Bustamante y Guerra, José (1759–1825)

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Bustamante y Guerra, José (1759–1825)

José Bustamante y Guerra (b. 1759; d. 1825), Spanish naval officer who served as captain-general and governor of Uruguay (1795–1810) and Guatemala (1811–1818). Bustamante distinguished himself in Spain's North African campaign in 1774 and was a member of the Malespina expedition that circumnavigated the globe between 1784 and 1791. He became governor of Uruguay in 1795 and later commanded Spanish naval forces in the Río de la Plata. He was transferred to Guatemala in 1811, where he served as captain-general until 1818. Unsympathetic to the Cádiz Constitution of 1812, Bustamante delayed implementing its reforms in Guatemala and concentrated instead on insulating Central America from the revolutionary events occurring in Mexico. He became notorious in Central American history for authoritarian rule, especially after the restoration of Ferdinand VII of Spain in 1814.

Although Bustamante subdued several revolts and maintained the loyalty of Central America when much of the rest of the Spanish Empire was in rebellion, his draconian policies stimulated animosities among the creoles and sentiment for independence, which erupted soon after his departure. He became director-general of the Spanish Navy in 1819 and died six years later in a shipwreck en route to Buenos Aires.

See alsoCaptain-General: Spanish America .


Eduardo Cárdenas, 20,000 biografías breves (1963).

Mario Rodríguez, The Cádiz Experiment in Central America, 1808 to 1826 (1978).

Additional Bibliography

Hawkins, Timothy. José de Bustamante and Central American Independence: Colonial Administration in an Age of Imperial Crisis. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2004.

                                 Sue Dawn McGrady