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Agustin Morales

Agustin Morales Hernandez was a military officer and de facto President of Bolivia between 1871 and 1872.

Originally a supporter of President Jose Ballivian (1841-47), Morales became a sworn enemy of General Manuel Belzu, who had in essence overthrown Ballivian in 1847. Following many years combatting Belzu, Morales came to power with President Jose Maria Linares (1857-1861). Opposed to the government of General Jose Maria de Acha, who had overthrown Linares, Morales supported the 1864 coup that brought to power the notorious General Mariano Melgarejo, who rewarded him with the generalship and (importantly) command of the Bolivian Army. Melgarejo's "Sexenio" (Six-Year Ordeal) had been constroversial and brutal, and opposition to it became widespread. Eventually, General Morales changed sides and, after uniting all the factions fighting against the President, dethroned Melgarejo via coup d'etat in January, 1871. Thus ended the dreaded "Sexenio" -- but not the era of military rule.

Of legendarily volcanic temperament, Morales endeavored to rule as a dictator, but was exposed as semi-literate when, in 1872, one of his letters was published in the newspapers by a famous Bolivian writer. Embarrassed, Morales called Congress for the first time since the early Acha administration and declared himself ready to leave office if considered unworthy. While Congress deliberated, Morales suffered from extremely violent tantrums and mood changes. This led him to physically assault one of his military aides in the Government Palace on November 27, 1872. The President's nephew, Federico Lafaye, tried to stop him but was struck himself, whereupon Lafaye shot and killed the temperamental President.

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