gaucho

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gaucho

(gou`chō), cowboy of the Argentine and Uruguayan pampaspampas
, wide, flat, grassy plains of temperate S South America, c.300,000 sq mi (777,000 sq km), particularly in Argentina and extending into Uruguay. Although the region gradually rises to the west, it appears mostly level. Precipitation decreases from east to west.
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 (grasslands). The typical gaucho, a familiar figure in the 18th and 19th cent., was a daring, skillful horseman and plainsman. As fighters, revolutionary soldiers, and campaigners in frequent internal struggles, they played a significant role in national life. They were an especially strong political force in the early years of the Argentine republic. Gaucho support of the federalists was instrumental in overthrowing the government of Juan Martín de Pueyrredón and in bringing to power such caudilloscaudillo
, [Span.,= military strongman], type of South American political leader that arose with the 19th-century wars of independence. The first caudillos were often generals who, leading private armies, used their military might to achieve power in the newly independent states.
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 as Juan Facundo QuirogaQuiroga, Juan Facundo
, 1790–1835, Argentine caudillo. One of the most brutal of the early gaucho chieftains, he was called el tigre de los llanos (the tiger of the plains).
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 and Juan Manuel de RosasRosas, Juan Manuel de
, 1793–1877, Argentine dictator, governor of Buenos Aires prov. (1829–32, 1835–52). As a boy he served under Jacques de Liniers against the British invaders of the Rio de la Plata (1806–7).
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. The immigration of large numbers of European farmers to the Pampa in the late 19th cent. marked the beginning of the gaucho's gradual disappearance. The payador, a wandering minstrel of the plain, was a type of gaucho. An extensive gaucho literature was developed in Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, and Brazil. Most notable are the epic poems Martín Fierro (1872) and La Vuelta de Martín Fierro (1879), by Argentine José HernándezHernández, José
, 1834–86, Argentine poet, journalist, and soldier. Hernández lived in the pampas as a child. He was the author of the national classic of gaucho literature, Martín Fierro (1872), and its sequel,
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, and the novel Don Segundo Sombra (1926), by Argentine Ricardo GüiraldesGüiraldes, Ricardo
, 1886–1927, Argentine writer. He spent his boyhood on a ranch where he learned the ways of the gauchos, later traveling to Europe. In his novels and short stories he applied postmodernist techniques to Argentine regional themes.
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. Rural inhabitants of the state of Rio Grande do Sul in southern Brazil are also called gaúchos.

Gaucho

 

an ethnic group created in the 16th and 17th centuries from marriages between Spaniards and Indian women in Argentina and Uruguay. They originally led a migratory way of life, engaging in smuggling and the rustling and reselling of cattle. In the late 18th century they began to take jobs as herdsmen on cattle ranches. The Gauchos took an active part in the War for Independence of the Spanish Colonies in America (1810-26) and subsequent civil wars. The idealized romantic image of the freedom-loving Gaucho came into Latin American literature during the 19th century. The descendants of the Gauchos became part of the Argentine nation (natsiia, nation in the historical sense), and most of them work as laborers on the large landowners’ farms and ranches.