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Jose Artigas
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Patriot
    (June 19, 1764-September 23, 1850)
    Born in Montevideo, Uruguay
    General Jose Gervasio Artigas
    National hero of Uruguay; 'the father of Uruguayan nationhood'
    Commander of the people of the Banda Orientale
    Served in the Argentine War of Independence; later the Argentine Civil Wars
    Led the Oriental Revolution, in the United Provinces of the Río de la Plata
    Joined the fight to free the Eastern Bank (present-day Uruguay), in February of 1811
    Led the Banda Orientales to victory in the crucial Battle of La Piedras (May 18, 1811)
    Organized the Liga de los Pueblos Libres (League of the Free Peoples), in 1814
    Defeated by the Portuguese in the Luso Brazillian Invasion, and was banished to the Candelaria region of Paraguay, in September of 1820, where he died at the age of 86
    Namesake for The Military Order of Merit of the Companions of Artigas (El Orden Militar al Mérito Tenientes de Artigas), a military decoration in Uruguay
    First buried, later re-interned, at the Panteón Nacional in 1855; Remains were eventually transferred to the Artigas Mausoleum in the centre of the Plaza Independencia in Montevideo, Uruguay (June 19, 1977)
    He was a notorious womanizer.
    He was estranged from his parents.
    He started cattle smuggling into Brazilian territory in his late teens.
    His newfound career as a smuggler made him a wanted man among lawmen and hacienda owners; so much so that a reward was put out for capture, dead or alive.
    He began his military career only in negotiation with the Spanish viceroy and his family; joining the Corps to avoid imprisonment.
    He is the namesake for a giant extinct rodent (whose fossils were found in Urugay).
    He allegedly asked to be put back on top of a horse so he could die as he had lived, as a gaucho in the saddle.
    Uruguay's government and academia vilified him excessively until the authoritarians started commandeering his good name to justify their oppressive policies (making him into a mythic colonial superhero).
    He was in exile during the years that Uruguay actually achieved its independence and formed its political parties.
    His birthday is celebrated as a Uruguayan national holiday.
    He contributed to the design of the first Uruguay flag, which is now known as 'the Artigas flag.'
    He was the namesake for an entire socioeconomic political line of thought; Artiguism.
    His Spanish grandfather had helped to found the city he was born in.
    He left a wealthy, well-connected family of privilege to become a cowboy on the Argentine plains.
    He was an expert horseman, who learned to ride from the gauchos he came in contact with on his family's farms.
    He commanded great loyalty from the men who served under him. He was wounded during the British invasions of the Río de la Plata.
    When events turned against him after his early victories against the Spanish in 1811, he went into voluntary exile in Argentina.
    To his surprise, he was followed by thousands of devoted countrymen (families, gauchos, cattle, oxcarts). This remarkable event has since become known as the Uruguay's 'Exodus of the East Village.'
    He was sold out by political allies who sought favors from the Europeans. He was a beloved figure in the small Paraguayan town he was exiled in (a nearby town is even named 'General Artigas').
    His actions led to the Orientales eventually returning from exile to force the Portuguese to withdraw, resulting in the creation of the Republica Oriental del Uruguay.
    If General Bolivar is known as the George Washington of Latin America; at the very least, Artigas is the General Washington of Uruguay.
    While notable statues can be found of him in Washington D.C., New York City, and around the world, none can compare to the life size statue standing above his black marble mausoleum in the Plaza Independcencia, where he's buried.

Credit: BoyWiththeGreenHair


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