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José Gutiérrez

José Gutiérrez Guerra (born in Sucre 1869; died in Antofagasta, Chile, in 1939) was President of Bolivia between 1917 and 1920. Educated in England, he later returned to Bolivia and worked as an economist and in banking. He entered politics in 1914, when he was elected Deputy (Representative) from La Paz. His rise was meteoric, however, as he was tipped to succeed Ismael Montes as Liberal Party candidate in the 1917 presidential elections. Having won at the polls, he took office but faced severe problems stemming from worsening economic conditions and mounting opposition from the recently-formed Republican Party. The 1917 assassination (never fully explained) of the founder of that party and former President, José Manuel Pando, further undermined Gutiérrez's popularity and legitimacy. Worse, the latter was not decisive enough to fully repress the regime's opponents, despite the fact that Congress had initiated an official investigation into the alleged excesses and misdeeds of his predecessor and political chief, Ismael Montes. Twenty-plus years of unbroken Liberal control of the government (the longest by one party in the history of Bolivia) had fatigued most Bolivians and turned them against the ruling elites and their methods.

All of this culminated in the 1920 coup d'état which, with military help, brought to power the opposition Republican Party under the leadership of Bautista Saavedra. Gutiérrez sought refuge in the U.S. embassy and, exiled to Chile, lived the rest of his days there, dying in Antofgasta in the year 1939.


Mesa José de; Gisbert, Teresa; and Carlos D. Mesa, "Historia De Bolivia", 3rd edition. pp. 511-513.

Preceded by
Ismael Montes
President of Bolivia
Succeeded by
Bautista Saavedra


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