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Juan Manuel de Rosas: the Restorer of the Laws

New looks at the always controversial figure of Rosas, for some South Washington, others the first national tyrant. Brief biography of a man who marked the Argentine being.

Juan Manuel de Rosas

A young farmer works from sun to sun in the estancia “Los Cerrillos”, and also manages properties close to Los Anchorena, four huge estancias in Buenos Aires plus its saladeros,  the first Argentine industry driven by this brittle capitalist. Another unusual feature, a little more than the May Revolution, is that he does not enjoy the porteñas gatherings, and he manages the hard work of the campaign on horseback and poncho, in the company of gauchos and indians ranquels and pampas.   To these employees he pays fair wages, without delay, and gives land on the borders of his domain. He has seventy plows that work simultaneously, anticipating agrarian Argentina,  someone who imagines a country as a giant hacienda,  a landowners pioneer. If you would not speak in your ranches with this character, you would never imagine that Juan  Manuel de Rosas is a Creole of the New World , with an acendrada strain, and would seem more like an English  farmer  with blond hair, imposing bearing and captivating blue eyes. Until the unsuspecting attends how he acts, and he feels that the severe and paternalistic Hispanic America runs in his veins, “in a quadrero who has stolen a capon -working horse- and who has fallen under the horse, in a vizcachera, -Rosas- tells him that to be a quadrero you have to be “good gaucho and have a good pingo”; he takes him in legs to the house, makes him stake and give fifty whips,” says in limbo fiction and reality Manuel Gálvez, “sits it at his table, promises him that he will be the godfather of his next son; he offers him cows and sheep, a herd, a tropilla and a place in his field, so that he works there as his partner; he gives him a bed that night and makes him put brine because he is hurt; and he says that they put the horse down and get it well, “as you were, for zonzo and bad gaucho.”  Rosas, lord of the Pampas, owner of land and lives.  

He was born on March 30, 1793 into the bosom of a rich Buenos Aires family settled in la fortune in the exploitation of immense lands, a grandfather of his began the expansion/appropriation of Creole landowner in the province. As a young woman linked to rural activities, destined for the administration of her mother's camps, the woman of character Agustina López de Osornio, a family dispute makes her proud renounce her abolengo and grow in the bosom of the Anchorena.   During the British Invasions, at the age of thirteen, he armed only one militia and fought “bravely” with distinctions from General Liniers.   During the early years of the national governments, and especially in the 1920s, Rosas acquires a strong profile of spokesperson for the claims of the landowners, imagines a proto rural society, and an insightful understanding of the social problems of the campaign, as a whip but also civil channeling of the junior sectors mobilized in the wars of Independence.  Rosas was one of the first to think of a nation's pragmatic solutions for the —supposed — desert, before Sarmiento and Mitre.  

“ Just ask you for firmness: distrust those who suggest you species of subversion of order, and of insubordination: reproduce with me the oaths that we have made to sustain the representation of the province ,” he argues to his loyal Colorados del Monte, his particular militia who patiently was armed and will increase in the following years, amid the turmoil of 1820 and in defense of the Martín Rodríguez government against the federal offensive of Estanislao López, “trust that the jobs and sacrifices that the campaign will cost will be profitable and that they will bring Thousand blessings upon the virtuoso... regiment... honored officers and all the friends and gauchos who accompany this commander in chief” Rosas ends up handing over 35,000 heads of cattle of his in compensation to the Santafesinos and cends the future Federal Covenant that will allow their future government. Their soldiers do not commit troplies, to the surprise of the Porteños these countrymen “behave”, and will be fundamental in the defense of the Buenos Aires coast repelling Brazilian landings in the war (1825-1828) that is looming by the Eastern Band.

 The rise of red punched 

When the decisive shooting of the hero of Independence, and of the federal cause, Manuel Dorrego occurs by Juan Lavalle, in turn Sanmartinian hero and Ituzaingó, in Navarro,  the only possible candidate to “found an energetic government that cends the organization of the country” It was Rosas. Not only does he have material resources but also has a huge sustenance in the commoner.   Who is now known as “The Restorer of the Laws” ascended in December 1829 with “fullness of faculties,” as had been his request to Governor Viamonte, and as they had held the homeland governments since 1811. That day he swears that “under my command, the popular cause will triumph... the government will sustain the disvalids and protect them,” in a speech that addresses the people, the militias and the army and navy.  He barely resigns his public salaries, the same would Presidents Hipolito Yrigoyen and Mauricio Macri, and he instates in hundreds of decrees a vocabulary with red fire and federal ways of life.   Rosas is a furious legalist. The whole state apparatus and legal scaffolding, simultaneously with a new public opinion addicted with its own press, are transformed into a great moralizing and patriotic agency. It restores the powers of the Church that Rivadavia had violated and makes it another part of its bureaucracy. At the end of 1832, with the old project of a Desert Campaign that extends the territories to its landlord class, Rosas ended an honest administration, and that cares for public money as few — for example, eliminated Lavalle's deficit of 17 million pesos.  But the most notable legacy of this first management is undoubtedly that for the first time the fourteen provinces form a unity, the Federation, and a federal, republican and democratic spirit that would influence the future constitution . Constitution that previously rejected the requests of other federal warlords, for Facundo Quiroga, because Rosas considered it a “booklet” if before there was no solid national organization and respect - according to Rosas, born in Rigor - for the laws. The story after Caseros would be right.

When Rosas commanded the Campaign of the Desert, failed by the defections of Chileans and the armies of Cuyo and Norte, immersed in the unitary reaction, took place in 1833 the Restorative Revolution, driven by the Popular Restorative Society, its political arm, and the Cob, its armed arm. It was designed by Encarnación Ezcurra, wife of Juan Manuel, and the first of its kind to actively participate in the Argentine political arena.  A kind of 19th century Eva Perón, with excellent arrival in the marginal sectors and an admirable organising capacity, receives the following words from Manuel Vicente Maza directed to Rosas, “Your wife is the heroine of the century: disposition, courage, tenacity and energy deployed in all cases and on every occasion; his example was enough to electrify and decide,” says who would then be killed by mazorqueros after the uprising of the estancieros del Sur in 1839. Two years later, the Buenos Aires carpet receives by acclamation in the House of Representatives, and in the streets, the Restorer of the Laws, who would rule an incipient nation at an iron fist for 17 years under quite fragile conditions.

 The Age of Roses  

On the internal front the Rosas government endured an exhausting civil war against the unitarians, between the brilliant José María Paz in Corrientes and the attempts of multinational armies of Lavalle, who put administration and finance in check. Outside, Rosas faced Bolivia, Paraguay, Uruguay and the two great powers at the time, France (twice) and England as Argentina Confederation.  With the glory of the Second War of Independence, the patriot campaign of the Litoral and the battle of the Return of Obligado in 1845, Rosas defended national sovereignty with nails and teeth, breathed a renewed patriotism that founded Argentinity.  And he was about to fight with the imperialist and slave owner Pedro II for the Brazilian expansionist pretensions; Don Juan Manuel, who emancipated blacks and shared the Sunday candombes.  Imagine not to anyone General San Martin would send the saber that liberated half the Continent , the most precious possession of Rosas who took him to the tomb.

 An exceptional, violent state, exacerbated in the second term rosists repressive attitudes with the precise and intersecting objectives of excising factious dissent and creating a virtuous Republican citizenship . It was the climate of terror and censorship, of the silence of opponents who emigrated massively to Montevideo—to ally Uruguayans and French against their own country-, which reached the zenith between 1840 and 1842 “Buenos Aires was silent, the streets without people, very few that out of necessity or fear came out... the mothers feared... the tyranny was in those below, that dark, unconscious, anonymous tyranny, which is not represented by a man but by the crowd,” portrayed an aristocrat Victor Gálvez. In addition to the concrete terror perpetrated by the Mazorqueros, a sad essay of future State Terrorism (although, fair to say, Rosas ordered the death of those who caught in looting, or overflowing in the name of the Holy Federation against unitary filthy savages), Gálvez mentions another terror, another tyrann' iacute; a, and it is that Rosist, Americanist and egalitarian federalism, which threatens the privileges of the Creole aristocracies. These countrymen acceded via militarization, via leases, via small civil conquests stained with demagogy, to a battery of tools that allowed social rise. The Rosist regime was an answered and contingent political system, the result of multiple agreements with broad sectors of society, unprecedented in the country although settled in several legal institutions derived from Rivadavia as respect for property and individual rights, and which gave an unusual modernity in the formation of citizens. In this sense,  the Rosist experience avoided a traditional caste society in the new Latin American republics. For the Creole, everything remained in memory.  

 But this omnimode power had a limit on the horizon and was called Justo José de Urquiza, its main general, and competitor in expanses of hacienda . He also ruled Entre Ríos, where the relaxation of censorship revived the discussion for a Constitution, and criticism of the Rosist reluctance for freedom of trade that adversely affected business with foreign powers. The Confederation was exhausted from contributions to endless civil wars and claims of a blind loyalty to federalism punched. And the countrymen had fed up turning into cannon meat without rewards in money and land—in contrast, regional economies grew thanks to Rosas' protectionist measures, and Buenos Aires tripled the tonnage of overseas exports and merchant ships in ten years. On February 3, 1852 in Caseros, a multinational army commanded by Urquiza beat the disjointed resistance of Rosas, and detonated the massacres, looting and preying for the first time in the city. The most powerful man in the country until the day before, in the company of his beloved daughter Manuelita, takes refuge in the house of the British chargé d'affaires . The next day I would leave at the HMS Conflict to never return again.  

With Rosas, General Gerónimo Costa travels. This federal military remembers that the Restorer was terrified with the anarchy that lurked in his country and the fate of the countrymen, the gauchos, the blacks “Too bad it was not possible to form a country! ”, imagine the dialogue between Costa and Rosas journalist Hernán Brienza, “Rosas got serious, “I never thought about it,” and “What did it make us fight so much for? , retrude Costa. Rosas nailed his view on Buenos Aires that was moving away, “Because only then can you rule this town”  Peace and administration would say Julio Argentino Roca in 1880. Rosas ruled to get to that.  The country cost thirty more years of blood and the almost extinction of gauchos and Indians.

 Sad, lonely and final 

Affirming his excellent relations with the British, Rosas fixed residence in Southhampton with the protection of his former enemy, English Prime Minister Lord Palmerston. Guarded by the Queen's secret services has few contacts with the outside and has lived a lonely life on her Burguess Street farm since 1865. He walked in the streets with almost seventy years and ran his  farmer  personally, “ His love for what could be called despotic command was so great that no one was allowed to say a word except to accept orders or answer questions. General Rosas always paid farmers a third more than the current wages in the district, but he had the particularity of hiring them day by day”  commented the local newspaper in the years that begin the economic suffering of whom an English censist scored ; as a “statesman” The next decade will be of enormous narrowing, at the limit of subsistence he worked in the garden with more than 80 years old, and received diminished aid from few old friends or Urquiza, who admitted in letters the grave mistake of having overthrown him.  Since 1857 his name was forbidden, the kick-off of repudiable Argentine proscriptions, and their large assets, earned worthy outside the public service, confiscated.   He died on March 14, 1877, after fishing for a terrible pulmonary congestion by renting animals in the middle of winter, not knowing that in the Argentine campaign the last montoneras danced to cry “Viva Rosas”, and the Chinas attended the festivities with the federal headband.

“Roses is not a simple tyrant,” says John the Baptist Alberdi, who began praising the Restorer of the Laws, became the ideologue of his overthrow, and who visits him in England, the cracks extinguished and with a tremendous historical perspective, “ if in his hand there is a bloody rod iron, I see in his head Belgrano's cockade . I'm not so blinded by the love of party to know what Rosas is under certain aspects. If the titles to Argentine nationality were lost, I would contribute with a sacrifice to the achievement of their ransom.  Rosas and the Argentine Republic are supposed to each other: the tempering of their will, the firmness of his genius, the energy of his intelligence are not traits but of the people that he reflects in his person ”

Sources: Galvez, M.  Life of Don Juan Manuel de Rosas.   Buenos Aires: Trivium editions. 1971; Saldías, A.  History of the Argentine Confederation  . Buenos Aires: Hyspamerica. 1987; Myers, J.  The new American man. Juan Manuel de Rosas and his regime  in Halperín Donghi, T. Lafforgue, J. Historias de los caudillos argentinos. Buenos Aires: Alfaguara. 1999.

Publication Date: 01/04/2021

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PORTADA P HISTORIA (30) Love in the times of Roses
Reelection and resignation of Juan Manuel de Rosas



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