Ayala, José de la Cruz (1854–1892)

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Ayala, José de la Cruz (1854–1892)

José de la Cruz Ayala (b. 1854; d. 29 January 1892), Paraguayan politician, journalist, and social critic. Better known by his pen name "Alon," Ayala was a Liberal firebrand who helped crystallize resistance to the Bernardino Caballero and Patricio Escobar governments in the 1880s. Born in the interior town of Mbuyapey, Ayala witnessed the cruelties of Paraguayan politics as a child, when his father and older brother were assassinated in his presence. When he arrived in Asunción in 1877, he was already very much a confirmed rebel. He entered the Colegio Nacional, where he studied the Greek and Roman classics and received a bachelor's degree in 1882.

While at the colegio, Ayala cemented his friendship with the young historian Cecilio Báez, who encouraged him to enter the then booming field of journalism. Following Báez's suggestion, he wrote for several newspapers, including El Heraldo and La Democracia. His editorial pieces, published pseudonymously, attacked the government's policy of selling public lands to foreign entrepreneurs. More generally, he denounced the corruption that had seeped into every level of the Paraguayan body politic. Deeply offended by Ayala's stinging criticisms, President Caballero had him drafted and sent to an isolated army outpost in the Chaco. Ayala managed to escape and, from hiding, smuggled out a series of letters (tellingly entitled Cartas del infierno), which appeared in opposition dailies, vexing Caballero and Escobar still further. In 1891 Ayala momentarily came out of hiding to join the Liberals in a civil war, but he was forced to escape to Argentina, where he died one year later.


Harris G. Warren, Rebirth of the Paraguayan Republic: The First Colorado Era, 1878–1904 (1985), pp. 64, 73, 81.

Carlos Zubizarreta, Cien vidas paraguayas, 2d ed. (1985), pp. 205-207.

Additional Bibliography

Bordón, F. Arturo. La vida romántica de Alón, José de la Cruz Ayala, mártir de la democracia paraguaya. Asunción, 1966.

                                  Thomas L. Whigham

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Ayala, José de la Cruz (1854–1892)

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