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Rivera Cabezas, Antonio (1784–1851)

Rivera Cabezas, Antonio (1784–1851)

Antonio Rivera Cabezas (b. 1784; d. 8 May 1851), a radical liberal leader in early independent Central America. Born in Guatemala City to a prominent creole family, Rivera was a lawyer by profession. He also served as an officer in the colonial militia and as a member of the diputación provincial (regional council) established by the Cortes of Cádiz in 1812. A signer of the declaration of Guatemalan independence on 15 September 1821, Rivera was allied politically with radical liberals (fiebres) Pedro Molina and José Francisco Barrundia and was a member of the Mexican Congress during Agustín de Iturbide's empire.

After Central America separated from Mexico (1 July 1823), Rivera became a member (substituting for Manuel José Arce, who was in the United States), with Molina and Juan Vicente Villacorta, of the triumvirate that directed the United Provinces of Central America. He was its provisional president from 9 July to 4 October 1823, served as jefe político of Guatemala in 1824, and then held the post of intendant of El Salvador. Known for his witty political satire in the press, he edited El Melitón in 1825. Elected lieutenant governor of Guatemala in 1829, Rivera became its governor from 9 March 1830 to 10 February 1831 after the legislature pressured Governor Pedro Molina to resign. During his brief administration, he launched anticlerical reforms, established schools (including Lancastrian model schools in Quezaltenango and Guatemala City), worked for judicial reform, and established a highway department. Francisco Morazán defeated him in the 1830 Central American presidential election, but he served as Morazán's finance minister in 1835 and as a district judge in 1832 and 1837. After the 1839 conservative victory, he went into exile and conspired with Pedro Molina against the Guatemalan conservatives.

See alsoBarrundia, José Francisco; Central America, United Provinces of; Iturbide, Agustín de; Molina, Pedro; Morazán, Francisco.


Ernesto Bienvenido Jiménez, Ellos, los presidentes (1981), includes a detailed biographical sketch. See also Manuel José Arce, Memoria (1831); Alejandro Marure, Efemérides de los hechos notables acaecidos en la República de Centro-América desde el año 1821 hasta el de 1842, 2d ed. (1895); and Julio C. Pinto Soria, Centroamérica, de la colonia al estado nacional (1800–1840) (1986).

Additional Bibliography

Bardales B., Rafael. Morazán, defensor de la unión de Centroamérica. Tegucigalpa: Editorial Universitaria, 1983.

                                Ralph Lee Woodward Jr.

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