Francia, José Gaspar Rodríguez de


Francia, José Gaspar Rodríguez de
(1766–1840)
   Dictator of Paraguay and key figure in Paraguay’s struggle for independence from Spain in 1810. Born in Asunción, Francia received training in theology and law before serving on the town council between 1807 and 1809. When Paraguay declared its independence from Spain, he took command of the ruling junta. He pushed Paraguay to break from Spain and to resist any effort by the independence forces in Buenos Aires to assert authority over his new country. His supporters granted him the title of “perpetual dictator” in 1816. He ruled in an idiosyncratic fashion until his death. He closed Paraguay’s borders and used his army and river patrols to prevent foreigners from entering the country. He stripped Spanish residents of most political and economic rights. He also promoted state-owned rural industries to generate revenue from a rigidly controlled export trading system.
   FURTHER READING:
    Williams, John Hoyt The Rise and Fall of the Paraguayan Republic, 1800-1870. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1979.
   DANIEL K. LEWIS

Encyclopedia of the Age of Imperialism, 1800–1914. 2014.

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