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Manuel Méndez Caldeyra

Other names/titles:
Gender: M
Ethnic origin: White

Biographical details

He was born into a respectable Montevideo family around 1780. He became a shopkeeper and merchant. He defended Montevideo against Sir Samuel Auchmuty. He married Juana Bianquet around 1806 and they moved to Buenos Aires where they had three children. In January 1815 they moved to Asunción "in the hope of bettering their fortune".
There they hosted tertulias that were attended by foreigners, such as William Parish Robertson, recent arrivals from Spain and Paraguayans such as Andrés and Juana Gómez who viewed Paraguayans with cynicism.
In August 1815 Méndez took some of his produce to Buenos Aires and returned with goods to sell in Paraguay. Dr Francia asked him about the political situation in Buenos Aires and then told Méndez "to depart in peace". A week later a government official broke up the Méndez's tertulia and announced that Francia had ordered the family's exile to Curuguatí. Robertson believes that the reason was Francia's jealousy and was because Méndez had visited Buenos Aires, that Francia hated. The Méndezes were immediately ostracized.
William Robertson tried to intervene with Francia and took over all the Méndezes assets that they were unable to take with them. The family them walked through silent streets to the port in Asunción and their exile accompanied by Robertson and a few servants. Robertson fell into the river and was knocked unconscious, he was pulled out by a peon and nonetheless sailed with the Méndezes for two days to ensure they were as comfortable as possible.
It took them 4 months and 12 days to reach Curuguatí. They were held up in Quarepotí port for two months awaiting transport. When it came, they sent their belongings ahead in several carriages, and the family followed in one the next morning. They travelled along swampy roads and their carriage fell depositing the family into a bed of thorns and left them to walk to the "hovel" in which they were to spend the night. The next morning Méndez went by horse to try to repair the carriage. On his return, his horse bolted, and Méndez broke his leg in two places in the fall. His wife set his leg as well as she could and sent a messenger to her former doctor back to Asunción asking for further instructions. Six days later she received a reply and over the next two months, Méndez recovered sufficiently to be able to ride to Curuguatí (they left on 20 January 1816). When they arrived he was unable to walk without crutches and his wife feared he would never regain the use of his leg.
They spent 11 years in exile until 1826 when Francia allowed them, and many other foreigners in Paraguay, to leave. They left Asunción on the Robertson brothers' boat and William Robertson met them in Buenos Aires. Méndez continued to trade and his children prospered although they said it took them a year to believe they were safe from Francia. (Robertson, Vol. 3, 40-62)

Life Events

Born 1780He was born around this time.
Married 1806He married Juana Bianquet around this time.
Other 1815He was exiled by Dr Francia to Curuguatí.
Other 1826He was allowed to return to Buenos Aires.


Robertson, John Parish and W. P., (1970), Letters on Paraguay


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