Jose Gaspar Rodriguez de France
Dr. José Gaspar Rodríguez de Francia y Velasco (Jaguaron, January 6, 1766 - Asuncion, September 20, 1840) was the leader of Paraguay from 1814 to 1840. France is credited with making Paraguay an independent and isolated state.
After completing his theological and legal studies, he worked as a lawyer and judge in Asuncion. Immediately after the outbreak of the revolution of 1811, he became secretary of the revolutionary junta, consul in 1813, dictator in 1814 and dictator for life in 1817.
Dr. France was inspired by Rousseau's "Social Contract" and wanted to build a society in this sense, but was also inspired by Robespierre and Napoleon I. To pursue his utopia, he isolated the state against all outside influences, trying to establish an industry for the needs of their own state. As a despot, he ruled the country with the help of terror and reprisals. He was popularly known as El Supremo, the highest.
He banned all opposition parties and abolished higher education, newspapers, the post office and the Inquisition, while establishing the secret police. In time, he took over the ownership of the Catholic Church and used their land for collective farming. He declared himself the leader of the Catholic Church of Paraguay, which was the reason for his excommunication by the Pope.
In the last years of his life, it became increasingly clear that he was mentally ill. France decided that all dogs must be shot. He ordered that everyone must greet him with a raised hat, and those who did not wear a hat had to wear a rim that they would raise when France passed.
He died on September 20, 1840, and shortly before his death he destroyed all his papers, feeling that his end was near.
Shaw, Karl (2005) . Power Mad! [Šílenství mocných] (in Czech). Prague: Metaphor. p. 27-28. ISBN 978-80-7359-002-4. CS1 maintenance: Unrecognized language (link)