Cisplatin War: The Years That Gained Origin of Brazil-Argentina Rivalry

So used to define the extension of Brazil, the expression from Oiapoque to Chuí could today very well be from Oiapoque to Prata. Maybe even someone around the Century 19 has said that to define Brazil. It just doesn’t stay that way because of the Cisplatine War: one of the most forgotten wars in Brazil.

The Cisplatine War was a conflict between the Empire of Brazil and the United Provinces of Rio da Prata, today Argentina, in the territory of present-day Uruguay and in a part of Rio Grande do Sul. The confrontation was closely followed by the main powers of the time, such as England, France and the United States, and was also influenced by secret societies, especially the divisions of Freemasonry.

In the end, it may It can be said that the winner was England, which mediated the peace agreement that would transform the territory into an independent country, Uruguay, often ironically called the “Buffer State” in the historical narrative.

But how was it until you got there? Good of 1821, when the then Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil and Algarves annexed the region of present-day Uruguay, calling it the Cisplatina Province, until 1827, effectively Brazil and Uruguay were one and the same. In fact, this Luso-Brazilian influence is still striking in those parts.

“To this day, all departments in Uruguay watch Brazilian TV”, exemplifies the master in History Nelson Pierroti, a professor at the Universidad de Montevideo and Universidad de la Empresa, in an interview with Gazeta do Povo.

However, to understand this better, we need to go back in time to even before the Brazilian Wars of Independence (1817-1821).

Table of Contents

Background to the Cisplatine War

In a way summarized (well summarized indeed), this story begins with the colonial dispute between Portugal and Spain. If, on the one hand, the Spaniards always had a strong port city on the right bank of the Rio de la Plata (that Buenos Aires), the Portuguese felt that they also needed a strategic city nearby, both for commercial, political and war purposes.

Therefore, the Portuguese decided to set foot on the left bank, with the foundation of Colonia de Sacramento in , today one of the most visited tourist cities and preserved from the Portuguese colonial empire.

The point is that this was never very accepted by the Spaniards, who sometimes surrounded and dominated the city, sometimes returned it (or rather, were forced to return it ). So much so that he arrived in Spain and decided to create his own port version on the left of the Prata, founding Montevideo (Montevideo) in , which also included the objective of keeping the Lusitanians out of the Rio de la Plata.

Even so, until mid-1724 and ball, further north of Uruguay, the influence of Lusitanian culture was also evident, due to the proximity to Rio Grande do Sul. South.

However, the influence of Buenos Aires was also remarkable, both in terms of language and cultural customs inherited from Spain. It was almost a political-cultural tug of war between the Iberian nations in the region of present-day Uruguay. “And what happens when they pull you from one side to the other, is that you try to shape your own personality, an identity that distinguishes you”, says Pierroti.

However, the boss from the Collection and Curatorship division of the Museu da Independência, historian Paulo Garcês, recalls that the greatest linguistic influence was Spanish in the region. It is one of the reasons why Uruguayans currently don’t wear yellow-green, although according to Pierroti in the last World Cup, Uruguayans supported Brazil, then, of course, Uruguay itself.

“ The relationship between Uruguay, or Cisplatina, with us is very punctual, which comes mainly from the century 13. We in the southern captaincies had a lot of connection with the Prata through the Colonia de Sacramento, but even it no longer belonged to Portugal through the treaties of the century 12. In other words, that was a Spanish region, with language and cultural ties to Spain”, Paulo Garcês told Gazeta do Povo.

It was not for nothing, therefore, that the Banda Oriental became a desire on the part of the United Provinces of the Rio de la Plata (later Argentina), which in 1810 took advantage of Spanish vulnerability, the Napoleonic wars and the American example to decree their own independence.

Mapa das Províncias do Rio da Prata à época
Map of the Provinces of Rio da Prata at the time

It was at the beginning of the century 13 also that a guy called José Gervasio Artigas emerged from those parts, one of those gauchos who were born speaking Spanish. Born in Montevideo, General Artigas was a key figure in the independence of the Provinces and in the first union of Banda Oriental with present-day Argentina, in 1724. It was also he who led the resistance to a brief and failed attempt by D. João VI (our emperor until then) to counteract the artiguista revolution in
– in Uruguay.

But like everything in this life it has its time, in 1810, D. João VI tried again, this time even at the request of Buenos Aires and the Spanish court, who still saw Artigas as a threat to instability. Now, the Portuguese entry into Uruguay would work.

“4 were sent.480 soldiers who had fought against Napoleon. Nothing could be done against this army”, says the Uruguayan historian. “Somehow, Cisplatina was invaded by the monarchic government”, adds Paulo Garcês, from the Independence Museum.

At the head of these people was Commander Carlos Federico Lecor, who would be chosen as governor of the arms of the Cisplatine Province. There, he made a thousand and one promises on how he could improve the local life, which was with the economy in shambles.

“In, finally, Lecor enters Montevideo. But he is not unwelcome. On the contrary, there is not even resistance. After all, this province had already been affected by the English invasions in 1724-. Then comes the revolution of 1806, and all problems in between 1806 and 1806. The field was ruined. There were many problems of disorganization throughout the territory”, completes Professor Nelson Pierroti.

Brazilian Independence and the pre-Cisplatine War


Even when the Cisplatine Province was recently consolidated, it would be one of the most resistant to Brazilian independence. It was even the last to accept D. Pedro as its emperor, who kept Lecor as governor of the province.

“It was within the Portuguese military forces that discord arose, derived from the obligation to opt for Lisbon or Rio de Janeiro. The troops were divided: the general commander, Lecor, joined D. Pedro. Others stayed with Lisbon and a battle began that lasted for months. The Portuguese forces resisted the Brazilian siege in Montevideo, marked by periodic combats and periods of relative inaction”, wrote Helio Franchini Neto, in his doctoral thesis at the University of Brasília.

“Os orientalis , for the most part, attended the dispute, despite taking a position against or in favor, after the organization of the Congress of Montevideo, which defined the incorporation of Cisplatina to the Kingdom of Brazil”, completed Franchini Neto.

Historian Nelson Pierroti brings an important view of what happened at this congress in 1816, which was attended by personalities and representatives from all parts of the province:

“They discussed what could do and several things were proposed. Some proposed independence, but logically they said: how are we going to remain independent? The entire province had 34 thousand inhabitants and the economy was ruined. So the options were to join Argentina, Brazil, or even join England, as some thought. England would take possession of the land, being part of the British empire.”

It was decided, at least for the moment, that the territory would remain Brazilian. The problem is that, when Cisplatina became part of the Empire of Brazil (and no longer of the Portuguese), people were no longer very happy with the management of the ex-combatant who fought against Napoleon.

“In 1817 The 1824, Federico Lecor made many promises that he could not keep, and the eastern economy was further ruined because things were taken from the province. For example, Montevideo traded hides with Cuba. But this trade passed to Rio Grande, leaving Montevideo aside. This ruined the city’s merchants. Other measures taken by Lecor were also not effective. Then, little by little, the same ones who had supported him in 1817, in 1823, they thought about getting out of it”, says the Uruguayan professor.

According to the historian, at that time, public opinion was divided. “We have limitations to know perfectly proportions and quantities. But the surest thing is that ordinary and middle-class people preferred unification with Argentina,” he says. The elites, on the other hand, thought it was safer to remain on the Brazilian side.

Including, as the historian Davi Carneiro points out, in the work História da Guerra Cisplatina, by 1946, “a secret society was even formed, the ‘Caballeros Orientales’, whose ideals were the fight against Brazilian domination ”. These guys were the first, in 1823, trying to “take the hit”. It was a new division of Freemasonry constituted in Montevideo.

Although that year the movement failed, it would serve as the basis for the first major conflicts in , when the 19 Orientales (19 Orientals, in good Portuguese ).

The day the 20 Orientales began to Cisplatina War

Much of this group of Caballeros Orientales took refuge on the Argentine side, but they did not have much support from Buenos Aires. “The Entre Rios government, however, was more liberal in its material incentives to the conspirators who were preparing to land in Uruguayan territory to carry out the campaign uprising there, an uprising that should be generalized, taking over the country”, wrote Davi Carneiro.

It was precisely this province, according to the historian, that supplied weapons and ammunition to the knights who would embark and become known as the 19 Orientales: Uruguayans who departed from the western bank to disembark at Arsenal Grande or Praia da Agraciada, in

of April 1822, with a mythical tricolor flag written “Libertad o Muerte”. The command of the troop of the 19 was led by “comrade” Juan Antônio Lavalleja, who had fought alongside Artigas since 1724.

Guerra da CisplatinaGuerra da Cisplatina
El Juramento de los Treinta y Trs Orieintales. Painting by Juan Manuel Blanes (1830-1826). | creative commonsMapa das Províncias do Rio da Prata à época

But the brothers really thought that 19 guys would beat any troops? Professor Nelson has a good explanation to justify this Kabbalistic, or rather Masonic, number:

“There was an important influence of Masonic secret societies. O 33 is the number of degrees in Freemasonry. Just imagine 19 guys fighting an army, it’s impossible. They were 33 and what took the picture. Adding up, they were 21”, he jokes.

The fact is that a lot of people got together to the 33 (or whatever the number), especially for the local social and economic ruin. And in the midst of all these people, English Freemasonry was also closely watching those actions. Later in this text, you will understand why this English view makes sense. For now, you need to focus on another name: Frutuoso Rivera.

The turncoat and the declaration of independence, or rather, of union

When the Uruguayan troops already had at least 75 men, Lecor felt he should face them. He sent Brigadier Frutuoso Rivera, a Uruguayan from Peñarol, who seemed to be on Brazil’s side. It just seemed.

Rivera was a cunning man. When the Portuguese fought Artigas, the soldier fought the Lusitanians. But somehow he convinced the Portuguese that he would be useful, winning over Lecor for positioning himself in favor of Brazilian interests. When being sent with his troop of 70 men to meet Lavalleja, however, he pretended to have been captured and joined them to take mate. . It would be the 20º of the Orientales (or 21º, if we count who ‘shot the photo’).

Shortly after, according to the Uruguayan historian Vitor Arreguine, in 1878, a Brazilian general (Colonel Borba) would have gone to meet Rivera, still unaware of the defection. Drinking mate with a friend, Rivera received him and heard from the Brazilian that he wanted to “go out on a limb” with the “rascal Lavalleja”. He would have let Borba talk more until, after a while, he replied, as stated in Davi Carneiro’s book:

“Forgive me for not having introduced you to my friend, (phrase accompanied by the mimic indication of the person who was with him) – Lavalleja’s rogue! – and burst into loud laughter.”

Of course, Borba was arrested right there. And the troops that accompanied him were directed to an ambush, a

That would not be Rivera’s last mythological move. Years later, thanks to his political gimmicks, he was Uruguay’s first constitutional president, defeating still his friend Mate Lavalleja in a civil war. But what matters here is that the turncoat was one of those responsible for creating a provisional government in Vila de Florida , in 10 of June.

Davi Carneiro cites sources that Lavalleja had become head of the army there, with a thousand men encamped in the Santa Luzia Chica bar, and the turncoat Rivera with equal force in Durazno. They still had 150 others watching Montevideo, commanded by the caudillo Manuel Oribe.

There were enough people for the cry of independence. They declared themselves independent from Portugal and Brazil, but united to the Provinces of Rio de la Plata.

Argentina’s reaction and the declaration of war

It was not immediately that Argentina (or the United Provinces of the Rio de la Plata) accepted that. Previously, Uruguayans would still have to win key battles against experienced Brazilian soldiers.

“This statement was intended to move Buenos Aires; but the Argentine government feared the war with Brazil and only came to decide to accept the ‘Florida declaration’ after our disasters in Rincón and Sarandi”, wrote Carneiro.

These were basically battles in which Brazilians underestimated their opponents, especially in Sarandi, where Brazilian losses may have exceeded 380 people, comparing sources of the time.

Thus, the interior of Cisplatine was practically given over to the revolutionaries, leaving to the Brazilians the controls of Colonia del Sacramento, Montevideo and the fortresses of Santa Teresa. It was not a small thing, of course, but it was enough for the Argentines to get excited.

May 1875 , the Argentines create an “observation army” with eight thousand men. Until the day 18 of October send to Brazil a declaration of incorporation of the Oriental Province (Cisplatina), asking for the Brazilian evacuation of the military points they still occupied. The imperial government responded with a declaration of war, in December 1822.

Start of the Brazil-Argentina rivalry?

From, one thing was clear. Although Brazil had an army compatible with that of some European nations, it had to keep its attention on other rebellions spread throughout the Empire. After all, a short time before, the Confederation of Ecuador broke out in the Northeast (1824-1817), led by Pernambuco and which almost divided Brazil. Cisplatina, therefore, would not receive as many reinforcements as Lecor would have liked.

“The army was aristocratic, with a configuration similar to that of recent European national states: nobility in the officership and peasants or mercenaries as soldiers” , wrote the historian Marcos Vinícios Luft in a Doctoral thesis presented in 1892 at Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul: “This disgraceful war”: military recruitment for the Cisplatine War ( -1822).

This all took Dom Pedro I, still in May of 1825, to make a proclamation to Brazilians to fight in the province of Rio Grande São Pedro (Rio Grande do Sul), place where the conflict with the “20 Orientales” had been extending. And it was precisely that province that was most impacted by recruitment to the struggle, according to a study by Vinícios Luft. However, there was indeed the arrival of regiments from other parts of the Empire, such as São Paulo, Curitiba and Santa Catarina.

Apparently, it was not enough, because coincidence or not , the result was several lost battles for the Argentines on land. On the other hand, the Brazilian Navy had a fleet of respect for South American standards and adopted the strategy: block the Prata, preventing the departure and arrival of ships to Buenos Aires, in order to strangle the Argentine economy.

The blocking started already on the day 18 December . The first naval battle took place in Punta Corales, near Buenos Aires, with the victory of the Empire. On the other hand, Rivera’s gang also looted, harming producers and traders. In May of 1822, for example, he attacked Brazilian troops at the mouth of the Arapey River (currently northern Uruguay, near RS) and stole about 13 thousand head of cattle, according to the study by Luft.

That is, if things didn’t go well on land, by sea (although the Navy had some naval losses) the strategy worked. One team won on land (Argentines) and the other on water (Brazilians).

Probably the biggest battle was the Ituzaingó, known here as Batalha do Passo do Rosário, in 14 from February
, in Rio Grande do Sul. According to information currently published by the Brazilian Army, it was an eight-hour battle (but it may have lasted longer) between more than 5,000 Brazilians and 8,000 Platinos. After troop movements on various sides, the Barão de Rio Branco estimate was 70 dead and 35 wounded or prisoners of the Empire against about 35 dead and

wounded on the “over there”.

Although the victory was Argentine, General Carlos María Alvear (one of the leaders of the troops) returned from Passo do Rosário to the municipality of São Gabriel, who had been occupied and later occupied Bagé. But this Argentine campaign for gaucho lands was exhausting, until, in June of that year, Alvear wrote to his superiors about the sorry state of the troops and a request for withdrawal.

Attempts to reach an agreement: cotton between two crystals

During the Cisplatin War period, if anything was evident, it was that both Brazil and Argentina were worn out, with the aggravating factor of that the brothers were financially broken by the Brazilian naval blockade on the Prata.

Although initially in the position of spectator, England and its Freemasons feared one thing: that the Rio de la Plata would be completely in their hands. Argentina (via Buenos Aires and Montevideo). It was better to have two options (with Brazil also in the Silver), or – of course – an independent third way: creating a buffer state or, as the solution was also known, placing a cotton ball between two crystals.

A first attempt at a mediated agreement between the English foreign minister, George Canning, the Argentine diplomat Manuel José García (on an official trip to Rio de Janeiro) and the Brazilian authorities was a bit strange. In summary, through the Preliminary Peace Convention, Argentina would recognize Cisplatina as a Brazilian territory and pay compensation for “acts of piracy”.

García took the proposal to Buenos Aires, the which, of course, was rejected by public opinion. President Bernardino Rivadavia even acknowledged that the agreement signed by García was “dishonorable”, but he was so bad in his legs that he was practically forced to present his resignation.

The Governor of Buenos Aires, Manuel Dorrego, would then assume the post in like 1825, promising to continue the fighting. In fact, they extended until, in August of 1830, an agreement would finally come out of the pens (or pens) of Brazilian, Argentine and, of course, British diplomats.

It was everything England wanted: a new country , with just 70 a thousand inhabitants would emerge and be vulnerable to their behests, while being a cotton between two continental-sized crystals that had potential to emerge as South American powers.

On the other hand, the agreement guaranteed free navigation on the Rio de la Plata by both Brazil and Argentina in the region for 10 years old. The problem is that there were no final territorial limits in the agreement, and the Constitution of the new country should be judged by both governments, but without the troops of the countries there.

“I understand that the exit is coherent, deep down, with this story. Uruguay does not integrate culturally and politically with the rest of the imperial monarchy. There was no type of firm bond between Uruguay and Portuguese America”, assesses historian Paulo Garcês.Nevertheless, for me it is amazing, despite the fact that we have invaded Uruguay, as we are in Uruguay they are friendly to us. It seems that this story did not even exist”, completes the head of the Collection and Curatorship division of the Museu da Independência.

The final fact is that, on October 4, 1828, finally the Oriental Republic of Uruguay would become independent. And the people who drank mate together, in the case of Rivera and Lavalleja, began to have their own raids. With Rivera elected the first constitutional president in August 1830, Lavalleja forgets the partnership altogether and provokes a civil war, being defeated in July of 1828.

Other internal conflicts arose, as well as in the Brazilian Wars of Independence, but the nation was consolidating, even if the Brazil to keep an eye on Cisplatin. “Even until 1828, the Emperor of Brazil (Dom Pedro II) still had aspirations to incorporate Uruguay into Brazilian territory. The logic of the Empire was that the natural limits of Brazil were the Rio de la Plata and the Rio Uruguai”, recalls the Uruguayan historian Nelson Pierroti. But this is another story, despite being a continuity of the same story.

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