According to Countryaah, in May 1810, a liberal revolution broke out in Buenos Aires, but it was thwarted by the bourgeoisie of Montevideo, who enjoyed the trade monopoly with Spain. But in the interior of the Banda Oriental, they supported small and medium landowners as well as the landless insurgency. They were led by José Artigas and he developed ideas about democracy and federalism. At the same time, his sympathy for the gauchos, the natives and the slaves, as well as his land redistribution project made him the leader of the independence movement.
At the same time, Portuguese forces invaded Brazil, and the fighting became triangular between Spain, Portugal and Artigas’ Creole forces. At the same time, there were clear contradictions between the Creole leaders in Buenos Aires who wanted a centralized administration throughout the La Plata area, and Artigas who, along with several other Argentine « caudillos»Stood for a federal line. The Portuguese forces retreated in 1812 and Montevideo fell to the Buenos Aires government. However, Artigas’ forces controlled the rest of the Banda Oriental, and in 1815 the Buenos Aires forces withdrew. Artigas now assumed power throughout Banda Oriental and formed a Federal League consisting of Banda Oriental and the Argentine provinces of Córdoba, Corrientes, Entre Ríos, Misiones and Santa Fe in opposition to the central government of Buenos Aires.
In 1816, the Banda Oriental was again invaded by Portuguese forces with tacit support from the bourgeoisie of Buenos Aires and Montevideo, who were terrified of what they considered the “arteguist chaos”. In 1817, Montevideo fell and the federal league gradually weakened due to internal strife and the ever-stronger position of the Buenos Aires government. After three years of war, Artigas was forced into exile in Paraguay, where he stayed until his death in 1850, and the Banda Oriental was incorporated into the Portuguese colonial empire. In 1823, Brazil became independently, but Uruguay immediately continued as a “Platonic province” in the new independent state. In 1825, however, the province – with Argentine support – initiated a campaign against the Brazilian empire with the aim of returning to the United Río de la Plata Provinces. On August 25, the area declared itself independent and at the same time decided to be reunited with the other provinces of the old Viceroy.
With British mediation, the war between Buenos Aires and Río de Janeiro ended in 1828 with the country becoming independent. Uruguay’s constitution was adopted on July 18, 1830, giving voting rights to “the men who did not depend on wage labor to live” – ie. landowners. One of the rebel leaders, Fructuoso Rivera, was now elected the country’s first president. Due. his relations with Argentine exile centralists he came into conflict with the federalist Argentine dictator Juan Manuel de Rosas, while Uruguay became involved in internal strife in Brazil. Already in 1834, this led to a military uprising in Uruguay, led by Juan Antonio Lavalleja – one of the 33 patriots who started the national uprising in 1825.
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The rebellion was turned down, despite being supported by Argentine dictator Rosas. This was only the first in a long series of military rebellions and disputes that shaped Uruguay’s history in the 19th century. As early as 1836, Rivera led a new rebellion against his successor, Manuel Oribe, who now received support from Lavalleja, but who nevertheless had to give up in 1838.
Out of these personal contradictions between the leaders – caudillos – in the civil war, the two traditional political parties in Uruguay crystallized: Blancos and Colorados. Blancos was a supporter of Oribe and has generally been considered the most conservative and village-based party. Colorados was Rivera’s party and is considered more liberal and with greater association with Montevideo. The names come from the color of the hat bands used by the two parties’ military forces to be identified during the civil wars – white (blank) and red (colorado).
After his victory in 1838, Rivera was re-elected president, and he began a war against Argentina, which continued more or less permanently until 1852. After the peace settlement, Colorados continued as the dominant party in Uruguay, and Blancos was almost permanent in opposition. Throughout the century, Blanco’s constant revolt and coup attempt – even while the country, along with Brazil and Argentina, waged a victorious war against Paraguay 1865-70. In 1865, Colorado dictator Venancio Flores, along with the other countries, had formed the Triplian Alliance, which aimed at European support to force Paraguay to open its borders to trade with the outside world.
Colonel Lorenzo Latorre was the dictator of the country in 1876-79, and under him a fencing of the land was carried out in favor of the large landowners’ cattle production. At the same time, the country became more closely linked to the capitalist world market dominated by Britain. The fencing of the lands led to the disappearance of the free gauchos. The Gauchos instead became land workers on the large estates.