Eusebio Ayala
By Philip Im

Having led Paraguay through its Chaco War with Bolivia, Eusebio Ayala was Paraguay’s “President of Victory.” Apart from the two presidential terms of 1921-1923 and 1932-1936, Ayala served his country as a distinguished politician and minister throughout most of his adult life.1

Eusebio Ayala was born on August 14th, 1875 in Barrero Grande, Paraguay to Abdón Bordenave and Casimira Ayala, a young 19-year-old woman. After spending his childhood years at his birthplace, he moved to the capital city of Asunción in 1889. There, he attended college, the Colegio Nacional de la Capital in 1891 and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in sciences. He continued his studies at a Law School, the Facultad de Derecho, where he graduated with a Doctorate in law and social sciences in 1904. 2

Ayala formally officially joined Paraguayan politics on July 4th of 1908, and the governing assembly on August 15th of the same year. 2 During his career, he stood up for liberalism in politics and social systems. 1 His most distinguished years were from 1908-1925, marked by the various different ministers he served as, including Minister of Justice and Minister of External Relations. 2
Unexpectedly, he became President of Paraguay on November 7th, 1921, after Vice President Félix Paiva refused to continue governing in place of the former President. After a little over a year of governing, Ayala also gave up his position on April 12 of 1923. Years later, on January 17th, the Liberal Party chose him as their candidate and he once again took office on August 15, 1932. 2

Chaco War
Disputes between Paraguay and Bolivia over the sovereignty of the Chaco, an area of land lacking clearly defined borders, heightened in June of 1932. Having taken office during the time of the conflict, Ayala was given the responsibility of leading Paraguay through this violent time. He first sought to deal with Bolivia through peaceful means, much to the disfavor of the public, and members of his own party. Later, however, he changed course in his policy and turned to aggressive actions against Bolivia. He spoke of Paraguay’s rightful ownership of the Chaco by the “work of Nature” and of the “sacrifices necessary to serenely and firmly” defend the territory. He said that the “Bolivian threat” on their land, which “waged perpetual war against them,” would not be allowed. This led to the unification of his party and his nation, and Ayala won back the favor of both. 3

After having served his nation for the greater part of his life, Ayala moved to Buenos Aires, Argentina, were he died of a sudden, unexpected death on June 4 of 1942. 2

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