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Flores, Venancio (1808–1868)

Flores, Venancio (1808–1868)

Venancio Flores (b. 18 May 1808; d. 19 February 1868), Uruguayan military and political leader (Colorado Party). Flores was born in the town of Porongos, today called Trinidad. He took part in the campaign to free Uruguay from Brazil in 1825. He was political chief of the department of San José and military commander of that department at the outbreak of the Guerra Grande (1839–1852). A rising figure in the Colorado Party, he was appointed political chief of Montevideo and minister of war and the navy in 1852. Upon the resignation of President Juan Francisco Giró in 1853, Flores formed a triumvirate with General Juan Antonio Lavalleja and General Fructuoso Rivera in an attempt to avoid another outbreak of civil war. When these two men died, both of natural causes, Flores became a preeminent figure in his party.

Political hostilities and a popular disdain of the caudillo tradition that he represented led Flores to withdraw to the Entre Ríos province of Argentina (1857–1863). While there, he played an active role in the civil wars of that country, supporting the Liberal Party led by Bartolomé Mitre. When Mitre became president of Argentina in 1862, Flores gained his support and that of Emperor Pedro II of Brazil for his campaign to win back the government in Uruguay. The leaders of these two powerful, neighboring countries, who were already planning what would come to be called the War of the Triple Alliance against Paraguay, were motivated by their need for the port of Montevideo. This was especially true for Brazil.

Calling his revolution the "liberation crusade," in memory of the 1825 campaign of that name, Flores began his assault against National Party President Bernardo Prudencio Berro in 1863, and, with the help of an army of 5,000 Brazilian soldiers who entered Uruguayan territory, marched into Montevideo triumphantly in February 1865. Immediately, Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay made public the treaty of the Triple Alliance, which committed them to fighting Paraguay to the end. Under the leadership of Francisco Solano López, Paraguay had become an important economic and military power, which made the War of the Triple Alliance (1865–1870) one of the bloodiest in the history of South America. Although scholars disagree on the total casualties, they agree that Paraguay suffered huge demographic losses.

Returning to Uruguay from the war in 1866, Flores resigned in 1868 and called for new elections. Flores was slain four days later by unknown assassins.

See alsoGuerra Grande; Uruguay, Political Parties: Colorado Party.


Alfredo Lepro, Años de forja (1962).

José Pedro Barrán, Apogeo y crisis del Uruguay pastorial y caudillesco (1974).

Washington Lockhart, Venancio Flores, un caudillo trágico (1976).

Additional Bibliography

Leuchars, Chris. To the Bitter End: Paraguay and the War of the Triple Alliance. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2002.

                                      JosÉ de Torres Wilson

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