Bonilla Chirinos, Manuel (1849–1913)

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Bonilla Chirinos, Manuel (1849–1913)

Manuel Bonilla Chirinos (b. 1849; d. 21 March 1913), president of Honduras (1903–1907 and 1912–1913). The offspring of poor country folk, Manuel Bonilla began his career as a soldier and Liberal partisan. He rose to brigadier general during Marco Aurelio Soto's regime (1876–1883) and served his party as commander during the 1892–1894 Liberal insurgency. After serving part of a term as vice president and minister of war, General Bonilla broke with the Liberal Party and went into exile.

In 1902 he formed the National Party to run for president in 1903. Although he received more votes than the other candidates, he did not receive a majority, and Congress gave the presidency to Juan Ángel Arias. General Bonilla responded by ousting Arias and installing himself as president. When dissident Liberal legislators, led by Dr. Policarpo Bonilla, challenged the régime, General Manuel Bonilla sent his chief of police, Lee Christmas, to arrest the congressmen and close the Congress. During his first administration, he rewrote the constitution, gave a decided push to education and the North Coast banana companies, submitted the Nicaraguan border dispute to international arbitration, and tried to form peaceful alliances with his Central American neighbors.

In late 1906, dissident Hondurans invaded Honduras from Nicaragua to topple President Bonilla. The rebels occupied Tegucigalpa in March, 1907, sending Bonilla into exile. Four years later, General Bonilla, backed by Samuel Zemurray, unleashed a counterrevolution on the North Coast. After U.S. diplomatic negotiation with the belligerents, an election was held, which Bonilla won (1912). He died the next year.

See alsoHonduras .


Aro Sanso (pseud., Ismael Mejía Deras), Policarpo Bonilla: Algunos apuntes biográficos (1936).

William S. Stokes, Honduras: An Area Study in Government (1950).

Lucas Paredes, Drama político de Honduras (1958), chaps. 21-30, 32.

Charles Abbey Brand, "The Background of Capitalistic Underdevelopment: Honduras to 1913" (Ph.D. diss., University of Pittsburgh, 1972).

Richard L. Millett, "Historical Setting," in Honduras: A Country Study, edited by James D. Rudolph (2d ed., 1984).

Additional Bibliography

O'Brien, Thomas F. The Revolutionary Mission: American Enterprise in Latin America, 1900–1945. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996.

                                                  Kenneth V. Finney