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Narciso Campero

General Narciso Campero Leyes (29 October 1813 12 August 1896) was president of Bolivia from 1880 to 1884. The Narciso Campero Province was named after him.

The offspring of a rich land-owning family from Tarija, he was educated at Chuquisaca's St. Francis Xavier University but nonetheless chose a military career, inspired by the heroes of the lengthy wars of South American independence. Considered an officer of unimpeacheable credentials, Campero fought as a young man in the battles of the Confederation (1836-39) and at Ingavi (1841) against Peru. He was a graduate of the prestigious St. Cyr military academy in France, but as a supporter of Jose Ballivian chose to retire from the army and remained in France during the Belzu era (beginning in 1847) as a sign of disgust with the period the historian Alcides Arguedas has referred to as the apogee of "the savage caudillos."

Although retired from politics and official affairs, Campero did not hesitate to enlist his services when the War of the Pacific against Chile ignited in February of 1879. He was then in his mid-60s. Unfortunately, it was his fate to command the Bolivian 5th Division in a number of catastrophic battles, among the last skirmishes fought by Bolivia before withdrawing to the highlands behind the Andes in early 1880. Campero's patriotism, commitment, and willingness to sacrifice despite his advanced years were nonetheless noted, and the emergency Congress of Notables convened in La Paz in December of that fateful year resolved to tap him for the difficult post of Constitutional President following Hilarion Daza's overthrow.

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