After graduating from the military academy and pursuing a more or less routine career in the armed forces, he only became a major figure in national affairs during and after the war.
Following the Chaco conflict, Paraguay experienced a year of turmoil. The Liberals, under President Eusebio Ayala, were overthrown in February 1936 in a coup that brought Colonel Rafael Franco, a popular military hero, to the presidency. However, Franco’s anti-Liberal revolutionary government was deeply divided among various factions, and in August 1937 a successful coup brought the Liberals back to power.
Marshal Estigarribia was made head of the new government. He favored the reformist-minded New Liberal faction of the party, but his attempts at social reform were blocked by Congress, controlled by the traditional Liberals. So Estigarribia dissolved Congress and declared himself dictator.
However, he was killed in an airplane crash less than a month after the new constitution went into effect