Lavalleja, Juan Antonio (1784–1853)

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Lavalleja, Juan Antonio (1784–1853)

Juan Antonio Lavalleja (b. 20 June 1784; d. 22 October 1853), Uruguayan military leader and a hero in the struggle for Uruguayan independence. Born in Santa Lucía to a family of cattle ranchers, he began his military career in 1811 in José Artigas's revolutionary movement for independence from the Spanish dominion. From 1816 to 1818 he fought against the invaders from the Luso-Brazilian Empire, and in 1818 he was taken prisoner and confined for three years in Río de Janeiro. Once freed, he returned to his homeland, now called the Cisplatine Province, and joined the revolutionary movement for independence. Discovered, he was forced into exile in Buenos Aires, where he prepared the "liberation crusade." The final epic of national independence, Artigas's offensive was brought to a close in 1828 with a preliminary peace agreement and finally ended in 1830 with the establishment of a constitutional government.

Lavalleja's adherence to federalist ideals caused him on more than one occasion to favor forms of political unity with Argentina, but he finally renounced these to pursue an independent nation. The liberation crusade was the zenith of his career as well as the beginning of his rivalry with the other national caudillo, President Fructuoso Rivera, against whom Lavalleja rose up in arms in 1832 and 1834. Defeated, he went into exile in Brazil. He returned in 1836 to fight against Rivera again, this time along with the constitutionalist forces of then President Manuel Oribe. He defeated Rivera at the battle of Carpintería, where for the first time the colors symbolizing the traditional parties of Uruguay, red (colorado) for Rivera and white (blanco) for Oribe, were used. The war ended in 1851, and in 1853, Lavalleja joined the governing triumvirate—a short-lived one, since he died that same year.

See alsoCisplatine War; Rivera, Fructuoso.


Anibal Barrios Pintos, Lavalleja: La patria independiente (1976).

Alfredo Castellanos, La Cisplatina, la independencia y la república caudillesca (1974).

Additional Bibliography

Goldman, Noemí, and Richardo D. Salvatore, eds. Caudillismos rioplatenses: Nuevas miradas a un viejo problema. Buenos Aires: Eudeba, Universdad de Buenos Aires, 2005.

                                 Magdalena GutiÉrrez

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Lavalleja, Juan Antonio (1784–1853)

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