Artigas, José Gervasio


Artigas, José Gervasio
born June 19, 1764, probably Montevideo [Uru.]
died Sept. 23, 1850, Ibiray, near Asunción, Para.

Soldier and revolutionary leader regarded as the father of Uruguayan independence.

In his youth Artigas was a gaucho in what is now Uruguay. Allied with the Buenos Aires junta, he fought for independence from Spain and won a brilliant victory at Las Piedras. His insistence on federalism against the efforts of Buenos Aires to assert control over the entire region led to civil war. He ruled over a portion of what is now Uruguay and central Argentina until a Portuguese invasion forced him into exile in 1820. Uruguay achieved independence in 1828.

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▪ Uruguayan revolutionary
born June 19, 1764, probably Montevideo [now in Uruguay]
died September 23, 1850, Ibiray, near Asunción, Paraguay

      soldier and revolutionary leader who is regarded as the father of Uruguayan independence, although that goal was not attained until several years after he had been forced into exile.

      As a youth Artigas was a gaucho, or cowboy, in the interior of what is now Uruguay. In 1797 he entered the Spanish military forces, which then were mainly engaged in exterminating bandits. Several years later (1810) he offered his services to the Buenos Aires junta that was leading an independence movement against Spain. After winning a brilliant victory at Las Piedras, he besieged Spanish-held Montevideo for a time. In the face of superior Portuguese forces (called in from Brazil by the Spaniards), Artigas led a dramatic withdrawal of about 16,000 people from the region into Argentine territory.

      Artigas then became the champion of federalism against the efforts of Buenos Aires to assert centralized control over the whole Río de la Plata region. In 1814 this struggle became a civil war. At first Artigas ruled over about 350,000 square miles (900,000 square km) of what is now Uruguay and central Argentina. His hold, however, was weakened by his insistence on decentralized government and was finally broken by a Portuguese invasion, which he resisted for three years. From 1820 he lived in exile in Paraguay; the independence of his native Uruguay was finally achieved on Aug. 27, 1828.

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Universalium. 2010.

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