Francisco Solano Lopez
By Sara Hong

Francisco Solano Lopez, probably the most famous general in Paraguay known for the Triple Alianza War, was born in July 24, 1826 in Manora, Asuncion. He was the first child of Don Carlos Antonio Lopez and Juana Carrillo. He was only fifteen when his father was successful in the public life after the death of dictator Francia, Paraguay's first dictator. Lopez had a pampered childhood because of his successful father, and so achieved a decent education. He studied with the argentine master Juan Pedro Escalada and then with the Jesuit Bernardo Parés.

His visit to Europe later on was one of the most important events in his life; it certainly was the most impacting. First of all, he learned French and English during his visit and perfected those languages there. He bought military supplies to organize a project of building a railroad in Paraguay. He became to admire Napoleon III during his stay there and also fell in love with the Irish woman Elisa Alicia Lynch, also called "La Lynch" and brought her back to Paraguay with him. She was his mistress and first lady until his death. Lynch was a woman of intelligence, strong-willed, and attractive and whose relationship with Lopez made her a person who influenced Paraguay greatly.

After his trip to Europe, Lopez returned to Paraguay and became Minister of War. Lopez's father made him commander of chief of the Paraguayan army when Lopez was only eighteen. Although his father made him a general, Lopez achieved his way toward colonel then commander of the expeditionary body during the Alianza time to the Corrientes province. Once his father died, he immediately became the government's vice president. Soon after, he became president for ten years.

During his presidency, Brazil refused to his demand of abandoning her armed interference with Paraguay. The furious Lopez seized a Brazilian merchant and threw him into prison with the Brazilian governor who was on board. After that, he invaded Mato Grosso and seized its capital Cuiabá and took its possession and its diamond mines. Lopez then wanted to send an army to Uruguay passing Argentina. However, the Argentinian president, Bartolomé Mitre, refused to let Lopez's troops pass through its territory. This ignited the war with Argentina at the same time Paraguay was in war with Brazil. The congress urgently met and named Lopez marshal with extraordinary powers. He declared war on April 13, 1865. On May 1, Brazil joined Uruguay and Argentina in a secret alliance (the treaty of the Triple Alliance) against Paraguay and agreed with each other they would prosecute the war until Paraguay's existing government would be overthrown until no arms or elements of war should be left to it. This agreement was literary carried out.

Lopez was and is still considered as an ambitious and arrogant general. His stubbornness made him not surrender to these countries and some even conspired against him. When he learned about the conspiracies he executed several hundred of the chief Paraguayan citizens, including his brothers and brothers-in-law, cabinet ministers, judges, prefects, military officers, bishops and priests, and nine-tenths of the civil officers, together with more than two hundred foreigners, among them several members of the diplomatic legations. López was at last driven with a mere handful of troops to the northern frontier of Paraguay, where, on the April 1st 1870, he was surprised by a Brazilian force and killed as he was trying to escape by swimming the river Aquidaban.

 

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