By R. Federico Mena-Martínez Castro
In these convulsed times where the country is going through moments perhaps limits in its future, the dark circles of oblivion in which our nationality and its institutions threaten to shipwreck by the hand of the irresponsible political leadership that a country that had to have a fortunate future, today it is engulfed in sparks that threaten flames of destruction affirming the insult.
The conscious opposition may be in time to stop the irreverent action of an opulent Christianity of wickedness and disastrous decisions without remembering a day like that, which should have been a gala all over America, where the high and virtual mass of Argentine independence was officiated. , forcing us today to look at the ground in a gesture of submission of glebas.
The problem is very deep and dangerous, for which we clean the dark circles that sadden us and through our struggle, let us raise our heads to envision a radiant and immense day, where our absorbed pupils can see the current abysses in clamors of freedom and decency.
This battle, carried out on the morning of November 20, 1845, deals with the interventionism of the most important European powers of the moment in our young territory, practically recently emancipated from the Spanish Metropolis and bled dry by the savage civil war that had filled pages of mourning. of our history.
It was not a casual event due to the savage authority with which the dictator Juan Manuel de Rosas he was shackling the Argentine Confederation. It was not a fact that they really cared, both the beheadings and the murders that occurred at every moment; This was not an issue that they wanted to address. Here the rights of men did not matter, but more than that, it happened that, during the 19th century, the European colonialist expansion, driven by the technological development that the aforementioned powers had agreed to, began to develop; this led them to the war to conquer land and consequently to the opening of new markets.
The arrogance of these countries would initially have the Far East, Oceania and then the African Continent as their theater of operations. Latin America was also, as we said before, a highly desirable prey, since the raw materials to feed millions of men were found there, which ensured a trade of huge benefits for these powers.
They had to find a pretext, like the one they made in San Juan de Ullum, in Mexico, opposite Veracruz, when they destroyed the fortress with cannon fire on the futile pretext that some Mexican sailors had eaten some sweets from a French pastry chef without having paid for them.
All this took place in the year 1838, the date when France began the first blockade against our country. In our territory there were also unjustified reasons, such as the arrest of a French citizen accused of common crimes. A diplomatic conflict of proportions was then generated in which the Vice-consul of France intervened and the government of the Confederation denied him prerogatives to participate in the matter. This motivated the presence of the powerful French fleet, under the pretext of inflicting “The invincible Buenos Aires, an exemplary punishment, which will be a salutary lesson for all American states… It is up to France to make itself known, if it wants to be respected….”.
In the Río de la Plata the feat of San Juan de Ullum was not repeated; here the people rejected the blockade and joined ranks in the emergency. San Martín then writes the first letter to Rosas offering his disinterested collaboration. In the interim, some questions followed one another that ended in the Mackau-Arana treaty, in 1840, which did not conform to the French nor to any faction of Unitarianism.
At that time, diplomatic missions were carried out before the belligerent countries, such as that of the Viscount of Abrantes who, distrusting the power of the Confederation, directly requested the intervention of the Anglo-French squad to overthrow the dictator. The management of Florencio Varela, who interviewed Lord Aberdeen, so that in exchange for the same reasons, he offered the independence of Entre Ríos and Corrientes also failed. General Paz recounts it in his Memoirs. It was an unfortunate request, the fact of trying to amputate the national territory.
The main purpose of this blockade was the free navigation of their ships through our inland rivers, and the creation of new states-blockers such as the Oriental Republic of Uruguay, which would facilitate political control of the region. The Balkanization of the country was intended as a strategy. When the ignominious aggression in La Plata was about to be unleashed, an independent French journalist, Emilio Girardín denounced in the newspaper “La Presse” of Paris, the injustice of this attitude and the role of useful idiot played by France since 1808.
According to General Tomás Guido, in a letter to San Martín, he tells him that the true cause of the Anglo-French intervention was due to a mere question of interests, since the fat businesses carried out by England were monumental as it owned the Montevideo Customs. On the other hand, the French parliamentarians also considered Uruguay as their own colony.
San Martín warned the European countries of the following: (…) In conclusion, 8000 men of the country’s cavalry, and 25 or 30 pieces of artillery, forces that General Rosas can maintain very easily, are enough to maintain a land blockade of Buenos Aires, and also to prevent an army from European of 20,000 men, leave more than 20 leagues from the capital, without exposing himself to complete ruin for lack of all resources. Such is my opinion and experience will show it.”. He also said: “ that the cattle, the first food or rather the only one in the town, can be withdrawn in a few days at a distance of many leagues; the same as the horses and other means of transport, and the wells of the unused ranches«.
Let us remember that in the year 1845, the Banda Oriental was in the midst of a civil war between the leaders Manuel Oribe and Fructuoso Rivera. Oribe sought the support of Rosas to recover his government, lost to Rivera, who was supported by Brazil. Rosas’s fleet was already blockading the port of Montevideo. For his part, Oribe had entered the city, with the financial and armament contribution of Rosas. This attitude was taken as a pretext for foreign powers to demand that Rosas withdraw the squad. When Rosas rejected the summons, the squadron was taken by the combined fleet. It was not too difficult for them since at that time England, France and the United States of America had already developed steamships.
In the year 1811, that is, shortly after the May Revolution, Don Hipólito Vieytes, toured the Paraná coast looking for the most convenient place to install defenses in the event of an attack by royalist ships. He considered that the chosen place was La Vuelta de Obligado due to its high ravines and the pronounced bend, which forced the ships to lean against the coast. These annotations were considered by Rosas, so he decided that the defenses would be installed there. Some indigenous families that lived in the area were evicted to build the aforementioned defenses.
In the month of August 1845, Lucio Norberto Mansilla, father of Lucio V. Mansilla, was authorized to build artillery defenses, while he sent the Sergeant Major Julián Bendimin command of one hundred and seventy-something cavalry and infantry soldiers, to protect the city from a possible Anglo-French landing.
The enemy forces were made up of 22 warships and 92 merchant ships. The Argentine troops, under the command of Lucio Norberto Mansilla, consisted of six merchant ships and sixty very small caliber cannons. The enemy had 418 guns and 880 soldiers. The river in La Vuelta de ObligadoIt was 700 meters wide and General Mansilla had ordered three thick chains to be laid on barges across the entire width of the river. This work was done by the Italian aliberti.
The disparity of forces was abysmal, especially with regard to artillery and steam ships, some partially armored. The Argentine batteries were four: Restauradore Rosas, under the command of General Álvaro de Alzogaray, the second, called General Brown, under the command of Lieutenant Brown, son of the Admiral; the third General Mansilla, under the command of artillery lieutenant Felipe Palacios and the fourth, upstream, in reserve, Manuelita Rosas, under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Juan Bautista Thorne. In addition, they prepared trenches, and a crew of 2,000 men under the command of the Colonel Ramon Rodriguez, head of the Patricios Regiment? was prepared to reinforce the fight. The only combat ship “The Republican” was in the care of the chains installed by aliberti.
Unfortunately, for reasons of space, it is not possible to describe the development of the battle, heroic in the highest degree, where the forces of the Confederation lost the battle, the tactical battle, but not the diplomatic battle. He had this conflagration, the virtue that the countries of South America changed their feelings towards the Argentine Confederation, despite Rosas.
General San Martín, from France, said in a letter his friend General Tomás Guido:
“I already knew the action of Obligado. What inequality! In any case, the auditors will have seen from this sample that the Argentines are not empanadas that can be eaten without giving more work than opening your mouth. (…) This contest, in my opinion, is as important as that of our emancipation from Spain.
The curved saber acquired by San Martín during his stay in London, shortly before he died, he left an order in article 3 of his will: (…) the saber that has accompanied me throughout the war of independence in South America, will be delivered to the General of the Argentine Republic, Don Juan Manuel de Rosas, as proof of the satisfaction that as an Argentine I have had to see the firmness with which it has upheld the honor of the Republic, against the unjust claims of foreigners who tried to humiliate it..
We think that perhaps this was the only notable fact that motivated this decision, since it does not admit the slightest consideration, that the Father of the Nation has endorsed his bloody management of government. Nor should we forget who were the leaders of both warring factions: General Lucio Norberto Mansilla, married to a sister of Juan Manuel de Rosas, was from the Argentine Confederation.
Many names and deeds of heroism remained in history, for which reason November 20 was recorded as the day of The National Sovereignty.