The American independence process had its gestures that did not end in 1816 with Argentine Independence, nor with San Martín's entry into Lima in 1821, nor in Bolivar's libertating victories. During the 19th century the young Latin American states, without constitutions, fewer republican and federal institutions, had to endure with what they had at hand, the aggressions of renewed European imperialism, a proud England and a wound France, along with the advances of their own close neighbors, imperialism Brazilian slave owner, and American expansionism. There are more examples, France bombards the Mexican coast by a french confectioner disappointed, England usurps the Falkland Islands , United States invades Texas with excuses, Brazil conspires against the Governments of Buenos Aires and Asunción. The English Prime Minister said clearly to the House of Lords, Lord Palmerston, “So far Silver, Amazon and Orinoco and their tributaries have not been used for commercial traffic inland, but in the near future (thanks to steam navigation) will be able to; n use these tracks for commercial purposes” Then those steamboats, heavily gunned, will try to guns.
The strategy of the colonialists of those years was to hit and negotiate, and their fleets were in the seas waiting for opportunities. In the case of the reactionary France had mobilized by the end of 1837 a vast Navy to Montevideo, which in an alleged protection of the defense of French immigrants had been erected in a quasi colony. There they had the support of the seditious Rivera, who did not recognize President Manuel Oribe, ally of Juan Manuel de Rosas, and the anti-Rosist exiles, the sadly stateless Commissionn Argentina with Valentín Alsina, Florencio Varela and many others.Sad not only because they were compatriots who supported foreign invasions in order to overthrow the “tyrant monster, vampire” Roses, but also because of the damage to the national image in the world: Rivera Indarte writes “Tablas de sangre” funded by an English publishing house with the detail that they are paid two and a half pence for every violent death of the Cob that appeared in the libel. Varela stamped 480 on a little pin that first appeared in English.
With the international press against, that Rosas was trying to counteract by bribing European journalists through his consul Manuel Moreno, Mariano's brother, and the powers of the moment allied to the unitarians, and federal opponents, all pointing at his head, the hours of the Restorer of the Laws seemed to run out.However, they did not know that the boy Juan Manuel had thrown stones and hot water in the British Invasions of 1806 and 1807, and was decorated by Liniers. And he defended in the papers, and with weapons, the dream of the Patria Grande at that time against the aggression of the Bolivian-Peruvian Confederation of Santa Cruz, a former realistic general, and the territorial claims of Paraguayan Carlos Antonio López, who wanted to keep a part of Corrientes y Misiones. Soon the world would know him, in that mix of gaucha vividness and political cunning that allowed him to lead the Argentine Confederation for a quarter of a century, and would be called the “Gran Americano” from Santiago de Chile to Boulogne-Sur-Mer.
First round: French blockade 1838-1840 or La Guerra del Plata
In July 1837, French Minister Molé ordered the French fleet to settle in the Buenos Aires rada, under the command of Rear Admiral Leblanc. The imprisonment of lithographer Cesar Bacle, who had made plans for the Bolivian invading forces, and Pierre Lavié, a recent French nationalized, and convicted of a robbery in Dolores. In addition, the ultimatum added the exception to the forced cam for Gauls citizens, in an equation of the English who enjoyed that privilege from Rivadavia, and which Rosas extended in his excellent relations with British merchants - rather the route of exile was England, although there he lived poor and guarded.In one of the typical war of nerves of taste of the governor, and unknown to an inexperienced vice-consul Roger, relations worsened until the representative government of the national Confederation, with a power emanated in the Federal Pact of 1831, spelled on him “ to demand over his mouth of the barrel privileges that can only be granted by treaties, is to what this government, as insignificant as it wants, will never submit.” From May 1838 the French blockade was officially declared and the Argentine Confederation declared war on the mighty France. To weigh the magnitude of this first confrontation hidden by classical historiography, France sent 36 ships that joined 17, and shipped 6,000 soldiers, while British Beresford in 1806 took Buenos Aires with 1600 and some ships.
In 1839, Lieutenant Colonel Jerónimo Costa's 110 braves on Martín García Island resisted to the last pellet to a thousand French and Uruguayans , and the closed fire of the Gallic ships that were sailing harassed by the squalid but brave national navy under Admiral Brown's command. A very real threat of invasion began that extended 900 days, “The Silver War,” and which was the chance for the perfidious unitary reaction under General Lavalle, one that reached the gates of the city the following year. It also stimulated smuggling by damaging the public coffers of the entire Confederation. This motivated protectionist and punitive measures of a state at war, and organized mainly gauchos, blacks and Indians militias that repelled professional armies over and over again.
“In June they were able to step on land near the Arroyo del Sauce” - said Adolfo Saldías - but they were rejected by the militiamen of the Comandante Valle, leaving some dead and among them Lieutenant Rendón. That was how the ill-armed militiamen humiliated the pride of their unjust aggressors. To defend the ground there was behind Rosas a virile village to which they should conclude to obtain the same thing they had demanded by guns in Mexico and Algiers ” in a fact that had been repeated in Zárate and Magdalena, the last coast where the gauchos on horseback came to fire several ships. Courage in defense of Argentine soil, in the face of the relative indifference of several governors, including Urquiza, which was enriched by the smuggling of leather and meat, and the stubborn and intelligent diplomacy bases the national interests of the “barbarian” Rosas, paid off only in 1840 with the Arana agreementMackau. It was basically the humiliating capitulation of the French to the Argentines. Even Rosas got the French to return two gunships and not a weight left the treasure to Europe - at that time these kinds of actions were a substitute for piracy and prey, Mexico after “The War of the Pastels” oblized thousands of gold pesos. Among the causes of the change of attitude of the European monarchical forces is the indisputable Americanist fervor that had aroused on the Continent, similar to the Wars of Independence, and which jeopardized foreign business. The legend of Rosas, the “Gran Americano” By the way, Rosas also made French ships say goodbye to the Argentine waters, waving the homeland flag with 21 guns.
Winning a battle is not winning the war: Return of Obligado
As Rosas knew that offense was not going to be forgotten and in 1845 relations with France were again tense, with England's aggregate. After the overwhelming victory of the feds in India Muerta, Uruguay, under Urquiza, the remnants of the army of Rivera, Uruguayans, Argentines antirosists and French, take refuge in Montevideo. Rosas determined to liquidate the resistance inside and outside the country, besieges the Uruguayan city by land, with its ally Oribe, and by sea, with Admiral Brown. But Frenchman Admiral Lancé once again meddled by supporting the besieged in the name of a “mediation for peace” Rosas then decrees that no ship that has passed through Montevideo touches Buenos Aires port. In response, foreigners capture the only three Argentine navy ships, including San Martín, and invade the rioplatense coasts with a policy of looting and rape commanded by Garibaldi - hero of Italian unification, its criminal passage in Argentina and Uruguay is far away. of the bronze that rises today in Plaza Italia.
In August in the fifth of Palermo in San Benito the compadres Rosas and Lucio N. Mansilla plan how to face the two powers of the moment. It's as if the United States and China are declaring war on us today. And they think of laying resistant lines from coast to coast, along the Paraná River. After discarding a fortification in Las Hermanas, at the suggestion of Thurner, one of the 110 braves that had resisted in Martín García in 1839, it was decided to fortify the place Vuelta de Obligado, on the right bank of the river, and protected by the difficulties that the main canal facilitates. And it installs four batteries, dated, of low caliber, few cannons, Manuelita, Mansilla, Brown and Restorador Rosas - the last in command of an Álvaro Alsogaray, ironies of history, great-grandfather of an ultraliberal politician of the 20th century. About two thousand patriots among gauchos, Indians and blacks, and the support of the Patricios' Regiment of St. Nicholas, were preparing to enter glory in front of a combined French and English steamed armada, which came with a hundred modern cannons, experienced sailors and mercenaries, and protecting dozens of boats mercantiles. At the front was the renamed Saint Martin , Brown's Argentine flagship that had been hacked. That view raised even more argentines even though the dozens of Argentine flags on whitewashed lanchons, stilts and chains encouraged sovereign struggle.
“There you have them! Consider the insult they make to the sovereignty of our homeland, by navigating, without title but force, the waters that flow through the territory of our country, but they will not get it with impunity!” — said Mansilla in the mention of Pacho O'Donnell; and it was the crux of the struggle: the requirement of the powers for the free movement of rivers, something that would enshrine the liberal Constitution of 1853- “ Tremola in Paraná the blue and white pavilion, and we must die all before seeing him come down from where he flames” At the end of the Argentine anthem, played by the Patricios, and at the cry of “Viva la Patríos” the Creoles unload their fire, throw with what they have, be it ammunition or homemade bullets . It was 8.43 in the morning of November 20, 1845.
They immediately disuse Saint Martin and the national brig “Republican”, commanded by Captain Craig, exhausts their ammunition leaving imposing steamers out of combat. The inequality was evident, the fight was not going to last, and yet all day they resist the four batteries, with gauchos to the race that takes back the sabbonas and boleadoras the invaders. Thorne shoots horseshoes from the Manuelita battery and was exhausted too - they say he received a bomb, stopped the saying “it was nothing” and continued to fight. Lieutenant José Romero when the projectiles ran out, he threw himself to a melee without weapons, to his fists, to death. At the end of the afternoon, English commander Hontham personally embarks on a landing of a thousand French and British against a hundred brave commander of Mansilla, who falls wounded by shrapnel fire with the bayonet in his hand. In the heat of the battle, several women from San Nicolas and San Pedro died who fought with their companions and, in addition, they were assisting the wounded with Petrona Simonino's directives . A whole militia of blacks, freed by Rosas, lies on the restorative battery. 250 Argentines are killed and 400 injured . The invaders pass and Florencio Varela congratulates them from Montevideo. But it was such the damage that the invading fleet was violated that made it terribly difficult to navigate upstream, and added to the contempt of the Latin American ports that played to trade in vain, plus the harassment of the Mansilla militias that won resonant triumphs in San Lorenzo -the same sanmartiniano gloria field, Tonelero and Punta del Quebracho, circumstantial defeat eventually transformed into a victory of Argentine weapons . Rosas's strategy, which also combined razed lands and guerrilla attacks on hungry foreign ships, determined the triumph of the “ Paraná Campaign” , one of the brightest leaves of the struggles for independence, now that it claimed economic sovereignty.oacute; mica. One that has not yet been studied in the classroom.
“The failure of international pressure against Buenos Aires increased prestige and adorned with legend and popularity the bleak face of Juan Manuel de Rosas,” says Brazilian historian Pedro Calmon, adverse to Rosas, quoted by Osvaldo Cura, “For a foreign mistake (sic) became in the largest South American Creole ... towards him the whole of South America turned his gaze moved. If they needed a sword to fight the intruder, they would summon him, the gentleman of the Pampa. The titanic stature of the Argentine dictator cast a wide shadow on the continent; behind the ships of the blockade he trembled in the air with his poncho punzó. He challenged the powers of the world”
Sources: Cura, O. The penultimate war of the Restorer in magazine “Everything is Historia” no. 595 February 2017. Buenos Aires; Galvez, M. Life of Don Juan Manuel de Rosas . Buenos Aires: Trivium editions. 1971; O'Donnell, P. The great epic. The Battle of the Return of Obligado. Buenos Aires: Aguilar 2012
Periodista y productor especializado en cultura y espectáculos. Colabora desde hace más de 25 años con medios nacionales en gráfica, audiovisuales e internet. Además trabaja produciendo Contenidos en áreas de cultura nacionales y municipales. Ha dictado talleres y cursos de periodismo cultural en instituciones públicas y privadas.