History of Paraguay contra its Falsifiers: Chapter XII

History of Paraguay contra its Falsifiers: Chapter XII

The Battle Rages On…

On 17 June 1811, the Junta Superior Gubernativa a.k.a. Junta de Asunción was established. Don Bernardo de Velasco, the last Spaniard Governor of Paraguay and Misiones was sacked and a new government of Creoles and Mestizos was formed. In a certain way, this was still a legitimate rule that tried to follow the forms. Velasco ceded, without any violence (if we ignore his imprisonment on 9 June 1811) all the atributes of power to the new Junta and indeed, he was part of the Paraguayan First Junta, the «Triumvirate», contrary to what happened in Buenos Aires from where Don Baltasar Hidalgo de los Cisneros was simply expelled during the «May Revolution». In Paraguay, the «hermeneutics of reform in continuity» was taking place. In Buenos Aires, there was nothing but the «hermeneutics of rupture and revolution».

The main reason alluded by the Paraguayan Junta about the sacking of Governor Velasco was explained in a lengthy letter adressed to Don Carlos Martínez the Marquis of Irujo y Tacón (1765-1824), who was serving as the Spaniard Ambassador in Río de Janeiro. The «Próceres» claimed they removed Don Bernardo from his position as Governor of the First Junta (Triumvirate) because of his plan (alongside Governor Vigodet in Montevideo) of allowing the Portuguese Army to enter in the Spaniard Territories of the River Plate in order to impulse what we know today as the Carlotista Movement. With this attitude, he went completely against the instructions he recieved from the Marquis of Irujo himself. Hence, the Paraguayan Junta was simply following the orders given by the Marquis and arrested Velasco, who had no justification whatsoever, not even if that Carlotista Movement was to be done for «subjugating the revolutionaries of Buenos Aires». Then the «Próceres» rambled on with versions about the poor situation of the country under Velasco’s rule, his cowardice facing the Porteño Revolutionary Enemy and his utter refusal of entering in friendly terms with Belgrano and Buenos Aires (these lines were inspired by the «Porteñistas» in the Junta of Asunción). However, thanks to the influence of Dr. Francia (who just returned to the Junta after his first self-retirement), the Paraguayans declared once again their total allegiance to the Spaniard Crown and King Ferdinand VII while asking to the Marquis of Irujo for advise and counsel. [1]

From the «Próceres» of Buenos Aires, not a single document of a similar note, showing total obedience and allegiance to Spain in a direct and clear action, and with such a respectful tone towards a Spaniard Minster Envoy, was ever found. Quite contrary, the anglophile slave of liberalism and Secretary of the Junta Porteña, Don Mariano Moreno, in 1810 wrote to the same Marquis de Irujo y Tacón with bitter, insulting and scathing terms with an attack to the «Junta of Cadiz» while defending the «Junta of Buenos Aires» (coherence a-la-porteña some would say):

«Our peoples in America are enjoying the same privileges as the ones in Spain, our Junta couldn’t reprobate herself while recognizing their privilege, nor accept the denigrating and retrograde step back to the humilliating colonial state from which we were liberated in the face of the whole world…». [2]

An enormous difference between treasonous Buenos Aires and loyalist Paraguay!

That’s why everyone talks about the «Mask of Ferdinand VII» in Buenos Aires. The Porteños never wanted to remain loyal to Don Fernando VII. It was a charade, an absolute farce used to enforce the despotic Buenosairean Centralism and Unitarianism over the rest of the Provinces that were very loyal to the Spaniard Crown. When Don Cornelio de Saavedra, First President of the Junta of Buenos Aires, claimed to Don Baltasar Hidalgo de los Cisneros that the said Junta «… doesn’t want to follow the destiny of Spain nor doesn’t want to be ruled by France but to rule itself on its own, preserving their own rights and guarding themselves because the authority (of the Spanish Crown) no longer exists, so your own authority no longer exists…», he is simply expressing, with elegant words and total transparency, the undeniable reality: Porteños were far away from trying to remain loyal to the King of Spain. [3]

Another well known claim about a «cause for independence», as pushed forward by Porteño liberals and their Paraguayan servants, was the alleged imposibility of the Creoles and Mestizos of becoming part of the higher branches of government in the Provinces. But this, even if something of the kind started to take place under the Bourbon’s, was simply a lie that can be proven with very easy examples from the Paraguayan «Próceres» themselves: General Fulgencio Yegros was a high officer under Don Bernardo de Velasco and he even became Lieutenant Governor of Misiones; Captain Pedro Juan Caballero, being a very young man in 1811, was already a respected officer; José Gaspar de Francia phD. was a Judge of First Instance (Alcalde de Primer Voto) and Fiscal Procurator of the Exchequer (Procuador de la Real Hacienda) before becoming Deputy of the Cabildo; young 2nd Lieutenant (Alférez) Vicente Ignacio Iturbe was the Ensign of the City; Captain Mauricio José Troche was the first officer of the Barracks of La Rivera and Commander of the Curuguaty Platoon; Mariano Antonio Molas was a attorney and judiciary agent; Dr. Fernando de la Mora served as a public lawyer and Regidor (Council Member) of the City of Asunción; Father Francisco Javier de Bogarín was a respected priest and Antonio Tomás Yegros, brother of Fulgencio, also held a high military position before the Paraguayan Independence. So only by mentioning the past of the «Próceres» in Asunción, the propaganda impulsed by Buenos Aires about the so called «desprecio a los criollos y mestizos» (despise towards créoles and mestizos) is shown as what it is: just another blatant porteñista lie. [4]

Therefore, everything gets reduced to a whimsical and lunatic desire: the attempt of the liberal Porteños, mystified by the anglo masonic sects, of imposing their arbitrary will over all the provinces, no more and no less. But following the same logic exposed by Cornelio de Saavedra about the «extinction» of the Spaniard Royal Authority by the Napoleonic Invasion, if we consider that reasoning as a fact, the obvious question comes along: under what authority Buenos Aires could have claimed for itself the title of «Capital» and «Head» of the Provinces of the River Plate? An English idiom explains with striking equivalence the contradictory and nonsensical position of the Porteños: «you can’t have the cake and eat it too». After seeing this, it doesn’t matter how much authors like Ezcurra Medrano talk about the «dismemberment» and the «separatism» of Paraguay in relation to Buenos Aires. The only real fact is that the Porteños (and their liberal-doctrinnaire vassals) were the real separatists and the real traitors to Spain and the Catholic Majesties. [5]

The First Junta of Buenos Aires (25 May - 18 December 1810), a symbol of revolutionary liberalism. Under false pretenses (like "the Mask of Ferdinand VII"), the "Próceres" Porteños and their servants tried to impose their whimsical, arbitrary and lunatic will upon the rest of the Provinces of the River Plate. Traditionalist Paraguay was the fiercest opponent to Buenos Aires. [Image: Chajarí Digital].
The First Junta of Buenos Aires (25 May – 18 December 1810), a symbol of revolutionary liberalism. Under false pretenses (like «the Mask of Ferdinand VII»), the «Próceres» Porteños and their servants tried to impose their whimsical, arbitrary and lunatic will upon the rest of the Provinces of the River Plate. Traditionalist Paraguay was the fiercest opponent to Buenos Aires. [Image: Chajarí Digital].

But things weren’t looking very good in Paraguay either. The new Junta was trying to follow the baneful steps of Buenos Aires. On 19 June 1811, Don Mariano Antonio Molas, a very influential «Prócer» and Paraguayan porteñista, proposed:

«Not only Paraguay has to keep friendly relationships with Buenos Aires, but he should also unite with her to form a new society based on the principles of justice, equity and equality… In this sense, Dr. Francia should be appointed as deputy in order to represent our Province in the General Congress announced Buenos Aires… And we should suspend all relationships with Spain until the supreme decision of the Congress of Buenos Aires is taken». [6]

This was accepted by the whole Junta, with the exception of Dr. Francia, whom refused to be sent to Buenos Aires and to be reduced into an instrument of Buenos Aires. The plan of the Porteñistas was, in fact, to remove Don José Gaspar from Asunción since his influence amongst the populace was unmatchable and he was also seen with great suspicion by the military members of the Paraguayan Junta. They thought that Dr. Francia was some kind of a crypto-royalist, and probably, they were right about that but things would evolve differently from that moment onwards.

In order to prevent any attempt of absorption by the Porteños, Dr. Francia played another gamble. With the approval of his peers, he dictated a letter (that was written down by Don Fernando de la Mora), adressed to the Junta of Buenos Aires. This document was visionary and in the same time, it was a proposal for a restoration of the Spanish Old Ways in the River Plate. In this historical piece, Francia proclaimed the total Independence and Autonomy of Paraguay towards Buenos Aires, the loyalty of Paraguay to the cause of the Spaniard Monarchy and its pledge to defend the rights of King Don Fernando VII and the necessity to retain the union of the provinces of the River Plate under a system of confederation. His exact words about the «Confederation», as transcribed by de La Mora, were: «The Confederation of this Province with the rest of the Provinces of Our America and most importantly, with the ones that belonged to the former Viceroyalty (of the River Plate), should be of the most immediate and affordable interestand therefore, the most natural one, since we are peoples not just of the same origin but also joined together by common and particular interests that are destined by nature itself to be joined and living together for our conservation». [7]

For the Spaniard author, Don José Manuel Rodríguez Pardo, this move by Dr. Francia made him the «Father of American Integrationism» and also «Precursor of the Hispanidad (Spanishness)». On the other hand, Bartolomé Mitre affirms that this document inspired by the famous «Supremo of Paraguay» became the cornerstone and the foundational basis of the idea of a «Federation» in the history of Independent Argentina. [8]

Francia’s idea was nothing more but to restore the traditional system of government created by the legendary Catholic Kings Don Fernando (Ferdinand of Aragon) and Doña Isabel (Isabella of Castile). When these two great monarchs united by marriage, they joined their kingdoms via personal union and the natural result was the birth of a «Confederate System» that was at the heart of the Spaniard’s future glory and success. After this, the «Kingdom of Spain» would evolve and transform itself into the first global superpower in modern history with an «Empire in which the Sun Never Sets». [9]

The Bourbons with their liberal and enlightened reforms brought several changes to this Confederate System and the Porteños were the main defenders of the «Centralist», «Absolutist» and «Unitarian» Government, while the Paraguayans inspired by Dr. Francia were the champions of the traditional Trastámara-Habsburg ideal of a «Confederation» under a common monarch. These are legitimate glories of Paraguay, land of loyalty and tradition. These are the things that the «Historical School of Porteñismo» desperately wanted to keep hidden. Asunción, the Mother City of the River Plate, could never have been a traitor to her own mother, the Catholic Crown of Spain. On the contrary, Buenos Aires, under inspiration of the enlightened despotism and sectarian liberalism, was the ones pushing for the dismemberment of the whole region, with no authority whatsoever on its favour to sustain any of its claims.

But the Buenosaireans had a lot of strings to pull in the Junta of Asunción. The military element, led by Don Fulgencio Yegros, were promoters of the Porteñista Agenda. They conjured up in the Cabildo in order to remove Dr. Francia from his influential position. Notorious Don José Gaspar, in preventive maneuvers, resigned two times and retired himself to his countryhouse at Ibiray just before the «Porteñistas» of the Junta could expel him or even worse, imprison him. His first resignation was on 30 July 1811. [10]

In the absence of Francia, the Junta tried once more to get closer to Buenos Aires. They sent notes and communications expressing their desires of uniting with the Porteño’s City in order to form a single nation. This language had nothing to do with the «Confederate System» proposed by Francia, rather, it was an attempt to follow the «Unitarian» and «Centralist» line of the liberal sectarians of Buenos Aires. The Cabildo of Asunción (under the presidence of Don Juan Valeriano de Zeballos), after knowing about the maneuvers of the Junta Superior Gubernativa, desperately summoned back Dr. Francia, who returned to Asunción from his first retirement on 6 September 1811.

Paraguay loathed the idea of being annexed by Buenos Aires and this old battle was still raging on…


[1] The Honourable Junta Gubernativa del Paraguay (Fulgencio Yegros, José Gaspar de Francia, Pedro Juan Caballero, Fernando de la Mora) to the Most Excellent Marqués Carlos Martínez de Irujo y Tacón, Envoy Minister of Spain in Río de Janeiro. Asunción, 26 September 1811. Available at: Doroteo Bareiro Collection (Colección Doroteo Bareiro), volume I, restored by Richard Alan White. Asunción, Paraguay.

[2] «Reflexiones sobre una Proclama Publicada en el Brasil», available in Moreno, Mariano (1949): «Escritos – Con Prólogo y Edición Crítica de Ricardo Levene», volume I, pages 121-139. Buenos Aires, Argentina: Colección Clásicos Argentinos, Ediciones Estrada, in two volumes.

[3] Saavedra, Cornelio (1960): «Memoria autógrafa», in Biblioteca de Mayo. Colección de obras y documentos para la historia argentina. Autobiografías II: page 1052. Buenos Aires, Argentina.

[4] «Próceres de la Independencia», short biographies of the main actors in the Paraguayan Indenpendence. Available at: «Casa de la Independencia 1811-2011». Retrieved: 25 May 2021. Link: https://www.casadelaindependencia.org.py/proceres.html

[5] Ezcurra Medrano, Alberto (1941): «La Independencia del Paraguay…»., op. cit. page 5.

[6] Ezcurra Medrano (1941): «La Independencia del Paraguay…», op. cit. pages 10-11.

[7] Rodríguez Pardo (2011): «La Independencia del Paraguay no fue Proclamada en Mayo de 1811…», op.cit. pages 73-74.

[8] Mitre, Bartolomé (1887): «Historia de Belgrano y la Independencia Argentina…», op. cit. vol. II, pages 27-28. – It should be noticed that the exact word used by Francia and De la Mora was «Confederation». So here, either Mitre is falsifying history once again or he just used the words «Federation» and «Confederation» as synonyms, something that could show either an extreme literary liberty, utter ignorance of the difference, or both.

[9] Pendrill, Colin (2002): «Spain 1474-1700: The Triumphs and Tribulations of Empire», pages 209-210. London, Britain: Heinemann.

[10] Garay, Blas (2009): «La Revolución de la Independencia del Paraguay, La Junta Superior Gubernativa, El Primer Consulado», pages 105 and 159. Asunción, Paraguay: Servilibro.

Emilio Urdapilleta

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