Latorre, Lorenzo (1840–1916)

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Latorre, Lorenzo (1840–1916)

Lorenzo Latorre (b. 28 July 1840; d. 18 January 1916), military leader and president of Uruguay (1876–1880). Latorre was the country's strongman after the uprising of 1875. His dictatorship from March 1876 until his resignation in March 1880 initiated the militarist period. The son of an immigrant warehouse-keeper, he began his military career as a soldier in Venancio Flores's Colorado revolution and, later, as a professional soldier fought in the War of the Triple Alliance (1865–1870) against Paraguay. The Blanco caudillo Timoteo Aparicio's civil war between 1870 and 1872 created a power vacuum. The government that ruled until 1875 was one of cultured professionals, but lacked support from the military and the dominant economic groups—factors that provided the conditions for the establishment of militarism.

Latorre's program responded to the interests of the rural upper classes and to those of the financial and commercial classes who supported the gold standard and resisted the introduction of paper currency. His administration saw the escalation of fencing on the ranges that had begun in 1872, the reform of the Rural Codes, which tended to guarantee landownership and order in rural areas, and the extension of the authority of the army and the police. It sought balance in fiscal matters and guaranteed the continuation of the gold standard. Latorre was granted constitutional legitimacy in 1878.

Upon his resignation in 1880, Latorre was replaced by Francisco A. Vidal, president of the Senate. In 1882 another military leader, General Máximo Santos, assumed control of the government. Latorre, who settled in Buenos Aires after his resignation, was taken by surprise by a decree of permanent exile issued by the new dictator. Another military leader, Máximo Tajes, succeeded Santos and began the slow transition to civilian government.

See alsoMilitary Dictatorships: 1821–1945; War of the Triple Alliance.


Enrique Méndez Vives, El Uruguay de la modernización (1977).

Alberto Zum Felde, Proceso histórico del Uruguay, 5th ed. (1967).

Additional Bibliography

Allende, Alfredo. Lorenzo Latorre, el estadista: La construcción del estado uruguayo (1876–1880). Montevideo: Editorial El Galeón, 2003.

Nahum, Benjamín. Latorre y los ingleses: La reanudación de las relaciones diplomáticas entre Uruguay y Gran Bretaña, 1878–1879. Montevideo: Ediciones de la Banda Oriental, 1996.

                                 Fernando Filgueira