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Ybycuí, site of a major foundry and industrial smithy in mid-nineteenth-century Paraguay. Established by President Carlos Antonio López in 1850, as part of a major program of military and state economic expansion, the foundry of Ybycuí (or La Rosada) was well situated to take advantage of local iron deposits and sources of water. It was the only government-sponsored ironworks in South America at the time, and has since become the subject of much scholarly inquiry as a possible example of internally generated industrialization.

Work at the foundry was directed by foreign engineers contracted by López. The labor force was made up of convicts, slaves, some free workers, and, after the beginning of the War of the Triple Alliance (1864–1870), by prisoners of war. Operations at the foundry were often hampered by technical difficulties. Nonetheless, it did produce a substantial quantity of iron, much of which was for military use (especially for cannonballs and artillery pieces). This made Ybycuí a prime target during the fighting. In May 1869, it was raided by a roving Uruguayan cavalry unit, and a month afterward, Brazilian demolition teams dynamited what was left of the foundry. It was partially restored in the 1960s and now serves as a historical museum.

See alsoIron and Steel Industry; Weapons Industry.


Josefina Plá, The British in Paraguay, 1850–1870 (1976).

Thomas Lyle Whigham, "The Iron Works of Y bycuí: Paraguayan Industrial Development in the Mid-Nineteenth Century," in The Americas 35 (October 1978): 201-218.

Additional Bibliography

Cooney, Jerry W. and Thomas Whigham. El Paraguay bajo los López: algunos ensayos de historia social y política. Asunción, Paraguay: Centro Paraguayo de Estudios Sociológicos, 1994.

                                 Thomas L. Whigham