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San Martín y Rosas: a friendship of Americans

The controversy about Rosas obscures both the Battle of the Return of Obligado, and the vital support of the Liberator, in a crucial conflict for Latin America.

San Martín y Rosas

1838 was not a particularly good year for  Joseph de San Martín,  who had seen his deteriorated health increase in Grand Bourg, six leagues from Paris. South Americans like Miguel de la Barra or  King Luis Felipe himself, who once stated, “I have the very lively pleasure of narrowing the right hand of a hero like you; General San Martin... I am pleased that you are a guest of France and that in this free country you will find the rest of so many laurels ”, in a gesture of relevance to the later plot, and which explains the stature of Saint Martin in Europe.

1838 was also not a good year for  Juan Manuel de Rosas . Surrounded by internal enemies, the unitarians and their own former estanciers allies, plus French meddling in Uruguay, home affairs raise their concerns.      Su Evita,  Incarnation Ezcurra , the revolutionary of the 33, the spiritual head of the Cob, is dying. The joy of the recent move to Palermo's fifth of St. Benedict is overshadowed by the agony of his beloved wife “That saint was the essence of sublime virtue and courage without example... has not complained during illness. His corpse seems sanctified,” Rosas writes to the widow of the warlord Estanislao López “The hard man, the manly gaucho, closes the door so they don't see him cry,” says biographer Manuel Gálvez, and the people chose to use the federal belt as a sign of mourning.

And while in Montevideo Alberdi asks that the French tricolor cockade be used, and that the Argentine soil be invaded to overthrow the “Monster of Rosas”, after the occupation of Martín García Island in October 1838  , Father de la Patria, General San Martín, wrote saying to Restorer of the Laws that if there is war “I know what my duty imposes on me.”  The great sixty-year-old American strategist lends himself under the orders of Rosas, “if you believe me of any usefulness... three days after receiving them, I will start to serve my homeland honestly in any class that is destined to me”, which causes a feelingof joy “irrepressible in Rosas... carries the letter with pride in his hands at all times” The governor of Buenos Aires excuses the Liberator for such an effort and affirms that it would be a pity for him to return to the Homeland for fear of a war that “will not happen”, knowing everything contrary but avoiding a hard trance to the  New World's Largest Creole.  

A few months later, at a time when Rosas skilful negotiates diplomatically with the French, and hardens reprisals in the Confederation against opponents, Saint Martin sent another letter, “what I cannot conceive is that there are Americans who, by an unworthy party spirit, join abroad. to humiliate their homeland and reduce it to a worse condition to which we suffered in times of Spanish domination.  Such a felony, nor can the tomb disappear” Alberdi would flee  disguised as a French soldier, and protected by Garibaldi in 1843, before the siege of the ally of Rosas, Manuel Oribe, on a Montevideo mostly with French and Argentines, “I left the rifle... and chose attack Rosas around the world” wrote the tucumano in Parisian comfort. For Sarmiento, Alberdi, the inspirer of the National Constitution, will be “the first deserter of the Argentine cause”

 Roses and Saint Martin in fine tune 

That first letter that was so proud of the governor of Buenos Aires, even San Martín, flattered him with a “respectable general,” was one of many that were sent in the following years. On the side of San Martín we must look for the justifiers of this friendship in a thought that was not new, and that had already appeared in Guayaquil: the need to end the anarchy that ravaged the newly independent land, even with “hard hand” The Liberator had the opinion that only Rosas was able to lead a process of unity, and that was his key authoritarian step in a republican future, something that  would remind  Sarmiento  for the fury of the Sanjuanino , “  so tyrant it cannot be if you have the people on your side and governs so many years ago."We  think that those years before national integration needed more than a non-existent repressive state or a powerful Customs. Rosas needed the support of leaders of the Interior, the warlords, and the various social classes, rich and poor, who saw their fortunes increased, with protectionist measures, and others protected with incipient social rights—Rosas promoted from the granting of land to the humble sectors to the carnivals without segregation.

“About two years ago I wrote to you that I found no other will to cut off the evils that have so long afflicted our unfortunate land than the establishment of a strong government; or clearer, absolute,” he said in reference to the Restorators' Revolution of 33 that he turned around ó to Balcarce and gave the sum of power to  Rosas, “to teach our compatriots to obey the laws.  I am convinced that when men do not want to obey the law, there is no other will than force. 29 years in search of a freedom that not only has not existed but in this long period, oppression, individual insecurity, destruction of fortunes, rampant, venality, corruption and civil war has was the fruit that the Fatherland has collected after so many sacrifices: it was time to put an end to evils of such size and to achieve such a laudable object I looked as good and legal every government that establishes order in a solid and stable way; and I do not doubt that its opinion and that of all men that they love their country they will think like me” he sentenced  Thomas Guido in 1835,  three years before sending the first letter to Rosas, and topped with a warning to his future distortors,” you know that my presence close to Buenos Aires in the year 29... caused all demagogues, ambitious and intriguing to hide behind my name for their particular purposes” 

Mr. de las Pampas, as they called Juan Manuel de Rosas in Europe, from his youth had a deep admiration for San Martín. He was moved by the love of the homeland, the Great American Homeland, and the affectionate ties he made with gauchos, blacks and Indians. During the time that Buenos Aires would harass San Martín with the name of “traitor of the homeland” for not joining his sword to the fratricidal war, rivadavian years, Rosas would defiantly name his estancias San Martín and Chacabuco. He later christened the flagship of the Argentine Navy Illustrious General San Martín, the same that the French would pirate in 1845, despite Admiral Brown's request to call it Restorer Rosas.

The Restorer of the Laws will appreciate the solidarity attitudes of Saint Martin in Europe, as opposed to other Argentines who are slavishly offered to the courts with the possibility of invading the country and overthrow a “tyrant” On several occasions he wants a diplomatic destiny for a man who unitesoacute; a Continent and Saint Martin declines responding that he is only a military. Such is the respect that San Martín professes to Rosas, although he recognizes resigned that he relies on violence because “if it is not respected... they will deserve it as a empanada”, that in the  will of 1844, months before the Battle of the Return of Obligado, decided to bequeath the saber that accompanied him in the gesture of American independence, “will be handed over to the General of the Argentine Republic Don Juan Manuel de Rosas, as a test of satisfaction that as an Argentine I have had in seeing the firmness with which he has upheld the honor of the Republic against the unjust claims of foreigners who tried to humiliate her,”  in a toad that traditional Argentine history never digested — and hidden.

 “ Argentines are not empanadas that are eaten with their mouth open” 

At the same time that Argentine antirosists newspapers in the world accuse the Libertator, “he has become vanished with glories due to the fate and effort of others (sic)” by Florencio Varela or “was one of those who in the cause of America see nothing but the independence of the foreigner, without caring anything about freedom (sic) by Valentín Alsina, San Martin decides to move his springs from Naples, where he comes to mitigate the pains of a body that fought as a child. From there he writes a series of letters to Jorge Dickson, our London consul, and which he publishes in the English press with the  still smoky cannons of the Battle of the Return of Obligado. Under the enormous respect projected by his figure of American Liberator and brilliant military strategist, recognized worldwide, he affirms that he does not doubt the “peacemaking” spirit of the English and French (heh) but that the powers should not count on disunity, “I do not doubt that in the capital there may be a nr...But I am persuaded that either, by national pride or fear, or by the prevention inherited from the Spaniards against foreigners, it is true that everyone will take an active part in a struggle, resistance... to infinity ... alsos, it is known that the main food of the village is meat... that like horses... and all means of transport can be easily removed to the Interior... can form a vast desert, impracticable the passage for a European army” emphasizes causing a profound effect on the opinion of the European army.blica and which pressures against increased military intervention — which would probably have been untenable for the patriots of the Paraná Campaign. A few days after the Battle of the Return of Obligado, and when Europeans suffer anti-colonial fervor in their own flesh, San Martín writes to Rosas satisfied, “Argentines are not empanadas that eat with their mouths open,” and considers  Roses' struggle “as transcendent as that of our emancipation from Spain”. 

And Saint Martin continues to fight to death for American freedom, on all fronts. When the peace agreement in 1849 between the Argentine Confederation and the world powers is in danger, France and England, exhausted in a war that its citizens do not understand, thousands of kilometers away and supposedly humiliated by a “barbarian gaucho”, a sick San Martín once again uses his political contacts.and convinces the French war minister, another admirer of his military genius, that an invasion against Argentines would be very expensive and of incalculable duration,  “the gaucho has never been a coward ” The French assembly votes for the ceasefire, “there is no government in Europe as well formed as Rosas,” they admit, and Argentines emigrants in Paris, together with Brazilians and French, open a recruitment office to invade the country and depose rosism — which is closed in 1851, would be more effective that of Rio de Janeiro prior to Caseros…

In May 1850, San Martín wrote to Rosas, one of the few Americans who collaborates economically with the Liberator's scarce income, “I don't want to take away the precious time he spends for the benefit of our homeland,” says the huge Argentinean humbly, Rosas makes them read the lines twice, hiding the emotion, “as an Argentinian fills me with real pride to see prosperity, inner peace and honor restored in our beloved homeland... all these progress... in the midst of such difficult circumstances in which few States will have been found... - a desire for health - and  that at the end of the end his public life — a subtle suggestion from San Martín, a Republican liberal, be filled with the fair recognition of every Argentinean.” History would be another. 

Sources: Lafforgue, J.-Halperín Donghi, T.  Stories of Argentine warlords . Buenos Aires: Alfaguara. 1999; O'Donnell,  Fr.Juan Manuel de Rosas, the damn of our official history . Buenos Aires: Aguilar. 2001; Pasquali, Fr.  San Martin confidential. Personal correspondence of the Liberator with his friend Tomás Guido (1816-1849).  Buenos Aires: Planet. 2000

Publication Date: 20/11/2020

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