March 1899
Preceded byJuan Lindolfo Cuestas
Succeeded byJuan Lindolfo Cuestas
2nd and 5th Prime Minister of Uruguay
In office
1 March 1921 – 1 March 1923
PresidentBaltasar Brum
Preceded byFeliciano Viera
Succeeded byJulio María Sosa
In office
1 March 1927 – 16 February 1928
PresidentJuan Campisteguy
Preceded byLuis Alberto de Herrera
Succeeded byLuis Caviglia
Personal details
Born(1856-05-21)May 21, 1856
Montevideo, Uruguay
DiedOctober 20, 1929(1929-10-20) (aged 73)
Montevideo, Uruguay
Political partyColorado Party
Spouse(s)Matilde Pacheco
Amalia Ana
Ana Amalia

In 1898, for a few weeks he served as interim president and later was elected to the presidency for two terms, from 1904 until 1907 and from 1911 to 1915


Batlle family are some of the most prominent members of the Colorado Party. He was the son of former President Lorenzo Batlle y Grau. His children César, Rafael and Lorenzo were actively engaged in politics. He was the uncle of another Uruguayan President, Luis Batlle Berres and the great-uncle of President Jorge Batlle.

He was a prominent journalist, who founded El Día newspaper in 1886. Batlle used his newspaper as a political platform for criticizing his opponents and promoting his reformist agenda.

He served as the President of the Senate of Uruguay from 1899 to 1900, and in 1903.[1]


First termEdit

In 1904 Batlle's government forces successfully ended the intermittent Uruguayan Civil War which had persisted for many years, when the opposing National Party leader Aparicio Saravia was killed at the battle of Masoller. Without their leader, Saravia's followers abandoned their fight, starting a period of relative peace.

During Batlle y Ordóñez's term in office, secularization became a major political issue. Uruguay banned crucifixes in hospitals by 1906, and eliminated references to God and the Gospel in public oaths. Divorce laws were also established during this time. He led Uruguay's delegation to the Second Hague Conference and was noted for his peace proposals there.[2] Much of the time between his two terms Batlle spent travelling in Europe and picking up ideas for new political and social reforms, which he introduced during his second term.

Second termEdit

In 1913, Batlle proposed a reorganization of the government which would replace the presidency by a nine-member National Council of Administration, similar to the Swiss Federal Council. Batlle’s proposal for a collective leadership body was defeated in 1916 referendum, but he managed to establish a model in which executive powers were split between the Presidency and the National Council of Administration when a variant of his proposal was implemented with the Constitution of 1918.


During Batlle's second term, he began a new movement and referred to as Batllismo: concerted state action against foreign economic imperialism. During this time he fought for such things as unemployment compensation (1914), eight-hour workdays (1915), and universal suffrage. As President, Battle introduced a wide range of reforms in areas such as social security and working conditions.

All of this brought a great government involvement into the economy. Private monopolies were turned into government monopolies and tariffs were imposed on foreign products, including machinery and raw material imports. The growth of the meat processing industry stimulated the livestock industry, Uruguay's main source of wealth.


Education started a process of great expansion since the mid-to-late 19th century. It became the key to success for the middle class community. The state approved free high school education and created more high schools through the country. The university was also opened to women, and the enrollment increased throughout the country.

Later lifeEdit

Monument of Batlle in Montevideo

In 1920 Batlle killed Washington Beltrán Barbat, a National Party deputy, in a formal duel that stemmed from vitriolic editorials published in Batlle's 'El Día' newspaper and Beltrán's 'El País'.[3] His son Washington Beltrán would become President of Uruguay. He also served twice as Chairman of the National Council of Administration (1921-1923, 1927-1928).


A public park and a neighborhood in Montevideo are named after him.

There is also a town in Lavalleja Department named after him.

See alsoEdit


  2. ^ "A Basis for a League of Peace". The Independent. Jul 20, 1914. Retrieved August 21, 2012.
  3. ^

External linksEdit