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Jose Ballivian

For the province of Bolivia, see Jose Ballivian, Beni

Jose Ballivian was a Bolivian general during the Peruvian-Bolivian War and the 9th president of Bolivia from September 27, 1841 to December 23, 1847.

Born in La Paz to wealthy parents, Ballivian had a rather undistinguished military career until his elevation to the post of Commander of the Army in June 1841. He had been a royalist until 1822, but switched sides and joined Lanza's insurrectionist army at the age of 18. His advance in the Bolivian army was unremarkable, although his role was apparently fundamental to the Confederate triumph over Chile at the Battle of Socabaya (early 1836). Importantly, he had been a supporter of Santa Cruz in the 1830s. His golden hour came, and he rose dramatically to the occasion, when at aged 37 and as Bolivian Army chief he united the pro-Velasco and pro-Santa Cruz factions under his command to face-off a massive Peruvian invasion led by President Agustin Gamarra. At the Battle of Ingavi (November 1841), Ballivian emerged with a surprising and crushing victory against Gamarra, whom he took prisoner and ordered executed. It was a stunning turn of events, and one that marks the highest point in Bolivian military history. Ingavi preserved Bolivian independence and transformed Ballivian into an overnight hero in a fractured nation badly in need of one. Congress almost immediately proclaimed him Provisional President in Calvo's replacement. Marshall Santa Cruz, from France, acquiesced to his rule and declined to return in the face of the enormous popularity of the new Caudillo.

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