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Rivera, Fructuoso (c. 1784–1854)

Rivera, Fructuoso (c. 1784–1854)

Fructuoso Rivera (b. ca. 1784; d. 13 January 1854), president of Uruguay (1830–1835 and 1839–1843), around whom the Colorado Party, one of the two traditional parties in the country, was formed. When the movement for independence began in 1810, he joined immediately and soon became one of José Gervasio Artigas's most trusted lieutenants, supporting him against the attempts of Buenos Aires to control the region. Rivera played a key role in the fight against Portuguese domination (1816–1820), holding out until March 1820, when he was defeated. As a result of his defeat, he came to terms with the Portuguese invaders and signed the charter of incorporation of Uruguay into the United Kingdom of Portugal and Brazil. In 1822, as a result of Brazil's declaration of independence, Rivera joined the Brazilians against the Portuguese in Uruguay. The Brazilian emperor, Dom Pedro I, promoted him to brigadier general, and in 1824 he was named commander of all the forces in the countryside. However, when Juan Antonio Lavalleja, a leading Uruguayan independence leader and an old friend and collaborator, invaded in 1825, he was captured by Lavalleja's troops, apparently in agreement with Lavalleja himself, and soon became his second in command. But in 1826, he broke off with Lavalleja and moved to Santa Fe, Argentina. While in Santa Fe, with the help of Estanislao López, a prominent regional military leader, Rivera prepared and launched an invasion against the Brazilian territory of Misiones in February 1828. This military feat increased his prestige.

On 28 August 1829, Rivera became minister of war of the provisional government, and on 24 October 1830, he became the first elected president of independent Uruguay. As president, Rivera did not carry out a specific program and was very disorganized, acting more like a caudillo than a president of a country and paying no attention to the affairs of government. Rivera helped General Manuel Oribe get elected president in 1835 with the hope that he could influence him, but when Oribe wanted to pass a series of laws that affected the interior, which Rivera considered his fiefdom, he rose in revolt on 16 July 1836, forcing Oribe's resignation on 23 October 1838. Rivera was then elected president. His second presidential term was disastrous for the country, for he turned an internal political dispute into a regional conflict with his alliances and intrigues with Argentine Unitarians and the Brazilian farrapos (ragamuffins). The affair became an international conflict when France and England intervened in favor of Rivera's Colorados and Argentine Unitarians.

Ten days after he had begun his second term (1839–1843), Rivera declared war on Juan Manuel de Rosas of Argentina, who had given asylum to Oribe, and plunged Uruguay into a conflict that did not end until 1852. Rivera did have some initial success, but between 1842 and 1845, Oribe and the Argentines had the upper hand. In 1845, Rivera sought refuge in Brazil and in 1846 went back to Uruguay and organized an unsuccessful campaign. He was removed from his command on 3 October 1847 because he had started secret negotiations with Oribe. Sentenced to four years in exile, he left for Brazil. In 1851, when the ban was lifted, he tried to go back to Uruguay. However, the Brazilian government blocked his return and kept him a virtual prisoner. He was not allowed to leave Brazil until 20 January 1853. On his way back to Uruguay, he learned that he had been named as a member of a triumvirate, but he died en route.

See alsoFarroupilha Revolt; Uruguay: Before 1900.


Telmo Manacorda, Fructuoso Rivera: El perpetuo defensor de la República Oriental (1933).

José Luciano Martínez, Brigadier General Fructuoso Rivera (1961).

Marta Canessa De Sanguinetti, Rivera: Un oriental liso y llano (1976).

Additional Bibliography

Giménez Rodríguez, Alejandro. El libro de los presidentes uruguayos: De Fructuoso Rivera a Jorge Batlle (1830–2004). Montevideo: Linardi y Risso, 2004.

Lepro, Alfredo. Fructuoso Rivera: Hombre del pueblo, sentido revolucionario De su vida y de su acción, 2 vols. Montevideo: República Oriental del Uruguay, Cámara de Representantes, 1993.

                                    Juan Manuel PÉrez

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