Belzu, Manuel Isidoro (1808–1865)

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Belzu, Manuel Isidoro (1808–1865)

Manuel Isidoro Belzu (b. 4 April 1808; d. 27 March 1865), president of Bolivia (1848–1855). Born into a poor artisan family in La Paz, Belzu was educated at the Franciscan monastery. At thirteen he ran away from the monks and joined an army fighting Spanish forces. He fought for various generals, including Agustín Gamarra of Peru and Andrés Santa Cruz, José Ballivián, and José Miguel de Velasco of Bolivia. He became minister of war in the Velasco government in February 1848.

Belzu seized control of the government in December 1848. Employing populist rhetoric, he was the first general to base his regime on the urban artisans and Cholos (people of mixed Indian and European heritage). Although he remained in power until 1855, when he "constitutionally" handed the presidency to his son-in-law, General Jorge Córdova, Belzu failed to consolidate control. He survived one assassination attempt in 1850 and forty-two revolutions against his authority. From 1855 to 1857, he represented Bolivia in Europe, where he remained until 1865. That same year he returned to Bolivia in order to prevent the assumption of power by Mariano Melgarejo, who had him assassinated.

See alsoBolivia: Since 1825xml .


Julia Díaz Arguedas, Los generales de Bolivia (rasgos biográficos) 1825–1925 (1929), pp. 431-439.

Herbert S. Klein, Bolivia: The Evolution of a Multi-Ethnic Society (1982), pp. 128-131, 133-135.

Oficina Nacional De Estadística De Bolivia, De siglo a siglo, hombres celebres de Bolivia (1920), pp. 85-89.

Fausto Reinaga, Belzu: Precursor de la revolución nacional (1953).

Additional Bibliography

Molina Céspedes, Tomás. Belzú, quien lo mató? Cochabamba: T. Molina Céspedes, Editora J.V., 2001.

                                Erwin P. Grieshaber

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Belzu, Manuel Isidoro (1808–1865)

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