Herrera y Obes, Julio (1841–1912)

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Herrera y Obes, Julio (1841–1912)

Julio Herrera y Obes (b. 9 January 1841; d. 6 August 1912), Uruguayan politician and journalist, president of Uruguay (1890–1894). Herrera y Obes came from a prestigious family of professionals affiliated with the Colorado Party. He served as secretary to General Venancio Flores in the War of the Triple Alliance in 1865. He was minister of foreign affairs in 1872, representative to the national Parliament (diputado) from 1873 to 1875, and minister of government from 1886 to 1887 in the constitutional government of General Máximo Tajes. He was the principal inspiration behind the transition to civilian democracy from the militarism of Colonel Lorenzo Latorre and General Máximo Santos. Elected president in 1890, Herrera y Obes immediately faced a serious financial crisis during which various banks failed, including the National Bank. He overcame the crisis by a consolidation of debts arranged in Great Britain and by maintaining the gold standard in Uruguay. These moves later brought enormous advantages for Urugayan public finance. A man of refined culture and from a wealthy landowning family, he represented an era of civil elitism in which little faith was placed in the idea of people governing themselves. He brought before the Parliament the notion of "directive influence," in which the president would be involved in all the actions of his administration.

Herrera y Obes was a romantic personality, for decades the beau of Elvira Reyes. He began visiting her by carriage in his days of splendor and ended as an old man taking the tramway to see her in her Prado villa. He retained his prestige among elite members of his party until the end of his days, but when he died, President José Batlle y Ordóñez denied him funerary honors. The term "oligarchic democracy" is used when referring to this period because the idea of "directive influence" implied the involvement of the president in the designation of his own successor.

See alsoUruguay, Political Parties: Colorado Party .


Enrique Méndez Vives, El Uruguay de la modernización (1975).

Luis Melián Lafinor, Apuntes para la biografía del doctor Julio Herrera y Obes (1920).

Raúl Montero Bustamante, Estampas (1942).

Washington Reyes Abadie, Julio Herrera y Obes, el primer jefe civil (1977).

Additional Bibliography

Altesor, Homero. Cronología filosófica del Uruguay. Montevideo: Indice, 1993.

                                  JosÉ de Torres Wilson

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Herrera y Obes, Julio (1841–1912)

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