Oribe, Manuel (1792–1857)

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Oribe, Manuel (1792–1857)

Manuel Oribe (b. 26 August 1792; d. 12 November 1857), second president of Uruguay (1835–1838) around whom the Blanco Party was formed, one of the two traditional political parties in Uruguay. The name Blanco derived from the white ribbons worn by Oribe's men. Oribe became involved very early in the military. In 1812, when he was just twenty years old, he participated in the second siege of Montevideo by patriot troops. The following year he went to Buenos Aires to study as a cadet at the Escuela de Matemáticas. He went back to Montevideo in 1814 during the last stage of the siege. In September, several months after the fall of the city, he was promoted to lieutenant in the First Grenadier Regiment, and a few days later he became an aide to the governor. Oribe was growing increasingly uncomfortable with the way Buenos Aires was treating Montevideo. In February 1815, the city passed into the hands of José Gervasio Artigas, and Oribe remained there and accepted his authority. In 1817, when Montevideo was in the hands of the Portuguese, who had invaded the country in 1816, Artigas named Fructuoso Rivera commander of the irregular forces to the south of the Río Negro to fight the Portuguese in guerrilla warfare. Oribe did not like this appointment and left for Buenos Aires, where he remained until 1821.

In Buenos Aires, Oribe became associated with a society called the Caballeros Orientales, founded in 1819 to promote Uruguayan independence. This group came to be dominated by the cabildo of Montevideo. It took advantage of the divisions in the enemy ranks caused by the Brazilian declaration of independence in September 1822. In 1823, Oribe led an unsuccessful revolt and returned to Buenos Aires in 1824.

In 1825, he organized an invasion force that has come to be known in Uruguayan history as La Cruzada de los Treinta y Tres. By the end of the same year the Brazilians were being engaged in battle by the Uruguayans. The conflict evolved into a regional one when Buenos Aires entered the war on the side of the Uruguayans. Oribe fought the Brazilians successfully in various campaigns during 1825 and 1826. In 1828, he was sent to arrest Rivera, who had invaded the Misiones Orientales at the time when a peace treaty was being negotiated, and the rivalry between the two men began. In 1832, Oribe was appointed chief of staff and the following year minister of war.

In March 1835, Oribe was elected president and tried to initiate a period of national reconstruction. His administration was in sharp contrast with that of Rivera (1830–1835), who paid very little attention to the affairs of government. Oribe's problems began when he attempted to bring the interior under Montevideo's control, an area that Rivera considered his own. On 16 July 1836, Rivera rose in rebellion against him. Oribe had some initial success, but in 1838 he was totally defeated and was forced to resign in October. He went to his ally, Juan Manuel de Rosas of Argentina, for help, and in 1839 Rivera declared war on Rosas, initiating the Guerra Grande (1839–1852), which started out as a political dispute and turned into a regional war with the involvement of Brazil and Argentina and later into an international conflict joined by France and England. Oribe defeated Rivera in December 1842, and in February 1843 he laid siege to Montevideo, which lasted until October 1851. When an agreement was reached with Justo José de Urquiza, Oribe retired to private life, but in 1853 he was forced into exile, not returning until 1855.

See alsoUruguay, Political Parties: Blanco Party; Uruguay: Before 1900.


Aquiles B. Oribe, Brigadier General D. Manuel Oribe, 2 vols. (1912).

Mario Andrés Raineri, Oribe y el estado nacional (1960).

José A. Torres Wilson, Oribe: El drama del Estado Oriental (1976).

Additional Bibliography

Aguirre Ramírez, Gonzalo. Tres aportes históricos. Montevideo: Ediciones de la Plaza, 1996.

Medere Larrosa, Aristides I. Oribe y su tiempo. Montevideo: Taller Gráfico Barreiros y Ramos, 1994.

Torres Wilson, José de. Oribe, el Uruguay en la lucha de los imperios. Montevideo: Ediciones de la Planta, 1986.

                                       Juan Manuel PÉrez