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Urquiza, architect of the Nation

October is also the month of Justo José de Urquiza, an Entrerrian statesman who put the Homeland before his personal interests.

 Justo José de Urquiza

On the evening of April 9, 1870, about thirty men plotted a assassination in Arroyo Seco. Kill  Justo José de Urquiza . A strong man of Argentine politics for thirty years, a million-hectare owner and successful cattle rancher and protoindustrial, several times re-elected governor of Entre Ríos, was already an aging captain general,  our first constitutional president.   Sarmiento,  the current president in that year, had warned  Urquiza  that they wanted to kill him, on a visit to the majestic  San José Palace.   Urquiza , winner in a thousand battles, commander of the multinational Army Grande, and known for his implacability with the defeated, despite his famous “there will be no victors or vanquished”, was still believed to be invincible. And much less, they would attack him in their own domain. But in one room, La San Pedro, the homicidal hosts of  Ricardo López Jordán , who had been his provincial minister and harbored an old grudge for family matters, were placed under the orders of Colonel Simón Luengo, also a soldier protected by the federal leader in others epochs. It is known that  Urquiza  was mistrustful but also of great generosity without looking at who, as he left several “family issues” in Entre Ríos for countless natural children — and counting the eleven with his wife Dolores. Fact: in 1855 he had to issue a provincial decree to limit paternity claims.

It is already the afternoon of April 11, 1870. Summer is reluctant to leave and the sun warms up the grove near the Gualeguaychú River. In the modern residence of the Urquiza, the first in the country with running water, peace reigns before the storm. Dolores and Justa sing and play the piano with Professor Carlos Leist. Secretary Julian Medrano, who would be responsible for giving notice of the murder of Concepcion del Uruguay, and language teacher Antonio Suarez, talk in the courtyard about new measures that encourage interprovincial trade, flanked by figures of Greek mythology, and in the company of a sparse garnish. Too scarce. Dolores in the reception room, of a European luxury and English tableware with the name in family gold, relaxed talk with her mother and sisters. In the distance the dust rises. And it all starts to cloud. It's the appointed time. The gauchos in arms are determined over the gate and  Urquiza  shakes out of his seat and shouts “They're murderers, they're murderers! They're coming to kill me!” The tropers, several familiar faces that had accompanied him in the campaigns against the unitarians in the forties, or were in the  battle of Cepeda when he humiliated the porteños of Mitre , entered pure montonera and sapucai “Die the traitor of Urquiza! Long live General Lopez Jordán! Die the Tyrant! Die the friend of the porteños!” It's 19.30. “The rifle, Dolores, the rifle,” says Urquiza dressed in white in the first yard. “Take bastards! You don't kill a man like that in front of the family, you scoundrels” Shooting in front of the women and a shot by the Pardo Luna that hits the face of Urquiza. He survives badly by a gold prosthesis. Fallen to the ground, helpless, embraced by his daughters, Nicomedes Coronel finishes him like he cuts a cow. And when I was about to do the same with the wife and daughters, this is an Entrerrian soldier in poncho and grenadier boots, one-eyed Álvarez, “don't be afraid, I'm Captain Álvarez, with this dagger that I have killed your father I have to defend you”, narrates Hernán Oh, Brienza. From behind comes reluctant Luengo, in the background noise of broken crockery and rustling in the preparations for a hearty dinner. Look at the bloody painting coldly and points out, “Do not be afraid, ladies, with you it is not war. This is just a political death,” says who was the lieutenant of  Chacho Angel Vicente Peñaloza , a warlord who fought on a par with  Urquiza for the federal cause, and whose head ended up stacked in Plaza de Olta (La Rioja) with the complicity of Entrerriano. This was the end of the days of  Justo José de Urquiza, the father of the Argentine Constitution, the architect of the Nation. 

 Strange fruits 

Such a dreadful, lonely ending would not fit with the relevance of a man born on  October 18, 1801 in Talar del Arroyo Largo — today Arroyo Urquiza-,  a statesman who defies all the powerful of his time, from  Rosas  to the porteños, to the diplomáBritish and American politicians, and the Brazilian Empire. However, the key to the tragic end emerges silent, but persistent, understanding that  Urquiza  was also allied with all of them. Like the Paraguayans, who greatly helped the Argentine Confederation drowned by the secessionism of Buenos Aires, and ended up betraying with their support for the  War against Paraguay (1865-1870) , an attitude that was demonstrated when he denied support from the Entrerrians to the defenders of  Paysandú in 1865 , many of them with families across the river. Urquiza had her son Waldino. Then 15,000 men, Brazilians, Argentines and Uruguayans, slaughtered a thousand braves who stood for a month. The entire Litoral, including  Lopez Jordan , would never forget the view of the sister city on fire.

It is true that at that time he tried by all means to find a peaceful solution. Something we have to recognize throughout their trajectory.  Urquiza,  “had a vivid intelligence that supplied with plenty of advantage the lack of a vast erudition,” they said, before breaking spears he struggled for the agreement. He understood the law of the club, or of the slaughter, but longed to modernize, civilize, his homeland. And contrary to his first protector,  Juan Manuel de Rosas , who never trusted that Entrerriano, “be careful with your general,” he told Governor Pascual Echague in 1836 when they met in Palermo,  Urquiza thought that it was time for a constitution.

Without neglecting his business, which grew with modern salt houses and agriculture, Urquiza had built a solid military prestige, first fighting Rosism against  Lavalle, Paz, Ferré and Uruguayan Fructuoso Rivera , and, perhaps, building the best Argentine government since 1841. Entre Rios lived the so-called “golden age of education”, with one school per district, which included education for both sexes, encouraged colonization, commerce and industry, regulated justice, c praised militias with gauchos who owned their land,  and promoted economic agreements between regions. In the decade won in Entrerriana, the province competed on an equal footing with Buenos Aires, and outstripped it in education and infrastructure. All this inexorably led the country to learn in 1851 the famous pronouncement of May 1, anticipated in a circular of April 5, in which  Urquiza  called on the other governors to “save the Silver Republics from the deep abyss from whose peaks the genius hastened who presides over the councils of the Governor of Buenos Aires”  Roses  knew about it since 1836... and began to prepare for combat with his former ally. He manages that no province supports the request in the pronouncement, to delegate external representation to them, except Corrientes that was always anti-Rosita, and forces  Urquiza  to turn to Brazilians — not without later regrets of him until the day of his death. The Brazilian Empire meets armies, navy and thousands of patacones, who go to the Entrerian coffers. This time there were not English pounds, but Latin American currency, because the imperial Brazilians were concerned that the federal dream of a “Silver Republics” would be revived, spanning from Patagonia to Upper Peru, with Paraguay, Uruguay and part of southern Brazil, which had earned on the battlefield, and lost at the diplomatic table, during the  War against Brazil (1825-1828 ) With such support an inflamed Urquiza commanded a spectacular Large Army, of more than twenty thousand Argentines, Uruguayans and Brazilians, which was to be measured on Mount de Caseros, Santos Places, with a very similar force in number of gauchos, blacks and cozorkers, but less endowed militarily, and under the orders of a general Rosas, and defeated, before the first gunshot.

On February 3, 1852, the fate of Argentina was decided, one by respect for laws and institutions. At least, in one version. The one who speaks of “the winning army had fulfilled its mission by freeing the people from the bloody despotism that oppressed them,” said  Urquiza  victorious as soon as he arrived in Palermo, the once residence of  Roses  , and that he quickly established general oblivion of all grievances, urged the fellowship and merging of all political parties, and sent  Bernardo de Irigoyen through the provinces to form the Constituent Congress . Another says that “ the fall of Roses had not changed Urquiza, nor the country . In the evening of Caseros, he had Colonel Chilavert shot in the back, who was about to turn the battle around. At the same time federal Martin Santa Coloma, who had fought with Urquiza against the unitaries, was slaughtered by his order. That night the soldiers of Aquino, who refused to enlist with the Great Army, were shot and hung from the trees that perfumed the residence... Under those macabre fruits, strange fruits, paraded the ladies of Buenos Aires who visited the champion of freedom,” says Jorge Abelardo Ramos, based on testimonies from those present, asserts that  Mitre and Sarmiento  made lists of rosistas that “we have sworn will not be one” relative since cunning Urquiza builds a Buenos Aires government with several of them such as  Vicente López y Planes  , the author of the anthem, and  Dalmacio Velez Sarsfield , the father of the Argentine civil code. And it is other exrosists, plus some old men of Independence returning from Montevideo, who convince him to delay the triumphal parade with Brazilians although fatefully (sic) coincides with the 20th of February, victory day in  Ituzaingó (1827).   Urquiza  leads with a poncho and a plush galley with the headband punched, federal liberal at the end of the day not too far from  Rosas,  and quickly won the hatred of all Buenos Aires. At the end of the afternoon it prevents the slave imperials, who were surrendered to the prey of the city, from taking the Brazilian flags that they had lost in their own lands by the patriots of Rioplatans. And then, for decades, he will be one of the few Argentines who will help  Roses  financially in the poverty of English exile.

 Our common efforts are separated 

The road to the 1853 Santa Fe Constituent Assembly was paved due to  Urquiza  's strenuous effort to gather in San Nicolas previously the same governors who were in power years ago, the most  Sanjuanin Narciso Benavídez since 1836  , and that only were reached when the lifting of internal customs was signed, an instrument with which  Roses  suffocated the provinces. The agreement gave equal rights and income, even determined that each province would send two representatives to the assembly. That it was the future Republican and Federal nation was in the background. The porteños — and bonaerenses — ignored the agreement and a conflict began that was finally resolved only in 1880.

 Urquiza  at all times acted in accordance with conflicting conflicts, often against his personal ambitions, but convinced that Argentina needs a constitutional channel. Despite the harassment of Buenos Aires, which declared itself an autonomous state and played against all the resources of Customs, he held congressmen in Santa Fe from September 1852 to May 1853, in an austere city that did not reach six thousand inhabitants.  Juan María Gutiérrez, representing Entre Ríos, and Santiago José Gorostiaga , author of one of the most beautiful Argentine literary pieces, the Preamble, formed the editorial committee that was taking the suggestions of the congressmen, the “ Bases and starting points for the political organization of the Argentine Republic” by  Alberdi  , and various constitutions of the world. Contrary to the demand of  Urquiza,  which ordered its promulgation on May 1, 1853, and thus coincide with the exact two years of his famous pronouncement,  the Cordovan Juan del Campillo  finished the final version on the night of April 30.  Velez Sársfield  plots Urquiza's power,  even in the 1860 constitutional reform that already included Buenos Aires, “we were in a minority. There were 21 votes that rejected all reforms against 20 that we accepted them. We were preparing for strong debates, when a letter from  General Urquiza  came to one of the conventionals ordering the acceptance of the reforms made by the Buenos Aires Convention, which was enough for the reformed Constitution to be accepted,” concludes jurist in a recognition in which to speak of the national constitution, is to speak of Urquiza. A year later, the captain general withdrew from  Pavón,  knowing himself victorious and perhaps new president of a waning confederation, but leaving the triumph to the Buenos Aires and Bonaerenses in order to make the next  president, Mitre, the first of the whole Rep.uacute; blica Argentina.  Urquiza, a few months earlier, had written to Mitre, “our common efforts are separate, ever since you were again at the head of a circle of separatists and exalts who had always opposed union.”

Sources: Brienza, H.  Urquiza, the wild . Buenos Aires: Aguilar. 2016; Cibotti, E.  Minimal stories of our history.  Buenos Aires: Aguilar. 2011; Pasquali, P.  The Liberal Institution. Urquiza, Mitre and a forgotten statesman: Nicasio Oroño . Buenos Aires: Planet. 2003

Publication Date: 24/10/2020

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Presidentes Argentinos - Justo José de Urquiza (1854 – 1860) Argentine Presidents - Justo José de Urquiza (1854 — 1860)
Palacio San José The mansion of Urquiza


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