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Billinghurst, Guillermo Enrique (1851–1915)

Billinghurst, Guillermo Enrique (1851–1915)

Guillermo Enrique Billinghurst (b. 1851; d. 1915), Peruvian populist president (1912–1914), heir to the dictatorial tradition of civilian caudillo Nicolás de Piérola. Born in Arica to a family whose wealth originated in the nitrate business, Billinghurst supported, financially and politically, Piérola's forceful actions to become president.

In 1894–1895 Billinghurst financed Piérola's forces fighting a civil war against General Andrés Cáceres. Following Piérola's success in 1895, Billinghurst became first vice president and president of the Chamber of Senators. In 1898 he was in charge of negotiating a settlement over the Chilean-occupied territories of Tacna and Arica, which was turned down by the Chilean legislature. Failing to obtain official support due to Piérola's pact with the Civilista Party, Billinghurst lost the presidential elections of 1899. However, after reorganizing Piérola's former Democratic Party in 1908, Billinghurst became mayor of Lima (1908) and in 1912 was finally elected president of the republic. Attempting to establish stronger executive and protectionist changes, he faced a strong opposition by the Civilistas. When he tried to close the legislature in 1914, Billinghurst was ousted by a military coup led by General Oscar Benavides. Billinghurst died in Iquique.

See alsoPeru: Peru Since Independence .


Jorge Basadre, Historia de la Repú blica del Perú, vol. 8 (1964).

Steve Stein, Populism in Peru (1980).

Additional Bibliography

Gonzales, Osmar. Los orígenes del populismo en el Perú: El gobierno de Guillermo E. Billinghurst, 1912–1914. Lima: [s.n.], 2005.

                                   Alfonso W. Quiroz

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