José Gervasio Artigas
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Artigas, José Gervasio
Born June 19, 1764, in Montevideo; died Sept. 23, 1850, near Asunción, Paraguay. Uruguayan military and political leader.
Artigas began his military service in the Spanish colonial armies. He took an active part in the struggle of the population of Montevideo against a British invasion in 1806–07. In 1811 he headed a popular uprising of Banda Oriental (“eastern shore,” modern Uruguay) against the Spanish colonizers, and in May of the same year he won a victory over them at Las Piedras. In May 1813, Artigas sent to the General Constitutional Assembly of the La Plata provinces, meeting in Buenos Aires, a delegation from Banda Oriental with a project for the federative structure of the La Plata provinces. Refusal to accept this fully accredited delegation led to Artigas’ break with the eovernment at Buenos Aires. At the beginning of 1815, Artigas expelled troops of the Buenos Aires government who had impinged on the territory of Banda Oriental. From 1816 to 1820 he directed the struggle against an invading army from Brazil. At the beginning of 1820, Artigas’ army suffered a defeat by a Portuguese-Brazilian army. Military clashes with the governor of the Argentine province of Entre Rios also ended in defeat for Artigas, and in 1820 he was forced to cross the border into Paraguay. Here he was interned and remained until his death. The Uruguayan people revere Artigas as a national hero.