Birthday: July 24, 1827
Died At Age: 42
Sun Sign: Leo
Also Known As: Francisco Solano Lopez
Born in: Asunción
Famous as: Former President of Paraguay
Spouse/Ex-: Eliza Lynch
father: Carlos Antonio López
Died on: March 1, 1870
place of death: Battle of Cerra Corá
Francisco Solano Lopez was the president of Paraguay from 1862 to 1870; he is widely held responsible for instigating the ‘War of the Triple Alliance’. Born to a politically active family, he had a pampered childhood and was appointed a Brigadier General at the age of 18. Upon the death of his father—the first President of Paraguay—he seized control of the country and quickly established his own supremacy with the help of the army. During his initial years as the president, he continued his father's domestic policies but was later overwhelmed with foreign affairs. He became entangled in a civil war raging in Uruguay, which involved the two South American giants, Brazil and Argentina. He allowed himself to be drawn into the boundary disputes and as a result of complicated diplomatic intrigues, found himself at war with both countries. Meanwhile, the Uruguayan government was toppled and the new government shifted its allegiance to Brazil. This new development resulted in the alliance of Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay against Paraguay in 1865 which led to the ‘War of the Triple Alliance’, also known as the Paraguayan War. Paraguay faced heavy losses and massive destruction in the war which went on for several years, and Lopez was killed at the hands of Brazilian soldiers. Despite his over-ambitious and aggressive nature, he is celebrated as Paraguay’s leading hero, a true patriot who fought with utmost bravery until his last breath to protect his country
Childhood & Early Life
Francisco Solano López was born on July 24, 1827, in Manorá, a barrio of Asunción, Paraguay, to Carlos Antonio Lopez, who later became the first President of Paraguay in 1841.
In 1844, his father commissioned him as a Brigadier General in the Paraguayan Army when he was just 18.
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In 1853, Francisco Solano Lopez was posted in Europe as the officiating minister to Great Britain, France, and the Kingdom of Sardinia. During the Crimean War, he served as a foreign military observer in Europe, spending most of his time in Paris where he purchased large quantities of arms and military supplies on behalf of the Paraguayan military.
In 1855, he returned from Europe and was appointed as the Minister of War in his father's government. Two years later, he was elevated to the post of Vice President.
In 1862, after his father's death, he was unanimously declared as the President of Paraguay for a term of ten years. As president, he opted to continue most of the economic protectionism and developmental policies adopted by his father.
His ambition was to represent Paraguay as a dependable “third force” in the ongoing political and military rivalry between Argentina and Brazil. To succeed in this conquest, he formed an alliance with the President of Uruguay, Bernardo Berro.
Subsequently, he began a massive expansion and reorganization of his military. Under his reign, Paraguayan military grew to become the best-trained and most well-equipped force in the region.
In December 1864, he officially declared war on Brazil and dispatched a force to invade Mato Grosso. The force captured the town of Corumbá and took possession of the province and its diamond mines, together with an immense quantity of arms and ammunition.
When his forces tried crossing the Argentine soil to reach Uruguay to support the government of Atanasio Aguirre, they were denied permission to cross the intervening Argentine province of Corrientes. In April 1865, he declared war on Argentina, seizing two Argentine war vessels in the Bay of Corrientes.
Meanwhile the Brazilians had managed to overthrow Atanasio Aguirre as the President of Uruguay and had installed their ally, Venancio Flores, in his place. In May 1865, Brazil joined Argentina and Uruguay in signing the ‘Treaty of the Triple Alliance’ which stipulated that they should unitedly pursue war against Paraguay until the existing government of Paraguay was overthrown.
A great war ensued between the Paraguayan forces and the troops of the Triple Alliance, which lasted until March 1870. The war was carried on with great aggression and Lopez's position increasingly weakened over the years.
In 1868, when the allies were pressing him hard, he became convinced that his Paraguayan supporters were plotting a conspiracy to defeat him. Thereafter, he ordered execution of several hundred prominent Paraguayan citizens, including his family members, cabinet ministers, military officers, bishops and priests and many others.
On March 1, 1870, the enemy forces badly wounded him and he died struggling with the soldiers who were trying to disarm and capture him. His death marked the end of the war of the Triple Alliance.
To date, he is considered to be a great Paraguayan national hero and his remains are located at the ‘Panteon de los Heroes’ in Asunción.
Personal Life & Legacy
During the time he spent in Paris, Francisco Solano Lopez fell in love with an Irish woman, Elisa Alicia Lynch, who later became his mistress. Famous by the name of ‘La Lynch’, she bore him five sons, although the two never married.
Lynch had an influential personality and helped him in carrying out important political decisions regarding Paraguay. She buried Francisco Solano Lopez with her own hands after he was killed in battle in 1870 and died penniless after some years in Europe.
Francisco Solano Lopez is regarded as a patriot who fought till his last breath for Paraguay. He is often portrayed as a tragic figure caught in a web of Argentine and Brazilian duplicity. He is much respected for standing against his enemies heroically for five horrific war years until he was killed and Paraguay was finally defeated.