López, Francisco Solano

López, Francisco Solano lōˈpās [key], 1826?–1870, president of Paraguay (1862–70). He was the son of Carlos Antonio López, who made him a brigadier general at 18. Appointed head of a diplomatic mission, he went to Europe in 1853, where he negotiated the building of the first railroad in Paraguay. Upon his return he was made minister of war, and in 1862, on the death of his father, he assumed power as a dictatorial caudillo. A megalomaniac who considered himself the Napoleon of South America, López fanatically sought to increase the prestige of Paraguay and waged (1865) a disastrous war with Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay (see Triple Alliance, War of the). He was defeated and killed (1870) after retreating with the remnants of his army. López demanded blind allegiance and even had members of his family killed on suspicion of conspiracy. An incident with the United States arose over his imprisonment of Porter Cornelius Bliss. Many of the cruelties that marked his rule were attributed to Eliza Lynch, his Irish mistress, whom he had met in Paris. Solano López, however, is today regarded by some Latin Americans as the champion of the rights of small countries against the aggression of more powerful neighbors.

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