Gondra, Manuel (1871–1927)

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Gondra, Manuel (1871–1927)

Manuel Gondra (b. 1 January 1871; d. 8 March 1927), Paraguayan scholar, statesman, and president (1910–1911, 1920–1921). Manuel E. Gondra's varied and distinguished career in education, the military, diplomacy, and politics established him as one of Paraguay's leading public figures of the twentieth century. Born of an Argentine father and Paraguayan mother, Gondra was educated in the schools of Asunción and the Colegio Nacional. It was at the Colegio Nacional that Gondra later built a reputation as a highly effective educational reformer. Entering public life in 1902, he served as Paraguay's minister to Brazil (1905–1908) before being elected president in 1920. Confronting escalating political violence, Gondra resigned within a year of assuming the presidency.

During the ensuing decade, Gondra served as minister of war, reorganizing Paraguay's army and clarifying his nation's legal claim to the disputed Chaco region. While serving as Paraguay's minister in Washington in 1920, Gondra was again elected to the presidency. He fell victim to civil strife once again, however, and resigned his office after only fifteen months. Achieving more as a statesman than as a politician, Gondra was awarded his greatest recognition for his sponsorship of a treaty to prevent war among the American states at the Fifth International Conference of American States at Santiago, Chile, in 1923. For this initiative, Gondra was lauded by the Pan-American Union soon after his death in 1927. An accomplished scholar, Gondra owned one of the finest libraries in South America. His collection, containing 7,283 books, 2,633 pamphlets, 20,000 pages of manuscripts, and 270 maps, is now housed in the Benson Collection at the University of Texas.

See alsoEducation: Overview; Gondra Treaty (1923); Paraguay: The Twentieth Century.


C. E. Castañeda and J. Autrey Dabbs, "The Manuel Gondra Collection," in Handbook of Latin American Studies 6 (1940): 505-517.

Arturo Bray, Hombres y épocas del Paraguay (1943), esp. pp. 152-159.

Harris Gaylord Warren, Paraguay: An Informal History (1949), esp. pp. 265-278.

Michael Grow, The Good Neighbor Policy and Authoritarianism in Paraguay: United States Economic Expansion and Great-Power Rivalry in Latin America During World War II (1981).

Additional Bibliography

Amaral, Raúl. Los presidentes del Paraguay (1844–1954): Crónica política. Asunción: Centro Paraguayo de Estudios Sociológicos, 1994.

                                        Daniel M. Masterson