History of Paraguay contra its Falsifiers: Chapter XI

History of Paraguay contra its Falsifiers: Chapter XI

An Enigmatic Triumvirate.

The «Black Legend» against Spain was running rampant in the Hispanic Liberalism. It was a subtle way to show allegiance and submission to the «Enlightened Values» of the Anglo-French Revolutions. A Paraguayan who is considered an «intelectual» by his apologists once wrote:

«In the XVII Century, such was the ignorance in Spain -according to the Memories of Marshal Grammont- that the superior classes barely knew what happened in other countries, not even in their own country, because there was no source of information other than indigestible and colorless chronicles that appeared from time to time. As for the lower classes, they vegetated in the most absolute darkness… Science was considered as a crime, ignorance and stupidity seen as the highest virtues. The Jesuits, who were the main deprivers in all councils and houses, taught that the spirit of investigation was guilty, that intelligence should be leased as a petty mule and that credulity and obedience were the finest attributes of men -according to the Memories of the Duke of Saint Simon, French Ambassador at Madrid in 1721… If that was the situation in our «Mother Patria», how their daughters in America should have been!». [1]

Such an intelectual was Don Cecilio Báez, author of these embarrasing lines, that he is talking about the same Spain that discovered and civilized The Americas; the same Spain of legendary explorers such as Don Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca and Don Juan Sebastián del Cano (or Elcano, as he is mostly known), individuals who pushed the art and science of navigation to new worlds and to frontiers never imagined by any other human before; the same Spain that preserved the «treasure of the Guaraní Language» and other indigenous arts and cultures in the newly discovered Americas; the same Spain of the School of Salamanca (led by Priests Francisco de Vitoria, Juan de Mariana, Melchor Cano, Francisco Suarez, Martín de Azpilcueta, Diego de Covarrubias and others) who is considered as the cornerstone of modern (and non liberal) economical and judicial theories; the same Spain that was the undisputed World Power from 1492 to 1714 and even in its demise under House Bourbon (the introducers of everything «afrancesado» in the old Spaniard Empire), they still ruled a great lot of the territories of the globe. And I’m presenting just some minor examples for not to overextend myself.

Don Atilio García Mellid punishes the stultitia and utter intelectual torpor of the Liberal School of Buenos Aires, whose vassal is Don Cecilio Báez of Asunción:

«One of the ways of hiding the historical truths that is used and abused by our liberals, is their writing of history. We got hundreds of books, manuals and treaties of history that were all cut by the same scissors, and they are the scourge and disdain of the Academia… It’s the magisterium of arbitrary labels that gains efficacy by the mechanical phenomena of repetition». [2]

Or to put it more simply: it’s the magisterium of the Black Legend created by the Protestant minor powers of that time, perfected by the Liberals of our time; it’s the propaganda with no evidence nor logical reasoning behind the sensationalism of the headlines and quotations. Paraguay in 1810-1870 is the inheritor of Spain’s Black Legend in 1492-1714.

As mentioned in past chapters, Don Bernardo de Velasco was the Governor of Paraguay and all the Misiones appointed by the King of Spain when the May Revolution broke out in Buenos Aires. He was a respected man, considered as an expert military officer and seen as the Governor who recovered Paraguayan rule over Misiones and Corrientes. In fact, Paraguayans barely had any misfortunes with the majority of their 76 different Imperial Governors until 1810-1811. [3]

Velasco’s prestige among the populace was big, and this only grew after the Paraguayan Victory over Buenos Aires in Belgrano’s 1810-1811 Expedition. Don Cecilio Báez recognized this in an attempt to undermine the Paraguayans in favour of Buenos Aires, as was his only tradition and life goal:

«The Paraguayan people continued its life of obscurity and quietism until the moment when the forces of Buenos Aires arrived to disturb its prolongued repose in 1811. Governor Velasco led the resistence (against Buenos Aires) and after the Battles of Paraguarí and Tacuarí, where the Porteño Chief (Belgrano) capitulated, Paraguay declared its Independence». [4]

This isn’t completely untrue, despite Báez. Velasco was part of the Paraguayan Independence because this movement was initially constructed against the Junta of Buenos Aires and not against the King of Spain. The testimonials of that time were unequivocally consistent in this regard: Don Bernardo de Velasco was a vital part of the movement and only his insistence to follow the «Carlotista» Party led to his own demise on 9 June 1811 when he was put under custody and later, removed of his position of Governor and President of the Triumvirate on 17 June of that same year. A British agent summarized it:

«Paraguay obtained very easily its Independence and the Spaniard Governor Velasco was alternating in the Government with the Chief of the Revolution, Francia, whom having obtained a degree in the University of Córdoba, was mostly known as Doctor Francia». [5]

The Mystery of the Paraguayan Independence can only be explained with a parallel theological interpretation. Pope Benedict XVI, the finest theologian of our days, gave this speech:

«On the one hand, there is an interpretation that I would call «a hermeneutic of discontinuity and rupture»; it has frequently availed itself of the sympathies of the mass media, and also one trend of modern theology. On the other, there is the «hermeneutic of reform, of renewal in the continuity» of the one subject-Church which the Lord has given to us. She is a subject which increases in time and develops, yet always remaining the same, the one subject of the journeying People of God». [6]

Similarly (although in mundane realms), the Liberal Historiography of Paraguay and the River Plate pushed the «hermeneutics of rupture» concerning everything about Spain. But Paraguay was different: the «hermeneutics of renewal and continuity» was taking place on 14 May 1811, thanks to the intervention of Dr. Francia, who preserved everyhing that had to be preserved, saving the nation from falling into the hands of the doctrinnaire cabal of sectarians in Buenos Aires. Probably, that was the initial objective of the enigmatic Triumvirate that started to rule on 16 May 1811. The «Porteñistas» represented everything liberal, revolutionary and enemy of all the bonds with the culture and ways of the past. The «Royalists and Patriots» on the other hand were the keepers of the hispanic, guaraní and catholic traditions of Paraguay against the ambitions of progressive and cosmopolitan Buenos Aires.

Governor Velasco kindly accepted his two «friends» in their new positions of secretaries and he continued with his plans as President of the Triumvirate, without being molested either by Francia nor Zeballos. The new Government keeps contact with the Portuguese Agents while at the same time, proclaims loyalty to the Spaniard Crown. On 18 June 1811, Captain General Don Diego de Souza in Brazil, answered a note to the Paraguayan Government by claiming that Portugal, after recognizing all the manifestations of obedience and loyalty of the Province of Paraguay to the King Ferdinand VII and his legitimate heirs including Princess Doña Carlota Joaquina of Bourbon, is willing to give full support to the Paraguayan Government as long as the «worthy and honoured» Don Bernardo de Velasco remains in power. [7]

The timing is quite curious because on 17 June 1811, just one day prior to the note of the Portuguese Don Diego de Souza, Governor Don Bernardo de Velasco was oficially sacked of his position after being under house arrest since June 9th. This would mean that Velasco, despite the vigilance of his secretaries Francia and Zeballos, was still trying to push the «Carlotista Movement» in order to preserve the rights of Don Fernando VII in the person of his sister, the future Queen of Portugal Doña Carlota Joaquina.

Considering all these elements, the mystery becomes even more complicated. Some have speculated that Don Bernardo de Velasco’s downfall took place because of his insistence with the «Carlotist Movement». A very sharp author from Spain explained it like this (the parenthesis are mine):

«The collusion with Portugal, under the mantle of Princess Carlota Joaquina, was the trigger of the Revolution (…). Velasco was arrested on 9 June 1811 for the conspiracy of trying to deliver the province in the hands of the Portuguese. A letter written by Carlos Genovés (a Royalist Captain of the Spanish Army) on 27 March 1811 on his way to Montevideo while taking prisoners of the Battle of Paraguarí, talked about reinforcing the contacts with the Portuguese, affirming that «Paraguay will be the Restorer of South America», was taken as enough evidence that proved Velasco’s real desire to give up the province to the Portuguese». [8]

However, that interpretation given by the smart Dr. Rodríguez Pardo is based on very biased sources that belong to the Liberal and Porteñista School (Efraín Cardozo, Julio César Cháves, Adriano Irala Burgos and others), the same people whom he demolished in the following pages of his work where he proves, with great mastery, that Dr. Francia’s political ideology had nothing to do with the doctrinnaires that inspired the French Revolution but rather with the neo-scholasticism of the School of Salamanca and most especially with the Reverend Father Don Francisco Suarez (1548-1617). [9]

In fact, Don Bernardo de Velasco’s arrest on 9 June and final destitution on 17 June, year 1811, had other reasons. The «Porteñista» Alberto Ezcurra Medrano gives us a more accurate and important motive:

«The causes of Velasco’s destitution were explained in a manifest that, among other things, said the following: «The conclusion of all this that the efforts of Don Bernardo de Velasco and the individuals of this Cabildo to affirm the total separation of this Province without even trying to arbitrate or attempt conciliatory measures to its rights and liberties, to remain without wanting to send deputies to the General Congress of the Provinces with the objective of founding a just and rational association based on equality and the finest principles of the natural rights that are common to everyone and that there is no reason to believe that these principles would be abandoned by a fair and enlightened people such as the one in Buenos Aires; this has been an imprudent conduct opposed to the prosperity of the Province and the common welfare of our nationals…» (…). Therefore, the main reason for the overthrowing of Velasco was his separatist policies, and the main motive of the distinguished Paraguayan Leaders who signed the said manifest was no other but the union with Buenos Aires». [10]

The unconfortable truth is that the First Government of the so called «Paraguayan Independence» not only was ruled by the Spaniard Governor Don Bernardo de Velasco, not only was still pledging total allegiance and loyalty to the Spanish Crown, not only was very close to achieve a victory with the Carlotista Movement, but also, the so called «Próceres of Mayo» who signed the manifesto that was the basis for overthrowing Velasco (they were Fulgencio Yegros, Antonio Yegros, Pedro Juan Caballero, Vicente Iturbe, Juan Bautista Rivarola among others; Dr. Francia was not in the list) were still working for the interests of Buenos Aires and not for Paraguay. The «Porteñista» Movement, with Don Pedro de Somellera as its main intelectual leader, obtained an important triumph on 9 – 17 June 1811 with the arrest and subsequent deposition of Governor Velasco. The «Royalists» were taken out with a single blow and the «Patriots» were hanging by the ropes…

Contrary to popular believe, on 17 June 1811 the Paraguayan Independence was at stake. Don Bernardo de Velasco’s gamble (the Carlotist Movement) had failed and he was out of the game. The radical «Porteñistas» (who were inspired by Pedro de Somellera) Pedro Juan Caballero and Fernando de la Mora, favoured by the moderates Fulgencio Yegros and Francisco Xavier de Bogarín, were now in control and they also removed Captain Zeballos for the sole crime that he was a Penninsular Spaniard, despite the support that Zeballos gave them initially. Only one man was standing between the intrigues of the vassals of Buenos Aires and the total annexation of Paraguay in the hands of the liberal and masonic revolution of the River Plate: Don José Gaspar Rodríguez de Francia, who remained in his position only because of the great prestige he had amongst the populace and his indubitable intellect and talent. [11]

The "Junta Superior Gubernativa" of Paraguay (Superior Junta of Government) was established in 17 June 1811. Fulgencio Yegros (Up) was his first President. Down, from left to right: José Gaspar Rodríguez de Francia, Pedro Juan Caballero, Francisco Javier de Bogarín and Fernando de la Mora. [Image: ABC Color/Pablo Alborno/Alfred Demersay].
The «Junta Superior Gubernativa» of Paraguay (Superior Junta of Government) was established in 17 June 1811. Fulgencio Yegros (Up) was his first President. Down, from left to right: José Gaspar Rodríguez de Francia, Pedro Juan Caballero, Francisco Javier de Bogarín and Fernando de la Mora. [Image: ABC Color/Pablo Alborno/Alfred Demersay].

The «Enigmatic Triumvirate» was replaced by the «Junta de Asunción», usually known in the Paraguayan Historiography as «Junta Superior Gubernativa» in order to camouflage the «Porteñista» inspiration behind this new creation. And the «Paraguayan Junta» was still swearing loyalty and allegiance to the King of Spain, Don Fernando VII…


[1] Báez, Cecilio (1993): «La Tiranía en el Paraguay», pages 28-30. Asunción, Paraguay: Intercontinental Editora y Talleres Gráficos Litocolor.

[2] García Mellid, Atilio (1957): «Proceso al Liberalismo Argentino», op. cit. page 10.

[3] Monte de López Moreira, Mary (2012): «Historia del Paraguay: Facultad de Filosofía de la Universidad Nacional de Asunción», page 128. Asunción, Paraguay: Editorial Servilibro.

[4] Báez, Cecilio (1993): op. cit. page 23.

[5] Testimony of Alexander Caldleugh, cited by Vázquez, José Antonio (1975): «El Dr. Francia Visto y Oído por sus Contemporáneos», page 73. Buenos Aires, Argentina: EUDEBA S.E.M.

[6] «Adress of His Holiness Benedict XVI to the Roman Curia Offering them His Christmas Greetings», by Pope Benedict XVI, paragraph 35.

[7] Vittone, Luis (1960): «El Paraguay en la Lucha por su Independencia», pages 196-197. Asunción, Paraguay: Imprenta Militar y Dirección de Publicaciones de las Fuerzas Armadas.

[8] Rodríguez Pardo, José Manuel (2011): «La Independencia del Paraguay no fue Proclamada en Mayo de 1811», pages 32-33. Asunción, Paraguay: Editorial Servilibro. – Despite the remarkable prowess of this work (with some flaws) by the Spaniard formed in the Philosophical School of Oviedo founded by Don Gustavo Bueno, the book was very maligned by the Paraguayan Press because of Rodríguez Pardo’s critical revision of the «Liberal Myth» of the Independence of Paraguay.

[9] Rodríguez Pardo, José Manuel (2011): op. cit. pages 34-52.

[10] Ezcurra Medrano, Alberto (1941): «La Independencia del Paraguay…»., op. cit. pages 9-10.

[11] White, Richard Alan (1989): «La Primera Revolución Popular en América…», op. cit. pages 49-50.

Emilio Urdapilleta

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