José María Linares

José María Linares Lizarazu (10 July 1808 – 23 October 1861) was a Bolivian lawyer and politician who served as the 13th president of Bolivia from 1857 to 1861.

José María Linares
José María Linares. de La Cruz Tapia, Juan. c. 1860, Legislative Palace, La Paz.png
Portrait by Juan de La Cruz Tapia, Palacio Legislativo, La Paz
13th President of Bolivia
In office
9 September 1857 – 14 January 1861
Preceded byJorge Córdova
Succeeded byJosé María de Achá
Minister of Interior and Foreign Affairs
In office
16 November 1839 – 10 June 1841
PresidentJosé Miguel de Velasco
Preceded byManuel María Urcullu
Succeeded byManuel María Urcullu
Personal details
José María Linares Lizarazu

Ticala, Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata (now Bolivia)
Died23 October 1861(1861-10-23) (aged 53)
Valparaíso, Chile
Spouse(s)Nieves Frías Gramajo
Parent(s)José Linares
Josefa Lizarazu
EducationUniversity of Saint Francis Xavier

Early life and educationEdit

He was born in Tical, Potosí, on a farm. Belonging to the noble and wealthy family of the Counts of Lords and House of Rodrigo in Navarre, Linares was related to the Spanish nobility. He was educated at the Royal and Pontifical University of San Francisco Xavier, in Sucre.

Political careerEdit

First positionsEdit

Early in his life, Linares gravitated toward the world of politics, earning a number of administrative appointments in various governments. In 1839 he was called by the new president, General Velasco, to take charge of the portfolio of the Interior. After this Linares was appointed Minister to Spain, where he negotiated the treaty that recognized Bolivia's independence. Serving as president of the Senate, in 1848 he was briefly called (in Velasco's temporary absence) to take provisional charge of the executive. Soon thereafter, he became leader of the so-called Partido Generador (Generator Party), which advocated democracy, civilian control of politics, and a return of the Bolivian military to its barracks. This earned Linares the mistrust of most governments of the time (which were de facto), and a few stints in exile. Nevertheless, he became the country's most important civilian and constitutionalist leader, with a growing following.

President of BoliviaEdit

In 1857, Linares came to power at the head of a pro-civilian military coup d'état, a novelty in the country. Indeed, save for a couple of brief and minor exceptions, he can be said to be the first civilian president of Bolivia. Having toppled General Jorge Córdova (Belzu's son in law), Linares legitimized his rule via the ballot box, when he was elected constitutional president by a large majority. Originally, his administration was one of the most energetic and honest that the country had seen. He introduced many reforms, and vigorously attacked the abuses that had crept into the public administration. Along the way, of course, he made many enemies, who in turn conspired against him. Rebellions and uprisings became the order of the day.

Dictator for Life and coupEdit

Stamp of Bolivia issued in 1897 with his portrait.

Unable to remain in power by other means, in 1858 Linares did the unthinkable: he proclaimed himself "Dictator for Life", ruling by decree and by the force of arms—paradoxically, in order to restore order and eliminate all coups in the future. It was a contradiction of everything he had always purported to stand for, and predictably he became quite unpopular. In January 1861, he was overthrown as a result of a coup sponsored by his own Minister of War, José María de Achá. Linares was then banished to Chile, where he died that same year.