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Gelly, Juan Andrés (1790–1856)

Gelly, Juan Andrés (1790–1856)

Juan Andrés Gelly (b. 1790; d. 1856), Paraguayan diplomat and author. Born in Asunción, Gelly left at an early age to complete his education at the Real Colegio de San Carlos in Buenos Aires. After the Platine states gained their independence, he became involved in the Argentine civil wars as a partisan of Manuel Dorrego and the Unitario Party. With the defeat of that party in the late 1820s, Gelly left Argentina. Instead of returning to Paraguay, where the dictator José Gaspar Rodríguez de Francia had already persecuted his family, Gelly went to Montevideo to continue his legal studies. He soon became a well-known figure in expatriate circles.

Gelly made his way back to Paraguay after Francia's death in 1840. Overcoming his initial suspicion of Gelly's intentions, President Carlos Antonio López decided to call him into government service. Gelly's considerable experience in Uruguayan journalism made him an obvious choice for editor of the new state newspaper El Paraguayo Independiente.

In 1846 Gelly was dispatched to Rio de Janeiro to negotiate a boundary and trade agreement with the Brazilian Empire. Though this agreement was stillborn, he remained in Brazil as agent and publicist for the Paraguayan government. During his stay, he wrote a laudatory account of Paraguay's progress under López, entitled El Paraguay, lo que fue, lo que es, y lo que será (1848). Acting as delegation secretary, he later accompanied the president's son, Francisco Solano López, on a mission to Europe (1853–1854). He died in Asunción two years later.

See alsoDorrego, Manuel; Francia, José Gaspar Rodríguez de; Unitario.


R. Antonio Ramos, Juan Andrés Gelly (1972).

Carlos Zubizarreta, Cien vidas paraguayas, 2d ed. (1985), pp. 139-140.

                                 Thomas L. Whigham

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